Coffee is the luxury of the modern age. It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning, and, for a lot of us, it's what fuels our days. The only downside to coffee can be the cost, and we have to face the fact that we can’t afford multiple store-bought coffees a day.
Thankfully, you can make great tasting coffee in your own home.
There are many different techniques to brew great coffee but the two most commonly used are the pour over and the drip methods. Each of them has pros and cons, and this guide will clearly explain each method so you can determine which is best for you.
Pour Over Vs Drip Coffee Makers: Key Differences Compared
Hopefully, you should have a better understanding of the two brewing methods, but you might be thinking to yourself, what's actually different about them? Here are the 5 key differences:
1. Temperature Stability
To create an excellent cup of coffee, you need to have water which is consistently between 195- and 205-degrees Fahrenheit. Some cheaper drip coffee machines won’t reach or maintain this temperature, and this impacts the overall quality of the coffee.
With the pour over method, it really is all in your hands. You can boil the kettle and control the water flow, ensuring it’s within those parameters. Pour over coffee, therefore, provides a more stable temperature.
2. Coffee quality
If you pour out two cups of coffee using the two different methods, keeping all other factors identical, then you’ll certainly see the difference in quality. The pour over coffee will taste noticeably smoother and give a richer flavor than the drip coffee.
Drip coffee can taste just as good, but you’ll need to spend at least a few hundred dollars on a top-notch machine to get there.
3. Pouring style and consistency
For a great cup of coffee, you want the water to flow consistently and across all the beans. With the pour over method, you do this yourself, so you're entirely in control, but the drip method uses machines with a spout.
These spouts are different for every model, which means there’s a bit of inconsistency in the drip coffee approach. Ultimately this means you might get a pretty unbalanced cup of coffee.
Pour over brewers are pretty durable and, if you maintain them properly, can last a whole lifetime. Drip brewers can also be durable, but it totally depends on the brand, make and model.
On average, drip brewers are less durable and will need to be replaced more often. This is doubly true if you buy a cheap machine.
In terms of the coffee's cleanliness, you’re going to get a slightly cleaner cup of coffee from the pour over method.
In terms of the cleanliness of the process, you are more likely to make a mess with the pour over method because you’re doing it yourself.
What Is Pour Over Coffee?
Pour over coffee is a technique developed in the early 1900s by Amalie Auguste Melitta Bentz in Germany. 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 allows 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 is pretty simple in concept. A semi-permeable filter is placed in a cone shaped device. Coffee grounds are then placed in the filter above your vessel, and hot water is poured over it. The water then travels through the coffee grounds, passes through the filter, and into your cup or jug.
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.
It’s 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 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. The constant supply of fresh water means that every drop picks up the coffee flavor, making it taste richer.
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 methods for making pour over coffee that use slightly different tools. Here are the main options:
What Is Drip Coffee?
You’ll see an electric drip coffee machine in almost every home because it’s such a common brewing method. 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.
It’s a very similar method to pour over but with slightly less control on the barista's side. Pressure and heat are applied to cold water, which is then dripped down onto the coffee grounds and passed through a filter into your cup or jug. The main difference to pour down is that 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 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 good cup of coffee.
Drip coffee is also 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. The flavor of drip coffee may not be as rich as a pour over brew, but it’s still smooth and tasty.
How Baristas Make Drip Coffees
There are two main methods for making drip coffees:
This is the most common form of drip coffee, which is widely used by baristas. You lay a disposable 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 heated by the machine and dripped over the coffee grounds and through the filter.
A coffee machine allows you to make a whole pot of coffee at once rather than individual services. 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 bags are sometimes used to make individual drip coffees without the need of a machine. 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 you have to respect the process. There are a few key factors that can really impact the quality of coffee you brew:
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 over coffee have much less impact on your cholesterol.
What grind of coffee is best for pour over?
A medium-fine coffee grind is best for pour over. This allows it to pick up the flavor easily as the water passes over it quickly.
Pour over coffee and drip coffee both have their merits, but if you’re a purist, you'll respect the pour over coffee technique more. This brewing method allows you to really get involved in the creation of the coffee, and by controlling the flow of water, you can directly influence how well the coffee is brewed.
Drip coffee is a lot simpler in a number of ways, and you don't need to get so involved, which is a real plus for some people. Overall, you should have drip coffee for a simpler process, but for a better quality of coffee and better experience, you should have pour over coffee.