What Is a Pour-Over Coffee Maker

A pour-over coffee maker is a device, usually conical in shape, that is used to brew coffee by hand. It’s used in conjunction with a paper filter, which sits inside the coffee maker to which ground coffee is added, a pour-over kettle, which is used to pour water precisely over the coffee bed, and a set of scales, which is used to measure the amount of the brew. A cup or carafe sits beneath the brewer in order to collect the brewed coffee.

Pour-over coffee is a delicious way of brewing and is a preferred choice in most specialty coffee shops worldwide. Pour-over brewing is known for letting the true flavors of the coffee shine through the brew, offering a sweet, light and bright coffee in the cup. 

Benefits of Using a Pour-Over Coffee Maker

Inexpensive

Pour-over coffee makers are generally inexpensive and are capable of producing a delicious cup of coffee.

Makes Delicious Coffee

Using a pour-over coffee maker, you will be able to brew specialty cafe-quality coffee at home relatively easily. 

How Does a Pour-Over Coffee Maker Work

A pour-over coffee maker works by slowly and controllably pouring a set amount of hot water, usually from a pour-over kettle, over a bed of medium ground coffee, within a set amount of time.

Pour-over coffee is an infusion coffee brewing method. This means the water is flowing through the bed of coffee, dissolving as much of the coffee as it can, before flowing out of the brewer, as brewed coffee.

This differs from the immersion brewing method, such as the French press or the Aeropress, which involve having all the coffee and all the water, mixed together for the entire brew.  

Types of the Pour-Over Coffee Makers

Pour-over coffee makers generally come in three shapes (though there certainly are brewers with other shapes out there). Each shape offers a unique brewing experience, with resulting brews all tasting quite different from one another. 

Some brewers, like the Chemex and a version of the V60, are all-in-one units, meaning they combine the pour-over cone within a carafe. These are almost always made of glass.  

Cone-Shaped Pour-Over Coffee Maker

Cone-shaped coffee makers are the most common shape you’ll find in pour-over devices. Most coffee equipment companies who dabble with pour-over makers will, almost certainly, have a cone-shaped pour-over maker in their range. 

The King and Queen of the cone-shaped devices are undoubtedly the Chemex coffee maker and the V60 made by the Japanese company, Hario. 

The V60 comes in dozens of variations, from glass to ceramic, plastic, copper and stainless steel, and from one cup all the way up to six cups. You can be pretty sure that there is a V60 to suit whatever you need it for. 

All models and sizes of the Chemex are based on one design, a glass carafe in which a paper filter is fitted at the top.

Cone-shaped brewers come as a cone with one large hole in the bottom for the brewed coffee liquid to drip out. Because there is one large hole in the bottom of the brewer, you need to pay close attention to your grind size when using. The coffees’ grind size is what determines how fast the water will flow through the coffee bed.

If your coffee is ground very fine, there will be a lot of resistance against the water, resulting in longer brew time. On the other hand, If your coffee is ground very course, there will be little resistance, which will result in a much faster brew.

This is a good shape to start getting into pour-over coffee. It’s easy to use and you’ll find an abundance of brew recipes out there in internet land for the perfect brew. Make your morning coffee in a pour-over kettle and a V60– you’ll be in coffee heaven, daily. 

Flat Bottom Pour-Over Coffee Maker

Flat Bottom Pour-Over Coffee Maker

Flat bottom coffee makers tend to brew a slightly richer, fuller coffee. 

This is because the bottom of the brewer is flat, with three small holes. 

The three small holes, rather than the one big hole as with the cone-shaped brewers, provide some resistance within the brewer itself. This resistance slows the rate at which the water runs through the coffee maker. Meaning this brewer requires a less accurate grind size in order to make a great cup. 

Flat bottom brewers are generally more forgiving than cone-shaped coffee makers.

Flat bottom pour-over coffee makers can too be a great option for beginner pour-over brewers. Anyone wanting to step away from instant coffee, though instant coffee can be delicious too, a flat-bottom brewer and some good fresh coffee would do the trick nicely!  

Wedge-Shaped Pour-Over Coffee Maker

While many companies make a wedge-shaped coffee maker, it was originally invented by the German company, Melitta in 1937. And they still make the exact same coffee maker today. 

Wedge-shaped units, otherwise known as slit bottom or fan-shaped coffee makers, meet somewhere in between the other two shapes in terms of flavor and functionality. 

You have the similarity of the standard cone shape at the top of the brewer – but due to it’s small, a single hole for the coffee to flow from, the resulting cup will be closer to that of a flat bottom brewer. This is because, like the flat bottom coffee makers, the single hole controls the flowrate of the brew. Some wedge-shaped coffee makers do come with three small holes in the bottom.

Materials of Pour-Over Coffee Makers

These devices come in four different materials. And while they all brew coffee in the same way, the big difference is the durability of each material, and the way each material deals with heat. 

Ceramic

Ceramic is a good choice for keeping the heat of the brewer nice and high, so long as you pre-heat everything first. It’s also a reasonably good choice for durability. While you certainly can’t drop it on the ground and expect it to survive the fall, you can put it in the sink and wash it with any other of your dishes, not too concerned it will break like a glass one might. 

Ceramic items also look and feel quite beautiful, and come in dozens of colors. 

Glass

Glass coffee makers look stunning. Watching the coffee flow through the filter in a glass brewer, the way the golden coffee slowly drips down– magic. 

The way these products deal with the heat is much like the ceramic coffee makers. So long as you heat it up, you’re golden. The main drawback to owning a glass device is, of course, how breakable it is.

But hey, if you’re brewing into a glass carafe and drinking out of a glass or ceramic cup, why not use a glass unit and just be super careful?!

Metal

Metal coffee makers offer fantastic durability. 

Metal really absorbs heat and dissipates it pretty quickly. As with the glass and ceramic, as long as you pre-heat your brewer, it is doubtful that the amount of heat they absorb and pull away from the slurry is consequential for the average home coffee brewer.

They also look super cool!

Plastic

Plastic is a great mix of decent heat retention and durability. They are lightweight, and from a distance, look like ceramic! Or glass if you get a clear plastic one. 

The only major downside to a plastic device is simply the fact that they are plastic. They don’t feel as nice as the glass, metal or ceramic ones do, nor do they feel like something you’ll keep forever. Having said that, most of the plastic items are made of BPA free materials.    

How to Choose the Best Pour-Over Coffee Maker

How to Choose the Best Pour-Over Coffee Maker

You may have gathered by now there are a literal TON of options to consider when it comes to choosing the best device. 

Here are a few points to consider to help you narrow it down:

Single vs Multi-Serve Coffee Maker

Knowing how many people you will be brewing for will certainly slim down your options in the search for the best product for you.

1 Person: If you are brewing for just one person, you can go with the smallest option in all shapes. In the Hario V60 range, this is the 01 size, the Melitta is the 1-cup, while the Kalita Wave offers the 155. Perfect for a single 300ml cup or less.

2 People: The next size up, for brewing around 600ml of coffee, or coffee for two, is the 02 size for the V60, the wedge-shaped has the 6-cup and 185 for the Kalita Wave. 

3 People & more: If you want to size up still if you’re making coffee for an army, you’ll have three options. These are the big boys!

In the V60 line, you’ll have the mammoth 03 sizes, which can brew up to 1500ml. 

You could go with either the Melitta 6-cup or 10-cup, brewing up to 1500ml. 

Next up, we have the all in one coffee maker, the Chemex. The largest capacity Chemex. The 10-cup will brew a batch of coffee just shy of 1500ml.  

Unfortunately, the Kalita Wave is out of this caffeinated battle since it’s the largest size is the 185.     

Reusable Filter vs Filter Papers

While machines like the Keurig k475 or k575 offer reusable K-cup style filters, most manual coffee makers utilize paper filters, though there are a few who offer a metal filter. 

Both metal and paper filters do essentially the same job, which is to make sure ground coffee doesn’t end up in your cup. 

The big difference is that paper filters also keep out a lot of the oil in the coffee, so your resulting brew will be very light and clean tasting in the cup, with a medium mouthfeel. 

Metal filters deal with oils in the exact opposite way– they let them all through, producing a much heavier, fuller, thicker cup, usually with quite a bit of sediment.  

There are also cloth filters out there, but those are generally better suited for other brew methods, like making a batch of the world’s best coffee for cold brew

Brand

Pretty anyone who gets even a little into manual coffee brewing will start to form an alliance with their brewer, and the brand who makes it. Some are devout Hario lovers. Others only use Kalita. 

The truth is, pretty much all of these items are capable of producing a delicious cup of coffee.  

Here is a shortlist of the most popular brands. All these brands have cult-like followings because they make great equipment. Choose any of these and you really can’t go wrong.

  • Chemex (classic all in one, glass cone-shaped brewer and carafe)
  • Kalita (the Kalita Wave flat bottom brewer)
  • Hario (the V60 cone-shaped brewer)
  • Melitta (the original wedge-shaped brewer)

Budget

Pour-over coffee makers run the entire spectrum of budgets. 

From under $10 for a plastic V60 to the $150 range for a huge Chemex. The price variation is huge. 

You will certainly be able to pick up your perfect brew set-up for whatever your budget is.

How to Use a Pour-Over Coffee Maker

How to Use a Pour-Over Coffee Maker

Now! We’ve chosen our device, we’ve got some delicious coffee and some clean, quality water. 

Let’s brew!

Note: The following recipe is just one of literally thousands of recipes out there. This recipe was designed for the V60 but works well on the Chemex, flat bottom and wedge-shaped brewers too. This recipe will brew one 300ml cup of coffee. If you want to brew 600ml, simply double up everything.

Things you’ll need:

  • Pour-over coffee kettle 
  • Paper filter
  • Scales 
  • Timer
  • Spoon
  • 20g Coffee 
  • Hot water 

Step 1 – Boil the water

For this recipe, we’ve going to use water as hot as we can get it. So boil it and make sure it’s right of the boil when you start to brew.

Step 2 – Grind the coffee

Were looking at grinding our coffee at a medium setting, something like sea salt in texture.

Step 3 – Rinse the filter

Place the unit onto a cup or carafe. Place a filter in the brewer. Use some hot water to rinse the paper filter. This will not only remove any paper taste from the filter, but it will also pre-heat the brewer and the carafe.

Step 4 – Add the coffee

Discard the rinse water and add the coffee to your coffee maker. Give the coffee a shake to flatten and even out the coffee bed, which will allow a more even extraction. Place the coffee maker on the carafe and place the carafe on the scales. Press tare on your scales.

Step 5 – Bloom the coffee

Press start on your timer and pour 40g of water, evenly over the brew bed. Give the coffee a stir to make sure all the grinds are evenly wet at the same time. Wait 40 seconds.

The blooming phase is our first pour and is done to help degas the coffee, which will help to make a more even brew. 

Step 6 – 2nd Pour

After 40 seconds, we will continue with our second pour.  This will be a 130ml pour. We want to pour the water over the coffee bed in a spiral motion, starting in the middle, slowly and evenly working our way to the outside. You’ll notice the coffee will be darker in certain parts. We want to aim our water to get the darker bits. Try not to pour water directly onto the filter.

Step 7 – 3rd and final pour

Wait until the water level in the brewer has gone down to just below halfway, then continue to pour the remaining 130g of water in the same motion as the second pour. You should be finished pouring by around 2- 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Give the coffee a stir again. Don’t stir too much. Just one or two circles is Ok. Your brew should be completely finished around 1 minute later.

Step 8 – Stir

Lift the brewer of your carafe or cup and stir your brewed coffee. Stirring is very important because the layer of coffee on top of the brew is thinner than the coffee at the bottom. 

Step 9 – Serve

Pour the coffee into a cup and allow it to cool a little before drinking. Good coffee will usually taste best at around 60 degrees Celcius. Serve the coffee as is, or with a dash of the best coffee syrup for a little extra flavor. 

 

How to Clean and Maintain a Pour-Over Coffee Maker

Step 1 – Throw away coffee grounds and filter paper

One of the most beautiful things about these products, aside from the gorgeous coffee they can create, is how easy they are to clean and maintain.

Simply throw away or compost the used coffee grounds and filter paper, rinse the coffee maker under hot water and either dry it or just leave it to air dry. Easy! 

Step 2 – Rinse all the soap

You can use dishwashing soap to clean, but just make sure you rinse all the soap residue off before the next brew.   

Do’s and Don’ts With Pour-Over Coffee Makers

  • Do invest in a quality pour-over kettle and scales. It will make the brewing experience that much more pleasant.
  • Do try different recipes and techniques and find which recipe you like best.  
  • Don’t use pre-ground coffee. These devices really benefit from freshly ground coffee. If you want to use pre-ground, it is best to use a machine like the k55 by Keurig. Check out a review of Keurig k55 coffee maker here to see if it’s the brewer for you.
  • Don’t pour water directly on the paper when brewing. This will bypass the coffee and water down your brew.

Does More Spending Mean More Quality

Pour-over coffee makers are one piece of brewing equipment where the cheapest option, the plastic V60, could very well be the better option. 

While the build materials of the glass, ceramic and metal ones may be better, the resulting coffee will taste more or less the same. 

The most important thing, as always, is to have clean water and good coffee.  

Quick Tips for Getting the Best Cup of Coffee Every Time

  • Use hot water when brewing. Coffee extracts most efficiently with hot water. The hotter, the better.
  • Make sure your grinder can produce nice, even grinds. You don’t want too many big chunks of ground coffee (boulders), nor do you want too many tiny bits (fines). 
  • Try to keep your brew time within the 3-4 minute range. If your brew is too fast, the coffee will taste weak, sour and overly acidic. If your brew is too slow, your coffee might be dry, bitter and burnt tasting. To slow down your brew, grind finer. To speed it up, grind courser. 
  • Make notes of your brew technique and the resulting cup of coffee. You can make adjustments to the next brew based on how your previous one tasted.

 

FAQ About the Pour-Over Coffee Makers

Is pour-over better than drip?

Pour-over coffee is a form of drip coffee. The only real difference between a pour-over coffee maker and a drip coffee maker is that drip coffee makers usually use a machine to do the pouring. 

Is French press or pour-over better?

Both methods produce a delicious cup of coffee. 

If you like light, clean tasting coffees, you’ll probably like the pour-over better. 

If you like heavier, more oily coffees, a French press will likely be more your thing.

Why is pour-over coffee so good?

Pour-over coffee is amazing for two reasons. 

  1. It tastes so good. 
  2. The process of brewing is extremely fun and rewarding. 

What is the best coffee for pour-over?

You can use any kind of coffee for a pour-over, so long as it is fresh, and freshly ground. Light to medium roasts works particularly well using the pour-over brewing method.  

How much coffee should I use in a pour-over?

For pour-over coffee, you’ll want to use a ratio of between 1:15 and 1:17. A 1:15 ratio is 1 part coffee to 15 parts water. A 1:15 ratio will produce a stronger cup of coffee than a 1:17 ratio will. If we want to brew 600ml of coffee, and we want to use a 1:15 ratio, we’ll use 40g of coffee. 

How can I make my pour-over coffee stronger?

Simply use more coffee or less water. A 1:15 ratio will produce a stronger coffee than a 1:17 ratio. Try 40g of coffee with 600ml of water. If this isn’t strong enough, add a few more grams of coffee. 

Does pour-over coffee taste better?

Pour-over coffee is the best! But it all depends on you. If you pour the water evenly, and you use good coffee, you will brew a coffee better than most automatic coffee machines are capable of.

Conclusion

Pour-over coffee is a craft, an art form. Enjoy the process of getting to know the coffee maker, getting to know the kettle and getting to know the way the coffee reacts when water touches it. Pour-over coffee is by far the most rewarding way of brewing coffee, so enjoy it and have fun!

Photos from: JohnKepchar / depositphotos.com, pomphotothailand.gmail.com / depositphotos.com, sorockina / depositphotos.com and Syda_Productions / depositphotos.com.