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The best pour over coffee maker

Pour over coffee makers appeared on the scene decades after the French press and quickly became known for producing a deliciously complex cup of coffee.
Pour over coffee makers appeared on the scene decades after the French press and quickly became known for producing a deliciously complex cup of coffee. (BestReviews)

For many people, mornings are synonymous with the deep, rich aroma of a freshly brewed pot of coffee. Discriminating coffee drinkers have long searched for a machine that will brew the perfect cup, and many have settled on a pour over coffee maker.

Consistently highly rated for its good looks and reliably delicious cup of java, the Chemex Pour Over Glass Coffee Maker is both easy to use and stylish to look at.

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What to know before you buy a pour over coffee maker

Pour over coffee makers use a similar technology to French presses (their popular predecessor), but instead of steeping the grounds in hot water, that water is poured over the grounds(hence the name).

The cone-shaped top of the carafe holds a filter. Coffee grounds go into the filter, and water heated to 200 degrees is slowly poured over the grounds. Coffee drips through the filter into the carafe (or coffee mug) waiting below.

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Before you run out and replace your automatic drip coffee maker, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Carafe size

If you are brewing coffee for a crowd, consider buying a pour over coffee maker with a large carafe. Since brewing coffee in the pour over method takes an additional five minutes or so per cup, this is helpful if you have more than one person waiting for their morning cup of joe.

Style of filter

Pour over coffee maker filters come in a variety of materials and can be either disposable or reusable. The most common filters are made from paper, cloth, metal or plastic.

Of these materials, only paper filters are disposable. Many pour over coffee aficionados prefer either cloth or metal filters for both the quality of the coffee they make and the way they protect the environment. Plastic is less popular, but it works well if you plan on traveling with your pour over coffee maker.

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Hole size and number

The bottom of the cone-shaped area where the filter sits has holes that lead into the carafe. The size and number of these holes dictates the strength of the coffee. Fewer, smaller holes means that hot water sits on the grounds longer and coffee takes longer to brew. This means each resulting cup of coffee will be stronger and more complex — but you’ll have to wait.

If you prefer a lighter cup of coffee, choose a pour over coffee maker with more holes or holes that are larger.

Pour over coffee maker features.  

Insulated vs. non-insulated

Insulated pour over coffee makers are usually made from double-walled glass. This not only keeps coffee hotter for longer, but it also protects your hands when you pour.

Non-insulated pour over coffee makers use single-walled glass. Although this is not as easy on your hands, it is a lighter and often more affordable option.

Reusable filter

Reusable filters may cost more in the long run, but it means less waste in landfills. Some people prefer reusable filters because disposable paper filters trap the coffee's volatile oils and affect the final taste. Cloth reusable filters may also do this, so if you’d like the most well-rounded brew, choose a reusable metal filter.

How to make the perfect cup of pour over coffee

  • Cloth or paper filters must be wet before placing them in the top of your pour over coffee maker.
  • Add coffee grounds to the filter. The amount will vary based on the roast of the beans and how strong you like your coffee
  • Slowly pour water that has been heated to 200 degrees over the grounds. Use a circular motion from the outside of the filter to the inside to make sure that all the coffee grounds are covered in water.
  • Wait patiently for your coffee to brew. The brew is finished when all the water has passed through the grounds.

Pour over coffee maker cost 

Single-cup, plastic pour over coffee makers are just $5, but fancier, high-end versions can cost $60 or more.

Pour over coffee maker FAQ

What’s the best coffee-to-hot-water ratio?

A. Generally a ratio of 1:17 is appropriate for most pour over coffee makers. This is 1 tablespoon to just over 1 cup of water. If you like a stronger brew, use less water or more coffee.

Can you use different filters in different pour over coffee makers?

A. Some manufacturers produce pour over coffee makers that can only be used with their specific filters. But for the most part, pour over coffee maker filters can be used in a variety of machines.

Which pour over coffee maker should I get?

Best of the best pour over coffee maker

Chemex Pour Over Glass Coffee Maker : available at Sur La Table and Amazon

Our take: Chemex pour over coffee makers are the gold standard of this type of coffee appliance.

What we like: This carafe brews eight cups of delicious java at a time. The result is reliable and consistent, and the carafe itself is stylish and compact enough to keep out on the counter. Double-walled glass protects hands and keeps coffee hot longer.

What we dislike: Chemex pour over coffee makers only use Chemex filters, which can be expensive.

Best bang for your buck pour over coffee maker

Melitta Filter Coffee Maker: available at Amazon

Our take: This single-cup pour over coffee makers is compact and convenient for travel.

What we like: This plastic pour over coffee maker fits on top of most coffee mugs (including travel mugs) and allows you to brew a single cup of coffee. It doesn't weigh much, which means it travels well, and it's an affordable option for people who want to give this trend a try without breaking the bank.

What we dislike: It only makes one cup of coffee at a time, which can be tough when brewing for multiple coffee drinkers.

Honorable mention pour over coffee maker

Bodum Pour Over Coffee Maker with Permanent Filter: available at Amazon

Our take: The permanent filter on this pour over coffee maker is good for the environment (and great for your wallet).

What we like: Grind your coffee just how you like it to vary the brew strength. The permanent filter means no more waste for single-use filters. This is smaller, so it's a good choice for small apartments or where counter space is limited.

What we dislike: The single-walled glass carafe gets really hot. Proceed with caution.

Suzannah Kolbeck is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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