With the right model, even a novice can make café-quality coffee at home.
Published Oct. 3, 2022.
Pour-over coffee makers come in a variety of styles that allow you to customize your coffee brewing experience. Flat-bottomed models are easy for novices to use and are especially good for dark-roast coffee because they highlight pleasant woodsy, cocoa-like flavors. Our favorite is the Kalita Wave Dripper 185 S. If you prefer light-roast coffee and citrusy, floral notes, we suggest using a conical model. Our favorite is the Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper 02. We also recommend the Origami Pour Over Coffee Dripper Medium as a pro-style conical option, as it produces highly rated coffee but is a bit more difficult to master.
Pour-over coffee makers—also called pour-over coffee drippers—are inexpensive compared to automatic drip coffee makers and can produce coffee that’s as good or better than that made with automatic machines because you’re able to control the temperature and timing of the brew process. Most are fairly simple cuplike devices: You insert a filter, add coffee grounds, and pour in water. The coffee drips through a hole in the bottom into a mug or carafe.
The two main styles of pour-over makers are conical and flat-bottomed. Conical models are shaped like a funnel, with sharply sloped walls. Flat-bottom models taper slightly to a broader, flat surface.
With pour-over makers of both styles, it requires finesse to achieve optimal extraction. You insert the filter and “pre-rinse” it so it adheres to the interior walls. The prerinse also preheats the pour-over maker, reducing the chances of underextracted, sour coffee. Next you add the coffee grounds and “bloom” them with a small amount of water. During this step, the coffee grounds “degas” as carbon dioxide escapes. Finally, you steadily pour water in concentric circles from the center outwards to create an evenly hydrated “slurry” of coffee grounds and water. If the slurry is unevenly hydrated, the coffee won’t be extracted properly (see Why does my pour-over coffee taste sour and bitter at the same time?).
Models have a variety of design features intended to make the brewing process easier or more consistent. Most have ribs or ridges to encourage the flow of water through the grounds. The Chemex, a one-piece hourglass-shaped model, combines a conical pour-over cup and a carafe. Some other models have a special design that allows the water to remain inside the pour-over cup during the bloom, which allows users greater control, but otherwise work like standard pour-over coffee makers. Another has a water tank, allowing you to add all of the water at once and let it drip ...
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Valerie is an assistant editor for ATK Reviews. In addition to cooking, she loves skiing, traveling, and spending time outdoors.