Best Pour-Over Coffee Makers to Try, and Why You’ll Never Go Back Once You Do

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Looking for a healthy diversion during the current pandemic lockdown? Something hands-on? To drag your weary self away from the endless stream of bad news?

I hear you, friends. I’ve reviewed my three favorite pour-over coffee makers below. Consider giving one a try. You could use something warm, delicious, and comforting about now.

Pour Over Coffee is Not a Budget Buster

I am not a coffee snob. I don’t need a $48 per pound bag of single-origin, Peruvian beans to enjoy what I consider to be an excellent cup of FRESH, nuanced, hand-dripped coffee.

But I’m not a “casual” coffee drinker, either. And I will tell you this. If you’re new to pour over coffee, you’ll find artisanal or Third Wave coffee to be a fascinating and not over-the-top way to enrich both your daily life and special occasions.

You Can Do This!

I actually started making pour over coffee as an austerity measure about ten years ago, after a storm knocked out power for two-plus weeks. I hadn’t even realized at the time that pour-over was “a thing.”

But I had this dented, gold mesh. filter basket that got left behind when I sold an old Braun auto-drip at my yard sale. I reshaped a pleated paper filter to fit it. And used this over a (now formerly) pristine, vintage Corning, glass coffee carafe. You know, the collectible kind? With the gold atomic stars and funky handle? These were actually coffee servers, yes, but things were getting truly desperate in my household.

But it made utterly AMAZING coffee. I experienced a Road to Damascus coffee moment!. And I didn’t even know what I was doing.

My point is that you don’t need to be a licensed bean grader or professional barista to make truly delicious hand-dripped coffee at home. It wouldn’t hurt. But you’ll do just fine without the training. Part of the fun is in nudging your brew method this way and that, toward what you really enjoy most.

So I’ve long since ditched the austerity setup in favor of coffee gear that is, well, more chic. More beautiful. More satisfying to use. It makes my morning and afternoon coffee rituals something I really look forward to. And not just for the spike in energy.

AND… Making coffee manually goes from ritual to entertainment when you have guests over for dinner or birthday cake. Sparkling glassware, cute kettles, that intoxicating aroma, and of course, your coffee swagger. Dazzle your guests by crafting something both energizing and delightful, all without the aid of an iPhone app.

Are you ready to add a human element to your coffee? Here’s what you need to get started.

~ THE POUR OVER COFFEE MAKER REVIEWS ~

#1 Top Pick for the NoviceHario V60 Pour-Over Coffee Kit

WHAT’S NOTEWORTHY

  • Kit contains everything you need to get started, except hot water and ground coffee
  • Simple, attractive, Japanese design
  • High-quality borosilicate glass carafe and silicone lid
  • White BPA-free plastic handle
  • High-quality, white ceramic dripper
  • Interior channels ensure proper extraction and flow

What I Love

This kit includes all the gear you need to start making delicious pour-over right at home. The Hario brand can be found in Third Wave and specialty coffee houses the world over, so you’ll immediately be in “good professional standing,” so to speak, with this attractive, high-quality set.

Includes Hario Size 02 high-quality, borosilicate glass carafe with handle. My old Size 02 carafe has markings for 2, 3, and 4 cups, as well as markings in 100 ml increments, from 300 to 600 ml. But the newer ones seem only to have markings for 400 and 500 ml. These things tend to change. But if you’re using a scale to weigh out ingredients for your brew, it won’t matter much.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: In the food service industry, a cup of coffee is generally 5 or 6 ounces—not the standard measurement of 8 ounces used for “one cup” in recipes. Interpret the markings on your coffee carafe in this way.

The interior channels of the dripper ensure proper extraction and flow. I own both Hario glass and ceramic drippers with this same feature, and have found that I can actually use slightly less coffee and get the same desired taste. I couldn’t find anything definitive on why this is, but the channels might push water into the outside edges of the brew bed, which would otherwise get under-saturated. This is my own theory from experience. Don’t quote me, please.

The channels also allow you to easily lift out the filter when brewing is complete. Filters that stick, tear, and spill when removing can put a pall on your morning coffee vibe.

Clean, simple Japanese design makes for good aesthetics.

Attractive packaging also makes this Hario V60 Kit a gift-worthy set for fellow coffee-lovers.

Simply rinse and store after brewing. No big clunky machine taking up limited counter space in your kitchen.

A Dealbreaker for you?

The Hario V60 uses proprietary filters. Of course, we’ve all had to MacGyver a filter from time to time. But for the best taste and quality, keep a regular supply of Hario filters on hand for use with your V60.

Small size is not especially suitable if you’re making coffee for a crowd.

Other than that, this is the perfect little set to begin your adventures in pour over coffee.

If you already like the Hario V60 but want to take your pour-over to the next level of temperature control, check out this—WHOAA!—gleaming, super-trendy, V60 Kit in Copper. Kit includes nickel-lined copper kettle and dripper, a 4-cup glass carafe, silicone lid, and a pack of 40 paper filters. On sale, as of May 11, 2020, with FREE SHIPPING!

#2 Top Pick for the “Once Failed” Home Barista – Kalita Ceramic HASAMI 102 Pour Over Coffee Dripper

WHAT’S NOTEWORTHY

  • Artisan-made using methods that date back four centuries in Japan
  • Brilliant white porcelain that is both lightweight and durable
  • Functional design details that keep water flowing through the brew bed
  • A no-fail pour over option for brewing rich, smooth, delicious coffee
  • Dripper only. Carafe purchased separately
  • Brews about 2 to 4 cups

What I Love

Let’s see. You once tried making pour-over coffee?? But instead made one hot mess when your dripper clogged and your grounds runneth all over?? Then you need to try the Kalita HASAMI porcelain dripper.

It functions without a hitch. And it’s handmade using traditional methods that date back four centuries to the potters of the town of Hasami in Japan. Hasami porcelain is so lightweight that it has a degree of translucence when held up to the light. Yet it’s highly durable. And the clay used produces a brilliant, pure white porcelain.1

The HASAMI dripper is designed with a flat bottom containing three holes. Ribs create air pockets between the filter and the dripper. These signature features work to keep water flowing freely through your grounds, and produce a very smooth but potent brew. And it’s kind of fun to watch.

This is the perfect pour-over coffee maker if you hate making mistakes. Which I don’t. But I love using this dripper, and can heartily recommend it as a no-fail alternative to the famous Hario V60.

After using, simply rinse and stash it away, saving precious counter space for a little potted fern or some spring flowers cut from the yard. Or, that big Dualit toaster you’ve been eyeing. You gotta have a toaster.

Artisan-quality porcelain and time-tested design have made Kalita a ubiquitous brand. The Kalita family business has been designing and producing coffee-making products in Japan since the 1950s.

A Dealbreaker for you?

This Kalita HASAMI brews 2 to 4 servings of about 5 ounces each. Great for a great big mug, but not for your next big coffee klatch.

This is a dripper only. Carafe is NOT included. You’ll need to purchase one separately. Or you might already have a carafe that fits. Here’s one, also by Kalita, that definitely works with the HASAMI ceramic dripper.

I’ve had some trouble finding proprietary filters for the Hasami 102 dripper. They come in a red plaid box if that helps you spot them. But I use Melitta #4 cones and get flawless results. Kalita Wave filters do not work with the Hasami dripper.

#3 Top Pick for the Aspiring Home Barista – The CHEMEX® 8-Cup Classic Pour Over Coffee Maker

WHAT’S NOTEWORTHY

  • Timeless, mid-century style
  • Made in the USA
  • One-piece design
  • Thick borosilicate glass with removable wooden collar
  • Brews a truly clean-tasting coffee (no acidic taste, whatsoever)
  • Available in several sizes
The Chemex® Classic – Available in 3-cup, 6-cup, 8-cup, and 10-cup sizes

What I Love

The Chemex is such an artful piece of kitchenware. It sprang from the mind of one Peter Schlumbohm, a chemist and inventor with a penchant for marketing.2

I especially love the Chemex Classic series, but ALL of the Chemex pour over coffee makers have spot-on aesthetics. And when you stir award-winning, impeccable style into the perfect brew, you get MUCH more than just a jumpstart to a groggy morning.

Wooden collar doesn’t conduct heat, and is removable for washing the carafe.

Chemex proprietary bonded paper filters are very hefty. They’re designed to trap acidic-tasting oils, without compromising flavor or caffeine levels. They’re available in pre-folded cone, half-moon, and square options. I prefer the square ones.

Made in the USA. (I couldn’t find any other high quality pour-over coffee makers made in America, actually.)

If you’re buying the Chemex as a gift, the hand-blown series takes its iconic design to a new level of artistry.

A Dealbreaker for you..?

If the taste of immersion coffee or French Press is your thing, you might not like having the oils filtered out of your brew. Unless sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t.

Chemex is good once you have a little experience making pour-over coffee. Or if you don’t mind a short learning curve. The bottom of a folded Chemex filter forms a sharp point. Your coffee has to flow through this point as it’s brewing.

So until you get your pouring technique down, you might end up with water just sitting (and cooling) above the brew bed. Nothing fatal. But you might experiment with less expensive beans the first time, just in case.

The glass is very thick, but it will break if you drop or bang it in the sink. Happily, I’ve owned two Chemex Classics for several years with zero problems. I like to brew my “house blend” in one and a pot of decaf in the other when serving coffee to cap off a weekend dinner.

But, if you’re prone to fumbles, there is a beautiful Chemex with a handle. Definitely worth you checking out. And it was actually a feature of the original Chemex design.3

Or you can try my favorite sink protector for keeping your hands and your glassware safe while washing up. Unlike most, this mat is customizable, and you can run it through the dishwasher when it starts to look grungy.

SUMMARY

Quick Re-Cap of the Coffee Maker Reviews

After brewing and loving pour-over for ten-plus years, I think one of these three manual coffee makers can work for almost anyone::

  1. Top Pick for the NoviceHario V60 Pour Over Coffee Kit
  2. Top Pick for the “Once Failed” Home Barista – Kalita HASAMI 102 Pour Over Coffee Dripper
  3. Best Pour Over Coffee Maker for the Aspiring Home Barista – The CHEMEX 8-Cup Classic

Obviously, these coffee makers all have similarities. But subtle tweaks in design, and in filter shape and material, make ALL the difference in taste. And in the finer points of your brewing method.

So if you’ve never made pour-over, get the Hario V60 Pour Over Coffee Kit instead of trying to gather up everything you need to get going.

And if your attempts at making pour-over were a qualified disaster, it probably wasn’t your fault. Go on and give it another shot with the no-fail Kalita HASAMI 102. And if you can’t find the old carafe that failed you so miserably, here’s one from Kalita that’s up to the task. It will fit your new HASAMI dripper.

But if you aspire to be THE best home barista and coffee artiste in the neighborhood, don’t bother with anything but a Chemex. The 8-cup Classic gets a lot of use in my household, but there are other sizes available, as well as one with a handle.

Save Space, Ditch the Plastic

One thing I simply love about ALL of these pour over coffee makers is that your coffee never comes in contact with any plastic while brewing.

And, you’re not running the hot water through a machine that’s caked with limescale, as cleaning the auto-drip is never high on anyone’s to-do list. Especially mine. Pour over is always fresh, always pristine.

They’re good space-savers, as well. There’s only so much real estate on your kitchen counters. If you can make GREAT coffee without the extra clutter, why wouldn’t you?

Final thoughts…

One final point. Pour-over is for people who love coffee, and can’t wait to drink it. The idea of “baking” your fresh, clean brew on a little electric hot plate is anathema.

Best option if you won’t be drinking it immediately: transfer your fresh coffee to a thermal server.

Or, you can purchase the kind of metal diffuser that’s used with glass on either an electric or a gas range. I’ve never tried it, but I remember my grandmother had one, keeping a low flame under the coffee all afternoon. By four o’clock it smelled like ashes. She didn’t seem to mind.

So whether you need coffee to battle a bad night’s sleep during a worrisome pandemic, or you just want to serve something rich and comforting after meals, give pour-over a try with any one of these excellent manual coffee makers. You’ll never think of coffee the same way again.

Warm wishes for successful brewing and the very best of health!

Mari

References

  1. Wikipedia entry for Hasami-yaki
  2. Wikpedia entry for the Chemex Coffeemaker
  3. Wikipedia entry for Peter Schlumbohm

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