Pour Over Coffee Vs Drip: Which Is Better To Drink?

Coffee is life. It's what gets us out of bed in the morning and fuels our days, but it can be expensive. Thankfully there are different ways to make coffee at home which cost a fraction of the price.

Drip coffee and pour over coffee are both popular brewing methods, and this guide will give you the full drip vs pour over breakdown so you decide which is best for you. 

So. what's actually different about these two ways of brewing coffee? Here are the 8 key differences: 

1. Equipment used 

The brewing process for these two coffee drinks involves a filter and coffee grounds. However, the differences in equipment are what make the end products so different. 

Drip coffee is made with an electric drip coffee maker. A drip coffee maker does all the work for you, controlling the temperature of the water and letting hot water drip through the freshly ground coffee beans to create the drink. 

Pour over coffee is a manual process using a pour over brewer, usually a stainless steel gooseneck kettle. You pour the hot water over the coffee grinds to create the freshly brewed coffee yourself. It's literally all in your hands, and you can even do it with a kettle if you don't own a gooseneck kettle. 

If you're making a lot of coffee and just want it quick then a drip coffee from an electric drip coffee maker is best. If you prefer to get involved in the brewing process then pour over is the best coffee for you.

2. Brewing Time And Convenience

Coffee lovers generally want a quick brew, and the coffee brewing method for each type of drink impact the brew time.

The drip method brew time is 3-5 minutes. It's really simple and you can usually just flick a button on the drip coffee maker. Drip brewers often have an automatic function so you can have a coffee waiting for you in the morning, and can keep your coffee warm for longer.

The pour over brewing method also takes 3-5 minutes, but it's a bit more complicated. To prepare a skilful pour over coffee you need to get it just right and pour water consistently for several minutes (depending on your pour speed). It can become a bit of a ritual, but you will end up with a tasty coffee at the end of it. 

Both of these methods are slower than instant coffee, but a lot quicker than cold brew which can take several hours. Pour overs tend to take longer and be more complicated than a drip coffee, but true coffee connoisseurs enjoy the process. 

3. Water Temperature 

To make delicious coffee you need hot water which is consistently between 195- and 205-degrees Fahrenheit to capture more flavor. 

Electric drip coffee makers are designed to heat the water and some premium models even have a built in thermometer, but cheap electric coffee makers won't reach or maintain the right temperature. This can impact the drip coffee brewing process and give an off putting bitter taste. 

The pour over method gives you full control over the process because you have to do it yourself. You can boil the kettle and control the water flow, ensuring it maintains a consistent temperature.  

Therefore, the pour over coffee brewing process makes it easier to create an ideal cup of coffee because you have more control over the water temperature. 

4. Coffee Taste 

Pour over and drip coffee is generally made using a medium roast coffee bean and a medium grind size which lets you capture more flavor. However, if you make two identical cups of coffee using the two different methods then the taste will be different. 

Perfect pour over coffee tastes smooth and rich. This is because you can direct the water yourself through the ground coffee beans in a circular motion, giving it a lighter flavor.

Drip coffee is generally slightly harsher and more bitter. This is because the drip coffee maker won't keep the water temperature as consistent, and the water isn't spread over the grounds as evenly. 

Both brewing methods can make a delicious cup of coffee, but you'll need to invest in a good quality automatic drip coffee maker which can cost a few hundred dollars.

black coffee

5. Pouring style and consistency 

A perfect cup of coffee needs water to flow consistently across all the coffee grinds. The coffee brewing method you choose will impact the coffee quality and how your coffee tastes. 

Every drip coffee maker is different, but generally the drip coffee method has some inconsistency in how water is poured. Some drip coffee machines are better than others, but you can get a pretty unbalanced coffee. 

With the pour over method you're in complete control. This means pour over coffee provides a more consistent cup of coffee

You can get a delicious coffee using the pour over or drip process, but if you use the drip coffee method then you'll need to get yourself a good drip coffee maker. 

6. Caffeine Content 

The caffeine levels in each drink come from the extracted coffee, and as there are two different methods used the caffeine content does vary. 

A drip coffee has 150-170mg of caffeine, whereas a pour over coffee has 160-180mg of caffeine. A pour over is stronger because there's a more consistent water temperature, which leads to more caffeine extraction from the coffee beans. 

To put that in perspective, a cold brew has over 250mg of coffee and an americano has 80-120mg, so drip coffee and pour over coffee are both reasonably strong. However, if you want a bigger energy boost you should use the pour over method.

7. Durability 

Pour over and drip coffee methods are designed for every day use, so you want equipment that's going to last for a while. 

Pour over brewers are durable and can last a lifetime. If you maintain them properly you can get a lot of use from them and make a flavorful cup of coffee every day.  

Auto drip coffee makers are also durable, but it depends on the brand, make, and model. If you buy good quality drip machines they will last longer. 

On average, regular drip coffee machines are less durable and will need to be replaced more often, especially if you buy a cheap machine. 

8. Cleanliness 

If you drink coffee regularly you know how annoying it can be to clean coffee stains off cups and equipment. Every coffee brewing method is different, but these are two fairly clean brewing techniques. 

The pour over method is generally cleaner. There are only a few pieces of material to keep clean and they tend to be made of stainless steel, ceramic, or glass so they're easy to wipe down. 

A drip coffeemaker is more work to clean because there are various internal and external parts. 

If you want a clean brew method then go for a pour over, just make sure you don't make a mess when you're free pouring the water over the coffee. 


What Is Pour Over Coffee?  

Pour over coffee is a technique developed in the early 1900s by Amalie Auguste Melitta Bentz in Germany.[1]

She didn’t enjoy the bitter taste of her usual coffee, so she experimented with new methods that would improve the taste.  

She began by using her son's blotting paper as a filter which allowed the water to pass through, but kept out the grounds.

Over the years, this method was developed and refined, becoming one of the most popular techniques used today.  

pour over coffee with white filter

Pour over coffee is pretty simple in concept. A semi-permeable filter is placed in a cone shaped device. Coffee grounds are then placed in the paper filter above your vessel, and hot filtered water is poured from a gooseneck kettle or other device.[2]

The water then travels through the coffee grounds, passes through the paper filters, and into the final cup -ready to be enjoyed.  

There are four pours in the pour over brewing technique. The first pour targets the middle of the coffee grinds and lasts about 15 seconds.

The water will make the grounds swell as carbon dioxide releases, and bubbles rise from the mixture. The three subsequent pours should all take about 20 seconds and cover the rest of the coffee grinds.

Pour over is usually single serve and uses fewer grounds, but you can make multi serve pour over coffee if you have large enough filters. Just make sure you use the same ratio of coffee to water or you could end up with a terrible cup of coffee.

Why Do Coffee Drinkers Enjoy Pour Over Coffee? 

Pour over coffee is popular with coffee drinkers because it’s so cheap and simple. It allows you to have a flavorsome smooth coffee with absolutely no bits in the comfort of your own home.  

The best pour over is clear and consistent. The water travels through the coffee grounds at its own pace so it can capture the oils and fragrances of the coffee. The filter also helps capture any of the dirtier oils that might stain your cup.  

It also provides a higher quality coffee with a better taste. The water is allowed to infuse with the coffee grounds more effectively because it isn’t forced through like with the French press method.[3] The constant moisture means that every drop picks up the coffee flavor, making it a more flavorful cup of coffee. 

Pour over coffee provides a big caffeine hit. It's not as strong as cold brew, but it's stronger than instant or drip coffee. Pour over coffee can also be healthier because the slower brewing helps to remove the cholesterol from your coffee. This helps decrease your risk of cardiovascular issues. 


How Baristas Make Pour Over Coffee (Tools & Equipment)  

There's a couple of different coffee brewing methods for making pour over that use slightly different tools. Here are the main options: 

  • Clever 
    Clevers work in a similar way to standard drips, but they retain all the water instead of letting it pour through. This water reservoir means that the pouring is less important and makes it easier and quicker for beginners. For each cup, you’ll need about 350ml of water which you pour through the coffee.  
  • Cloth Filter 
    The cloth filter is the most affordable brewing technique on the market. It is literally just a cloth filter on top of the coffee grounds, which you pour water through. It’s really simple, takes no time at all, and saves you having to buy loads of replaceable filters.  
  • Chemex 
    Chemex devices are often found in coffee shops because they look really fancy. Their design is good for specific pouring techniques which improve the quality of the coffee because you can swirl the water around inside. This helps to give a more consistent coffee at home.
pour over coffee at home
  • Ceramic Dripper 
    Ceramic drippers are similar to a Chemex but are a bit sturdier and more durable. They work well and only take up a little room in your home after you stop pouring. This makes this coffee maker well suited for home brewers.  
  • Metal Dripper 
    A metal dripper coffee maker has a flat bottom, so the water drains more slowly. These brewing methods create a delicious flavor but can be annoying if you’re in a rush. Metal drippers are heavier, really durable, and well suited for home use.  

What Is Drip Coffee? 

You’ll see an electric drip coffee machine in almost every home because it’s such a common way of making coffee. These coffee makers use a heating element to heat the water and then drip it through the coffee grinds. There are some non-electrical versions, but generally, drip coffee is done by a machine.  

Drip coffee was also inspired by Bentz’s technique, but the first electric drip machine was invented in 1954 in Germany by Gottlob Widman. Up until this point, all coffee was brewed using the pour over method or using a percolator 

The drip method a very similar method to the pour over method, but with slightly less control on the barista's side. When you start brewing, pressure and heat are applied to cold water, which is then dripped down onto the coffee grounds to start the extraction process. The resulting drip coffee is then passed through a filter into your cup, jug, or other container. 

The main difference between pour down and drip is that with pour over the water all passes through centrally, and you aren’t altering the flow or direction of the water to cover the beans.   

Why Do People Enjoy Drip Coffee? 

Drip coffee brewing has one key benefit: simplicity. You literally only need one piece of equipment to make coffee, along with some disposable filters. This means it’s a lot less hands-on, and you can simply press a button, and you'll get a perfect cup of coffee.  

Many people also appreciate that drip coffee is really affordable. Once you’ve paid for the machine, it's very little for filters and coffee grounds, so you can have a good quality coffee every day. Plus, it can make several servings at once if you load it with more grounds.

Pour over may have a fuller flavor than drip coffee, but drip is still smooth. tasty, and it's much more convenient. 

coffee maker doing drip coffee

How Baristas Make Drip Coffees 

There are two methods for making drip coffees: 

Coffee Machine 

This is the most common form of drip coffee, which is widely used by baristas and removes the risk of human error. You lay a disposable paper filter in the cone shaped portion of the machine, put in your coffee grounds, and fill water into the back of the machine.

The water is then warmed by the heating element in the machine and dripped over the coffee grounds and through the filter to start the extraction process.

coffee machine allows you to make a whole pot of coffee at once rather than individual services, though different devices will each have a specific volume limit.

Typically, you’ll want to put in 7 grams of coffee and 125ml of water for each cup of water you're preparing. The water will need to be heated to 195 degrees Fahrenheit, and it will take around 5 minutes to brew. 

Drip Bag 

drip bag coffee

Drip bags are sometimes used to make individual drip coffees without the need of a machine, though this is a less popular option. 

The brewing bag itself sits directly in the cup you’re pouring into, and you put the coffee grounds inside. 

Then you take a kettle and slowly pour the water over the grounds.

This process shouldn’t be rushed and should take at least 1 minute.

 You’ll then want to leave the drip bag in there for roughly 2 minutes to infuse the flavor.

Then you can remove the drip bag and dispose of it.  

You should use roughly 200ml of water per cup with about 7-10 grams of coffee. A special filter is used with drip bags which is entirely natural, so it doesn't matter if it touches the water in your cup.  


Important Factors That Affect Coffee Brewing 

Brewing coffee can be done by anyone, but coffee lovers know that you have to respect the process and keep paying attention. There are a few key factors that can really impact the quality of coffee you brew: 

  • Coffee-to-water ratio 
    Having the proper ratio of coffee grinds and water is the key to a balanced cup. If you have too little water, it can become very bitter, too much, and it’s very weak. Measure your water so you have about 200ml, and your coffee so you have 10 grams per cup for optimum results. It's also worth using a medium roast to give you the best flavor.
  • Coffee particle size 
    The fineness of your coffee beans will impact the overall taste when you brew coffee. How fine a grind you use will vary depending on the brewing process because the finer the coffee, the more it is directly exposed to the water. This means you won’t need to brew it for as long. A drip over coffee works best with medium to coarse grinds, whereas a pour over is best with a medium to fine coffee grind.  
  • Water temperature 
    Your water used during the brewing process should always be at a consistent level, so the coffee brews evenly. Look to get the water between 195- and 205-degrees Fahrenheit for every cup - some electric drip coffee makers can struggle with this.
  • Contact time 
    The time you leave the water with the coffee grounds will impact the quality of the brewed coffee. For drip coffee, the brew time should be around 4 minutes, and for pour over, it should be 3-4 minutes. It's worth noting that with pour overs you have complete control over the pour speed and water flow, making it easier to make a good brew.
  • Agitation 
    Stirring the coffee can be used to release some of the flavors in the coffee. This is really useful with immersion techniques, but for drip and pour overs, you should be fine to brew coffee without any stirring.  
  • Heat Retention 
    This isn't a problem for pour over brewing, but drip coffee can become overheated if left in electric coffee makers or on a hot plate for too long. Always move it away once it's brewed, or it can become burned and bitter.  
coffee grinds

Pour Over & Drip Coffee Making FAQs

What is the difference between pour over vs French press coffee? 

French press coffee uses an immersion technique, whereas pour overuses an infusion technique. This means they have slightly different tastes, and you should use different grinds for each.  

What is the difference between drip vs French press coffee? 

Similar to the question above, drip and French press use different techniques to brew coffee. French press coffee is normally a bit stronger because none of the oils are filtered out during the process. This also makes the coffee a bit dirtier in your cup and less healthy.  

Can I use ground coffee for pour over? 

Yes. Simply pour the water over the grounds in the same way to brew the coffee.  

Can these types of coffee affect cholesterol? 

Coffee has been found to increase your cholesterol, but this is typically only in unfiltered or French press brews. Drip and pour overs have much less impact on your cholesterol.[4 

What grind of coffee is best for pour over? 

A medium-fine coffee grind size is best for pour overs. This allows it to pick up the flavor easily as the water passes over it quickly.  


Conclusion

Brewing coffee shouldn't be expensive or complicated, and both pour over and drip coffee are easy methods to make coffee at home. 

Pour over coffee doesn't need any specific coffee maker, but does require a bit of skill. The brewing process takes longer but gives you a high quality coffee that coffee lovers enjoy. 

The drip brewing process relies on drip coffee makers which are simple to use, but less effective. This gives you a quick coffee that's lower quality. 

Hopefully this guide has helped explain the differences of pour over vs drip coffee, and you now know which one is for you.

References:

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melitta_Bentz

2. https://www.fromengineertosahm.com/painting-through-semipermeable-membrane/

3. https://scienceandfooducla.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/coffee-brewing-methods/

4. https://www.healthline.com/health/high-cholesterol/coffee-link