Pour Over Coffee vs Stovetop Espresso: Which is Better & Whats the Difference Anyway?

If you’re looking to make the move from stovetop espresso to a pour over coffee brew method, or perhaps considering trying something new altogether, you may become overwhelmed with the volume of information to take in.

Stovetop espresso makers and pour overs found their popularity around the same time, the early 1930s. Both are convenient, but less conventional than the typical daily coffee makers you might see on someone’s countertop.

If you’re someone who enjoys the method of creating coffee, whether that’s wide eyed and ready to roll, or half asleep and waking up by going through the motions, you will probably find yourself loving a stovetop espresso maker or pour over. Both brewing methods require a bit of preparation before the coffee is ready to go.

Both brew methods have a lot to offer, and can brew a delicious cup of coffee. There are a lot of similarities and differences between the two brew methods that can make one better than the other for different purposes. If you’re trying to decide which brew method would be best for you, take careful thought into what each method can offer.

We’ve compared and contrasted the pour over versus the stovetop espresso maker brew methods so you don’t have to. This article should help you assess the main features of the two brewing methods, as well as offer some insight as to what might be best for you.

Let’s begin by looking at the main differences between the two.

The Differences Between Pour Over and Stovetop Espresso

Before making a decision as important as what will be brewing your daily coffee, it’s important to understand the key differences between your options.

One of the most obvious differences between the two methods is the appearance. The stovetop espresso makers come in a lot of varieties, but the Moka Pot is a common variety. They are typically aluminum or stainless steel, and sit pretty tall, appearing heavy-duty by nature.

The pour over is pretty opposite to all that the stovetop espresso maker looks like. They’re typically dainty, fragile, and made of glass or ceramic. Pour overs are usually smaller than their stovetop counterparts.

Here are some of the best pour over coffee makers available today, there are a couple made from metal.

Stovetop espresso makers work by filling the bottom chamber with water, filling the portafilter with coffee grounds, and then bringing the water to high heat to so the pressure builds and the coffee is brewed.

Pour overs work by pouring hot water through the grounds at a slow rate, to cause the coffee to extract. Typically you grind the coffee fresh before use, pour it into a filter that is placed in the pour over contraption, and pour hot water that you’ve heated on the side slowly over the grounds.

Both brew methods have a variety of different models and options, but the general method of brewing remains the same.

Now let’s look at each individual method.

Is Pour Over Better Than Stovetop Espresso?

Pour overs can take some extra work and preparation, and they leave more room for error than a stovetop espresso maker. However, if you can get your brewing method down, then you will end up with unique coffee which boasts all of its individual flavors more than a stovetop espresso coffee ever could.

Yes, pour over brew method is better than espresso. You will need to know what you’re doing in order to be successful, so be sure to consider whether or not this brew method will fit into your lifestyle.

Luckily there are a lot of smaller pour overs that would suit a beginner user. The first pour over I ever used was a small ceramic one, and I was intimidated by the delicacy of the method. My friend showed me how to brew a good cup, and the rest was history.

Stovetop espresso makers brew bold, rich coffee, much like other similar brewing methods. I thought bold and rich was all I ever wanted from coffee, until I tried pour over.

Pour over coffee captures all the undertones most methods block out. The result is a light, sweet and bright cup of coffee with a multitude of flavors that can be picked out from each sip.

There is no way around the preparation time for making a pour over, so if you’re not interested in taking time out of your mornings to really nail the process, you’ll probably want to opt for a different brewing method.

Which brings us to the stovetop espresso.

Is Stovetop Espresso Better Than Pour Over?

Stovetop espresso makers can be a handy way to brew a solid cup of coffee in the morning, but when it comes down to it, they cannot beat out the taste of a well-prepared pour over.

Not to be confused with percolators, stovetop espresso makers work by heating up the pot on a burner until the water has generated steam. At this point, enough pressure has built in the bottom chamber and pushes the water up through the coffee until brewed to the desired strength.

I know I said that the pour over is not the most convenient, as it takes some preparation in order to enjoy, but that doesn’t mean stovetop espresso makers come without work. There is still a bit of preparation, making both of these brew methods not a great choice for someone looking primarily for convenience.

Stovetop espresso makers need to be cleaned often, as it is easy for residue to build up and result in a bitter tasting brew. It’s also important to grind your beans fresh to obtain the best possible brew.

You will need to heat up some water with a kettle, pour it in the bottom chamber of the pot, fill the portafilter with grounds, and place on the stovetop over heat.

The result is a brew that falls somewhere between strong coffee and an espresso shot. Bold, rich, and if made correctly, not bitter. It is easy to over-extract the beans with a method like this, so it’s important to be thoughtful about the consistency of the grind.

Pour Over or Stovetop Espresso Maker?

Everyone’s needs are different, so this isn’t a one-answer-fits-all situation. Personally though, I would go for the pour over every time. Nothing compares to the bright, sweet flavor of a good cup of pour over brew.

Both methods require some preparation, so if you’re looking to wake up and make your coffee with your eyes still half-shut, it may be best to choose a quicker method that doesn’t require a lot of work.

In order to get the best out of either brew method, you’ll need a good grinder to achieve the right texture for your brew. They both require heating up water before the rest of the process, which means you’ll need a good kettle. Both of these steps take time, so you’ll need to be consider how much time you’ll realistically have to make your coffee each day.

Since both methods require preparation, which one you should choose really comes down to what you like the most. Stovetop espresso makers are usually more heavy duty than pour over gear, which is typically glass and more fragile.

Some people prefer the look of stainless steel or aluminum to glass, so the appearance of the coffee maker you’ll be using is important to consider as well.

The biggest difference between the two brew methods is the end result. When you brew coffee with a stovetop espresso maker, you are brewing something dark and rich. While they can’t necessarily brew straight espresso like an espresso maker can, the end result is something in between espresso shots and strong coffee.

If you’re into bold, dark coffee, you will probably want to go with a stovetop espresso maker for your brewing needs.

Pour over on the other hand does not brew a dark, rich cup of coffee. Instead, it brews something more light and refreshing, with undertones of all the unique flavors in the blend.

For someone who is really into the art of crafting coffee, pour over would be a fun choice, as you can really get invested in trying out different blends to taste the differing flavors. I enjoy pour over especially for this reason, because I love noticing the difference immediately when I switch up the coffee beans I’m using.

Pour overs brew light, refreshing coffee with prominent notes of all the flavors within, whereas stovetop espresso makers produce dark, bold coffee. The difference is pretty obvious here, so deciding between the two really comes down to personal preference.

They both require some knowledge for how to properly brew, but once you’ve got it down, you’ll be making delicious coffee on the daily. If you don’t care for sweet, bright coffee, choosing a stovetop espresso maker would make more sense. If you try to avoid coffee that is too bold or dark, maybe pour over coffee would suit your preferences better.

Use this article to guide your next steps for choosing the brew method that suits your needs. Both are good choices, with vastly different outcomes.

Moka Pot VS Pour Over: A Brewing Method Comparison

Moka Pot VS Pour Over
Continuing our brewing method comparison series, we have the moka pot and the pour over method.

Both are pretty additions to your home cafe collection, for sure.

But I could not imagine two more different methods and I am excited to dissect each method!

For a point of reference the most commonly used moka pot in the US is arguably the Bialetti Moka Express, its basically the standard that all other moka pots are sized up to. Although it is very inexpensive it is still typically a little more expensive to buy than a basic pour over coffee dripper.

You can see pricing on various sizes of Moka Express coffee makers here.

With pour over coffee their really isn’t a clear cut standard. One could argue that the Hario V60 is the pour over device that sets the bar but there are a ton of nearly identical units that are just as good made from materials ranging from plastic, to ceramics, to metals. Pricing can vary widely for this reason.

Most people don’t want to use plastics if they don’t have to however so a top of the line product in the non-plastic pour over market might be the Coffee Gator pour over brewer as it is made from stainless steel and glass and doesn’t require paper filters.

No matter which model you are using though there is a lot to say about both of these brewing methods so lets dive in and compare them.

The moka pot is a simple way to get a bold coffee with a lot of body.

moka pot vs pour over coffee

The moka pot is sometimes called the stove top espresso maker because of it’s strong taste.

But the moniker is isn’t exactly accurate.

The heat source (stove top) will not generate enough pressure to produce concentrated coffee like full blown espresso machine would. I have a whole article devoted to the ins and outs of espresso. Check that out here!

Coffee brewed in a moka pot is better described as the middle ground between a strong drip and an espresso shot.

Keep that in mind as you grind your beans.

Moka pots have developed a bitter reputation. But follow these simple steps and you can have quality cup every time.

Step 1: give the pot a good scrub down.

This rids the rig of excess oils and particulate left over from the last brew. These are usually the culprit for the grimey, bitter taste that put the bad taste in people’s mouths, causing the rapid decline in the use of method.

Step 2: gather the equipment.

You’ll need 3 things to set you up for success before begin brewing: a grinder, a scale and a water kettle.

I cannot really stress the importance of grinding your beans daily enough. Freshly ground beans are the pivot point for every brewing method. Don’t take my word for it though. Click here for a more in-depth explanation.

Aim for your grounds to be about the same size as table salt for best results.

After you grind your beans, weigh them on a scale to get the perfect dose.

Weighing your dose is far more accurate than the widely used tablespoon method.

Age and roast of the beans are variables that change from batch to batch. And they make a world of difference. Volume measuring yields different results and makes it exponentially more difficult to replicate, if you love a particular cup, or tweak, if you don’t.

Boil some filtered water in your kettle so you can measure it promptly after it whistles.

The standard coffee to water ratio for the moka pot is 1:7.

So if you have a standard 3-cup moka pot, your ratio will be 177.5g of h2o : 12.76g freshly ground coffee.

Step 3: fill the bottom chamber.

The largest piece of your moka pot is the water reservoir.

Along the interior, you will find a gasket. This is your “stop here” marker, if your model does not have the words etched into the side.

Be sure to fill this with warm water. Maintaining internal temperature throughout the brewing process prevents the acidic/bitter taste that sends people running.

Step 4: dose

Fill your portafilter with the fresh grounds. But be sure not to tamp they way you would for an espresso shot. The water will not be able to travel through well, causing an over extraction.

Step 5:apply heat

Place your assembled moka pot onto your burner so that the entire bottom is in contact with the heat, but the handle is not hovering over the stovetop at all. You don’t want to accidentally burn yourself.

Set to medium heat. And wait for the iconic gurgling sound.

Step 6: remove from the stove top, wait for the rest of your coffee to collect in the top.

Step 7: Pour and enjoy!

This easy to follow guide can be replicated no matter the make and model of your pot.

You do have options though.

Moka pots come in two materials: the classic aluminum or the modern stainless steel.

The big difference between the two is durability. Aluminium warps over time due to extended exposure to the acids in coffee + heat. Stainless steel however, is basically indestructible. You can bring it camping, stuff it in a carry-on if you’re flying, and throw it in a dishwasher with virtually no wear and tear. Keep in mind, durability often means higher prices.

Moka pots typically come in sizes ranging from the single serve 1 cup to party size 12 cup.
It’s perfect for every occasion.

Pour Overs are a little more difficult but you taste all the unique flavors.

If the moka pot and its robust and strong coffee was on one end of the coffee spectrum, look clear across to the crisp and bright extreme and you’d find the pour over.

If moka pot and it’s simple, handsfree method is East, than the labor intensive pour over is west.
But that’s not to say it’s a lesser coffee, by any means.

Pour over connoisseurs would hail this style of brewing the BEST way to experience the full range of flavor that every cup has to offer.

That being said, it does require all over your attention and takes time to perfect.

The learning curve is due to the different pour over set ups and many techniques out there.

But I will make it easy and go over the 3 most popular rigs and 2 main techniques.

Let’s start with the easiest pour over sets.

The gateway to the world of pour overs is the flow restricter.

A perfect example of a flow restricter pour over is the Hario V60!

The V60 coffee dripper is super easy to use, and very affordable– the perfect expansion of your coffee collection.

These are very usually seen atop mug.

The come in a variety of materials: glass, ceramic, plastic. But their commonality is at the bottom of the cone.

Rather than the large opening of the chemex, flow restricters a hole that the coffee can slowly seep through. The slow drip allows the beans and the water more contact time to extract.

Some brands even build in little hatches that you can swipe closed for a minute or so to allow desired immersion time. The extra time in the cone gives the coffee more body than a classic pour over.

But the filter still catches all the oils and broken down coffee particles, making the flow restrictor, as Joe over at Seattle Coffee Gear would say, “pour over on training wheels.”

If you’re more of a visual learner, their series on the pour over is comprehensive and hilarious.

If you wanted to jump right into the world, you could start at the halfway mark.

The Kalita Wave is still a flow restricter, but it requires more time and skill.

Instead of the single drip hole, there are 3 openings with a wedge to prevent clogging.

The build of the cone itself  introduces movement to the grounds bed as you pour.

As you can see in the photo, there are ridges along the cone and the filter is creased.

This is strategically designed so the filter does not sit flush with the rest edges of the cone.

If it did, you could potentially miss some extraction entirely by accidentally pouring along the perimeter of the grounds bed and directly into your cup.

The most tedious (and delicious) pour over is the wide-mouthed Chemex. (click the image to add this to your collection)

chemex coffee preparation

When you hear the words, “pour-over” this is probably the image you get in your mind’s eye.

It’s a classic.

It’s glass build is aesthetically pleasing. You see the whole process unfold from bloom to pour.

This set up is the most challenging because the filter sits right against the walls of the brewing chamber.

It takes time to play with and master because there are so many factors that can change the flavour and strength entirely.

The best way to perfect your processes is to arm yourself with the proper equipment and a journal to note the subtle changes you make.

Guidelines to properly brew a pour over.

Regardless of which stage where you are the pour over spectrum, there are several steps you can take to get consistently good coffee.

Get your grinder, scale and kettle ready because this is a process, friends.

step 1: cleaning and maintenance

It should go without saying that coffee appliances need some tender loving care. So be sure to scrub down your pour over after every use to avoid build up of particulate and oil.

I would boycott dishwashers at all costs. Pour overs are infinitely more delicate than a the stainless steel moka pots that I mentioned as dishwasher safe above. One clink of  a butter knife could shatter hot glass.

Step 2: warm

Once your rig is nice and clean, start boiling your water.

The best kettle you can have for this method is the gooseneck.

The narrow spout gives you more control over how much you pour and how quickly you do.

You can get the vintage-looking stove top style, or the more modern electric–both will do the trick.

Once the water comes to a boil, run a little bit of it all along the inside of your pour over and the filter to warm it up (and wash the paper dust out.)

Thermal stability is vitally important to this brewing method in particular because the coffee to water contact is relatively short. You don’t want the coffee to cool while you’re still pouring and cause the brew to taste sour.

Step 3: grind

Level of grind is dependent on the thickness of your filter.

If you have filter that is woven pretty tightly, you can use finer grinds because it is unlikely that there will be any fall through.  But if you have a looser filter, you should grind more coarsely so that broken down coffee particles don’t make their way into your cuppa.

Step 4: dose

But regardless of the grind, your dose should follow this recipe until you find your preference.

1 part coffee : 16 parts water.

Pour out the water that was warming your brewing mechanism and place that bad boy onto your scale.

Zero out your scale by pushing the tare button.

Add your grounds to the filter.

Step 5: brew

The standard brew time for pour over is 2.5-3.5 minutes.

But this is where things can get tricky. There are 2 different ways to go about the pouring process.

1) one and done percolation.

Pour all the water into the reservoir and let gravity do it’s thing.

This option yields bright coffee, but may still have a lot of body and roast taste. Since there is longer coffee to water contact, the extraction is more thorough.

2) 3 pour pulse

Bloom your coffee with 10% of the total water starting from the center circling out to the circumference. Then wait 30 seconds.

Continue to pulse pour the rest, 10% at a time every 30 seconds.

This option is lighter and tastier. Your filter has more time to catch oils and particulate when you split the pour in thirds. The oils and broken down bits carry the smokey taste that comes from the roasting process. Pulse pouring allows all of the floral and fruity notes that belong to the individual bean to come to the forefront of the pallate.

Now you know the basics of the moka pot and the pour over!

You should be able to make an informed decision about what is best for your taste buds and your routine.

If you prefer dark, smokey coffee with full body, moka pots are probably best for you.

If you like light, bright coffee that is easy to drink, the pour over would be the way to go.

If you need something simple and quick, go with a moka pot.

If you’re looking for a coffee challenge, pick a pour over.

Both are amazing brewing systems, so it’s hard to go wrong. As with all things coffee, it’s about you!

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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