Have you ever been to a coffee shop and seen those conical devices sitting on top of mugs? The first time I saw one I was pretty intrigued.
How exactly did it work? Why didn’t the water just stream straight through the grounds and into my cup?
I ordered an Ethiopian blend from the shop’s “Today’s Special” board and enjoyed a delightfully fragrant and delicately balanced cup of coffee unlike anything I’d tried before.
(At the time I was really into dark roasts.)
I went home and researched manual drip coffee:
- What is manual drip brewing?
- How does it work?
- What are the best pour over coffee makers?
- Which material — ceramic, glass or other — is best?
I took the dive and purchased the Hario V60 — sneak peek: it cracks my top 5 below — and another bag of Ethiopian coffee to recreate that coffee shop’s masterpiece.
While my first try wasn’t quite as good, I was hooked on the process. Now I used pour over coffee makers for all of my lighter roasts.
Are you interested in learning about pour over coffee and manual drip brewing?
Welcome to The Coffee Maven’s Ultimate Guide.
Related: How to Use a Pour Over Coffee Maker
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Pour Over Coffee Maker
- 2 Pour Over Coffee Maker Buyer’s Guide (Cliff Notes Edition)
- 3 Pour Over Coffee Makers: The Coffee Maven’s Top 5
Best Pour Over Coffee Maker
Detailed reviews of our top 5 pour over coffee makers are just a few inches away, but I felt this was a good time to interrupt our regularly scheduled article to bring you a Cliff Notes version of a pour over coffee maker buyer’s guide.
After all, how do you decide between these 5 great models without knowing what to look for?
Pour Over Coffee Maker Buyer’s Guide (Cliff Notes Edition)
When you select your pour over coffee maker, you’ll need to make two choices:
- Glass vs ceramic vs plastic vs metal construction
- Paper or stainless steel filter
Let’s briefly evaluate the pros and cons of each.
Glass vs Ceramic vs Plastic vs Metal Coffee Makers
Pour over models primarily come in 4 different materials: glass, ceramic, plastic and metal. There are pros and cons to each type of material. Here’s the rundown:
- Glass: There are 3 major benefits to glass coffee makers. First, glass is chemically inert and won’t impart any flavor on your coffee. Second, it insulates extremely well and keeps your blooming grounds at the proper temperature. Third, you can see what’s happening, which is both helpful and aesthetically pleasing.
- Ceramic: The same benefits as glass above except ceramic isn’t transparent. White ceramic also stains more easily than glass and typically is thicker and heavier.
- Plastic: Plastic coffee makers are most similar to ceramic, except plastic is much lighter and more easily transportable. The major downside of plastic is it’s generally not advisable to mix hot water and plastic for fear of leaching chemicals into your coffee.
- Metal: The durability and thin, lightweight design are great, but metal coffee makers often impart a metallic flavor (surprise!) and don’t insulate well at all. This can cause your blooming coffee grounds to drop in temperature, affecting your extraction.
Paper vs Stainless Steel Filter
- Pros to Paper: Lower cost and produce a slower, more deliberate brew with better extraction
- Cons to Paper: Single-use and can absorb those wonderful coffee oils
Stainless Steel Filters: Can cost upwards of $60 (though you should be able to find one on sale for around $25) but they last a long time. However, to get a positive return on that initial investment, you’d need to make 200-400 brews with paper filters (at $6 per 40 filters). You’ll also have to be careful about ensuring the stainless steel filter you buy is compatible with the coffee maker you own.
- Pros to Stainless Steel: Zero extraction of those flavorful oils!
- Cons to Stainless Steel: Higher initial cost, require cleaning after every use and tend to let fine sediment into your coffee
With that in mind, let’s get to the top 5!
Pour Over Coffee Makers: The Coffee Maven’s Top 5
You saw the table above, now dive into our extended pour over coffee maker reviews.
- Material: Glass
- Filter: Paper, single-use; stainless steel permanent
- Volume: 4 models – 15 oz, 30 oz, 40 oz, 50 oz
- Made In: USA
Calling Card: The Best Glass Pour Over Coffee Maker
Chemex is a high-quality brand that’s established a lot of brand loyalty over the years. Their reputation has inspired plenty of knock-offs, but don’t fall for it or skimp on cost — you want the real deal.
Part of Chemex’s Classic Series and weighing in at 1.9 lbs, this pour over has thinner glass than the vintage Chemex models.
As far as the filter goes, you can choose paper or stainless steel, and there are pros and cons to each as detailed above.
You could use a stainless steel filter lined with a paper filter and get the best of both worlds, but obviously that’s a little more expensive (and complicated).
Plus, can we also agree that Chemex pour over brewers are beautiful works of art? And I just love the wood collar for a soft touch to an otherwise classy, elegant sculpture.
Just be careful not to get the wood collar wet when washing. The Chemex isn’t difficult to wash — just swirl with hot water and clean weekly with soap and a soft-bristled brush — but don’t get that collar wet.
Any complaints one would have about this pour over coffee maker are complaints they’d have with any pour over coffee maker: the time it takes to brew and the precision required to master your coffee.
- Material: Glass
- Filter: Stainless steel, permanent
- Volume: 3 models – 17 oz, 34 oz, 51 oz
- Made In: Portugal
Calling Card: Best Pour Over Coffee Maker With Included Stainless Steel Filter
Similar in design to the Chemex brewer above, the Bodum Pour Over Coffee Maker is a sleek and beautifully designed option for those who prefer manual drip brewing.
The Bodum brewer comes in three different sizes and 10 different silicone color combinations — one of which is just cork and not actually silicone — for a comfortable, temperature-resistant grip that resists water.
This is an important distinction between Bodum and Chemex as the above Chemex brewer has a wood collar that you have to be careful not to get wet.
The Bodum comes with a permanent mesh filter made of stainless steel mesh and a BPA-free plastic cage. It isn’t the best filter, though, and makes coffee that tastes and feels a little like French press coffee. I’d suggest getting a better mesh filter or, if you prefer paper filters, placing a paper filter in the permanent filter.
A word of caution: be careful when handling this brewer. The glass is pretty thin. The 34 oz Bodum weighs 1.6 lbs compared to 1.9 lbs for the 30 oz Chemex above. Some of that will be the weight difference between the silicone and wood collars, but some of it is the Bodum’s thinner glass.
- Material: Ceramic, glass, plastic or metal
- Filter: Paper, single-use
- Volume: 3 models – 10 oz, 20 oz, 30 oz
- Made In: Japan
Calling Card: Best Ceramic Pour Over Coffee Maker
Unlike the fully self-contained pour over models above, the Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper functions by sitting on top of your collecting vessel (fancy phrase for a mug).
The Hario V60 comes in three different sizes — 10 oz, 20 oz and 30 oz — and comes in either ceramic, glass, plastic or metal.
A note: Not all size options offer each material, so check out the Amazon listing to see what’s available.
I also want to make a couple notes about the design differences between specific materials within the Hario V60 line:
- Ceramic: Fully made of ceramic, no concerns
- Glass: Glass body with plastic base, which sits on the mug
- Plastic: Fully made of plastic, some report cracking around 1 year
- Metal: Metal body with silicone base, which creates vacuum seal over mug and can cause issues with air displacement as mug fills with coffee
All sizes are compatible with mugs up to 4 inches in diameter, which is pretty darn big. The 20 oz model (size 02) is the standard size used in coffee shops. I wouldn’t get the 10 oz (size 01) unless you prefer thinner coffee or are OK with 8-10 oz cups.
See that ridged, vortex shape in the cross-section of the Hario V60? Those ridges stop the paper filter from sticking to the side of the cone, which prevents a vacuum from forming and ensures a constant, smooth flow.
This means you, the user, truly controls the brew speed as you manually pour hot water over the grounds.
- Material: Glass
- Filter: Cloth, multi-use
- Volume: 8 oz
- Made In: Japan
Calling Card: Best Coffee Maker With Cloth Filter
At just 240 mL in volume, the Hario Drip Pot is the smallest pour over coffee maker on our list — it makes just one 8-oz cup.
While that’s a significant drawback for a high-volume coffee drinker like myself, it may not be a negative for you. If you’re OK with the single-cup capacity, you just might enjoy the Hario Drip Pot.
This pour over coffee maker has a defining feature: It comes with a cloth filter.
Never used a cloth filter before and unsure whether it’s right for you?
Think of cloth filters this way: They’re basically reusable paper filters. They do a great job keeping fine sediment out of your coffee but you can wash them for extended use.
Cloth filters do stain from coffee oils, but you can clean this easily with bleach every few months.
Be warned, though: Hario recommends a lot of maintenance. You aren’t supposed to let it dry and it shouldn’t be cleaned with soap. Instead, Hario suggests boiling it after use to remove any residual flavors. For storage, consider keeping it in a Tupperware container of water in your refrigerator, or to take up less space try sealing it in a Ziploc bag in the fridge.
In reality do you need to do all of those things? No, you don’t need to, but I’d recommend boiling it every few uses and at least storing it in a Ziploc bag.
- Material: Ceramic
- Filter: Paper, single-use
- Volume: 10 oz
- Made In: Japan
Calling Card: Best Flat-Bottomed Pour Over Coffee Maker
The Bee House Ceramic Coffee Dripper comes in 9 different colors and functions a little differently than the above pour overs.
Instead of having a coffee filter positioned directly over a large opening to a bottom chamber or coffee mug, the Bee House has a flat bottom with 2 holes from which coffee drips into your mug.
With its flat-bottom design, the Bee House Dripper takes single-use standard paper #2 filters, though you can also get by with a standard #4 coffee filter. This pour over coffee maker also is dishwasher safe, which makes it a ton easier to maintain than the Hario Drip Pot above.
Compared to our third-ranked Hario V60 Dripper, which is compatible with mugs up to 4 inches in diameter, the Bee House Dripper is compatible with mugs from 2.75-3.75 inches. Oddly (and annoyingly) the base of this coffee maker is oval, which makes it a little less steady than the Hario V60. Add in this coffee maker’s extra weight (the 14.4 oz Bee House weighs twice the Hario V60) and balancing it on top of your mug can be a little bit…unnerving.
Are you a manual drip brewer? Which pour over coffee maker do you use? What do you like or dislike about the process? Let us know in the comments!