Pour over coffee makers have a reputation for making really good coffee by achieving optimal flavor extraction and churning out richer, deeper brews than a conventional drip machine. They work by placing medium-fine ground coffee beans (although you may need to adjust the fineness of your grounds based on how quickly the water passes through) into a filter and pouring hot water over them to brew directly into your cup or a carafe. The process requires patience and time, but the result is worth it.
In the Good Housekeeping Institute, our Kitchen Appliance experts test a range of coffee makers from drip coffee makers to French presses to espresso makers and single-cup coffee makers and coffee accessories like coffee grinders and travel mugs. When we test coffee makers, we round up the best models on the market and narrow down the field before testing for aspects like ease of use (like filling the water tank and brew basket and cleaning the carafe and filter after use, if applicable). We also take temperature readings during and after the brewing process, as well as during the keep-warm cycle. And of course, we rate the flavor of the resulting cup of coffee.
While we haven't formally tested pour over coffee makers in the Lab, we've road tested a few of our top picks and know what to look for when it comes to buying; material, price, durability, and ease of use are the main things to consider and our list offers a variety of all.
How to make pour over coffee
The key to a tasty brew is warming your water to 200°F and first “blooming” the grounds. An electric kettle will help you achieve the perfect temperature, while a grinder and scale will help with the freshest and custom-tailored flavor. Here's how:
- Pour about 1/3 of the water onto the grounds in a circular motion and wait 30 seconds. This process saturates the grounds and gets them ready to brew.
- After 30 seconds, pour in the remaining water in the opposite direction. These circular motions help prevent the grinds from overflowing.
- Once all the coffee has brewed, remove the used filter with grounds and enjoy.
What type of pour over coffee maker is best?
There are three kinds of pour overs: Flat-bottomed, cone, and wedge.
- Flat-bottomed is the most user-friendly shape is flat bottomed because there is more surface area which leads to more even and consistent saturation of the grounds for a rich, full flavored coffee. A study at UC Davis shows that the shape of the filter highly affected the flavor notes for the brewed coffee, so choosing between flat and cone can also come down to which tasting notes you prefer in your cup of Joe.
- Cone requires a bit more precision when it comes to slowly pouring the water in circular motions because the water drains from one single point, so your hot water-pouring technique and rate is much more important here than in a flat-bottomed dripper. This means you’re going to need to be a bit more precise and engaged with the pouring process, but mastering the spiral pour method will prove to be advantageous with this apparatus because of the concave flow of water through the cone.
- Wedge pour overs possess similarities to both the flat-bottom and cone shape pour over. Because of the single hole at the bottom of the brewer, it is most similar to the cone shape in that it requires some level of precision when pouring water. Some wedge shaped pour overs do come with three holes which makes for a much more forgiving brew, so make sure to take note when looking at a wedge shaped apparatus.
Here are our favorite pour over coffee makers:
- Cone design
- 20-ounce brew capacity
This sturdier material not only will afford you a more durable product but a better, tastier cup of coffee from its wedge shape. Just like a cone bottomed pour over, this shape is ideal for a seasoned pour over drinker who wants a full bodied brew. The same pour over coffee maker can be bought without the pitcher, but we appreciate that we can brew more than one cups with this pitcher.
- Cone design
- 2- to 6-cup brew capacity
- Dishwasher friendly
- Travel friendly
- Plastic can absorb odors
In addition to price, the main advantage of this plastic dripper is it’s packability – if you’re planning to travel with your pour over or take it camping, a plastic option is the way to go because you don't have to worry about it breaking. It may not have as desirable of a look as some of the other picks, but it’s practical, durable, and dishwasher friendly.
- Flat-bottomed dripper
- 16- and 26-ounce brews
- Easy to use for consistent, full bodied flavor
- Glass is not a great heat insulator
For a more consistently delicious cup of joe, the Kalita Wave is a great pour over option because of its flat-bottomed dripper. You don’t need to worry as much about your pouring rate and technique here because the flat bottom is way more forgiving, perfect for a pour over newbie. Because there are three holes at the bottom of the filter, the water will flow through the pour over more easily and you don't need to worry as much about overflowing your grinds with water or perfecting a perfect water pour.
- Sleek glass design
- 6-cup brew capacity
- Built-in carafe
- Requires proprietary filters
- Cone shape can be difficult for pour over beginners
Aside from the fact that it is easily the most visually appealing pour over of the bunch, a Chemex pour over is also great because it can brew more than one cup at a time. With a variety of sizes, a chic wooden collar, and a glass body that doesn’t absorb any odors or residue, this pour over is just as durable (dishwasher friendly!) as it is stylish. The built-in carafe makes your brew super easy: You can either use proprietary standard, unbleached paper filters or invest in a reusable stainless steel filter.
- Stylish glass design
- 17- to 51-ounce brew capacity
- Mesh filter is reusable and sustainable
- Mesh filters are not as efficient as paper filters
With similar design to a Chemex, this glass pour over is set up with a built-in carafe and a reusable stainless steel mesh filter. The stylish cork band and spout make for easy pouring when the coffee is done brewing. Some home brewers point out that you can’t replicate that signature, clean, full-bodied brew with a mesh filter, as paper filters are the most efficient at removing silt, so a Bodum cup of coffee might not be as grit-free as the others.
- Insulated carafe keeps coffee warmer longer
- 9-cup brew capacity
- Not as customizable as manual pour overs
- More expensive
If the process of pouring water seems intimidating but you still want to create that signature pour over flavor, there are electric options that mimic the pour over design. Instead of working like a classic drip machine, electric pour overs have more stages. The beans are first soaked uniformly with a shower of water, allowing the grounds to "bloom" for maximum flavor. Next, another shower is gently poured over the grounds and then drained into the carafe container, giving you a full-bodied, smooth brew.
- Cone design
- 20 ounce brew capacity
- Available in ceramic, glass, metal, or plastic
- Requires proprietary filters
Similarly to the Melitta Porcelain Pour Over, this Hario has one small hole at the bottom of the filter, which requires a bit more patience and skill than a flat bottomed pour over. Standard Melitta filters will not work with this pour over – instead, Hario filters are widely available online. While Hario filters are available in ceramic, glass, metal, and plastic, we’d recommend ceramic for its durability, chic look, and ability to insulate better than the other materials.
Size: Most pour overs brew coffee one cup at a time, about 5 ounces of coffee, but certain models, like a Chemex or an electric pour over, have the capability to brew more coffee at a time, up to 50 ounces. If you’re only making coffee for yourself, it might be unnecessary to have a machine that brews this much, but if you’re brewing for a crowd, then this is definitely the way to go.
Manual vs. Electric: Traditional pour over coffee makers are manual but we're seeing more and more electric versions hit the market.
- Manual pour overs take time and effort to use, while electric pour overs do all the work for you. They are cheaper than electric counterparts, plus, art of the joys of manual pour overs are controlling the flow rate and water pouring technique, so you're handing that over to the machine if you go electric. If you prefer more control over your brew, manual is the way to go.
- Electric options brew more than one cup at a time, and unlike most pour overs, they filter into a carafe that can keep the coffee warmer for much longer. No need to worry about heating your water to the perfect temperature or mastering the slow, circular pouring method, because the machine can achieve this for you. Keep in mind that electric pour overs are significantly more expensive than manual pour overs.
Material: Here are the most popular materials you'll have to choose from:
- Ceramic, porcelain, and glass pour overs are definitely the ideal because these materials don’t absorb odors or residue. They are all highly durable and visually appealing, although ceramic and porcelain are better insulators of heat than glass.
- Plastic can absorb odors and coffee stains that cannot be removed and is less aesthetically pleasing, but plastic is still a practical material for pour overs, especially if you are planning to travel with it since it's not going to shatter like porcelain or glass.
- Metal pour overs are another sturdy option, although because metal is more conductive, you might lose some heat to the apparatus during brewing.