Pour Over vs Drip Coffee: What’s Different & Which is Better

Best Manual Coffee MakersThe mainstay of most coffee drinkers is their drip coffee maker, whatever brand it may be, or whatever coffee they choose to brew.

It’s a daily requirement.

Contrary to the older generations of coffee drinks though, the choice becomes obvious at some point in everyone coffee career. Do you simply abide by the rules of the drip coffee or make the switch to something stronger, bolder, maybe more adventurous? Of course, I’m discussing the move towards the Pour Over brew!

This might not have been your parents choice in life, as they stuck out the Folgers brew every day, but perhaps you can change the course and find a new adventure in coffee creation. Or will you?

The Differences Between Pour Over & Drip Begin with the Process

How-To Pour Over

Pour-over Vs Drip CoffeeIs it really as simple as pouring water over coffee grounds?

Well, first you’re going to get into some different brewing equipment. It’ll be fun though, you might find yourself feeling like a chemist.

In fact, the Chemex pour-over brewer was invented in the 1940s by a chemist. Double-fact, it’s on permanent display at the New York Museum of Modern Art. Quite an impressive feat.

This should instill some hope that you’re going to be brewing in a proper way.

So, the Chemex differs slightly from the traditional pour-over brewer that we’re going to be discussing today. Mainly due to its design and filter thickness. Traditionally, the pour-over uses its own unique filter, but if you’re really measuring, won’t be much thicker or thinner than the same coffee filter one uses is the drip machine. Nevertheless, it’s even more, an important way to brew coffee, and it might just become the mainstay of your morning coffee routine.

Make sure to see which pour-over brewers I recommend here.

Now, find yourself a proper pour-over brewing system. Some are even big enough for the office, but anything will do for our purposes. You’ll know that you’ve found the correct one when there’s no chords or flashing lights, timers, or eccentric gadgets in the way. Now we’re talking about a pure coffee brewing experience in the ways of old. Many who are new to the pour over method find that this process is relaxing and feels pure. Real hands-on coffee making!

Now, get some water boiling, you can even use the newly retired coffee maker or an electric kettle.

Next, grind some coffee to the same consistency you would find in the tub of Folgers or simply make use of those grinds. You’ll need roughly three tablespoons depending on what size of pour-over brewer you’ve got. Typically, they are found in three, six, and ten cup varieties but there’s a whole world of coffee gear out there so who knows what you’ll find. One can always experiment with the strength of coffee grinds to determine what works best.

Now grab a timer!

Start by pouring your to-temperature water slowly over the coffee, from the outside in, you’ll saturate the grounds and maybe even start to see the bloom that is common in french press brewing and cupping as well. Cover the grounds making sure all the grounds are saturated. Let the grounds sit saturated for roughly forty-five seconds and then finish pouring the remaining liquid in quick intermittent pours.

This allows the coffee to get completely saturated and the extraction to proceed as needed.

Though you might find the pouring process arduous, it’s just because you’re used to the drip coffee maker doing all the work for you. This is supposed to be enjoyable, so breath deep the sweet aroma of coffee as the brewing process happens before your eyes.

The Benefits of Pour Over

Pour Over CoffeeThe first benefit on will come to understand is that this particular coffee method that produces a strong, full-bodied cup of coffee. Some people actually report that the “pour over” coffee is the best they’ve ever had. You may be familiar with the Chemex and Hario, these are the most recognizable of this coffee style.

The reasons so many love this style is that it most definitely yields a stronger and more intense flavor because it extracts the unique notes and flavors from the coffee beans.

The pour-over method allows you to have complete control of the taste, strength and water temperature.
Chemex filters are designed to remove sediment, oils and unwanted acids, which is also said to make the coffee flavor richer and eliminates the undesirable parts of the coffee bean. The Chemex itself is made from glass, which makes it is easy to clean and care for.

Many coffee experts claim there is a “craft” to using the pour over. You have to use a high quality, specifically ground coffee bean (coarse grind only), and a specific type of filter and water temperature. Most experts also agree that once you get it right, it’s worth it.

Since the beans are in contact with the water for longer periods of time when using a drip method, drip coffee is higher in caffeine at roughly 145 mg per cup. It’s especially worth mentioning that by pouring slower you’re able to control the amount of time that the water is in contact with the coffee, which significantly affects the flavor.

If you don’t have such patience, then there’s still hope for you yet.

The Benefits of Drip Coffee

Pour Over vs. Drip Brewing ProcessWhat’s that? You’re still not sure you want to leave your old coffee maker behind to bite the dust. Well, good thing because there are some important benefits to maintaining your drip coffee routine.

If you weren’t totally satisfied with the pour over method then there’s good news.

It might be due to the fact that you’re not such a control freak about the way your coffee is brewed. Noted.

That means that the automated drip coffee makes your morning slightly smoother. The drip coffee brewing method is able to be set up and left with little concern. Simply go about your morning and come back at the perfect time for coffee.

These are by and large the most common type of coffee maker. It’s common and if you’re used to this kind of coffee, chances are your body is adjusted, you know how much caffeine you’re getting and it’s down to a science. Two cups no cream, and good for the day. Does this describe you?

So the obvious benefits are that you can set it before you go to bed so that your morning coffee has already started brewing when your alarm goes off. High-end automatic drip coffee makers are ripe with fancy features. If you’re looking at the really high-end versions, built-in coffee bean grinders, a “keep warm” timer setting, and choosing the length of brewing time which can alter the strength and flavor. Sounds like quite an extravaganza.

space age drip coffee makerAlthough drip coffee makers may yield a slightly weaker brew than say, the French press brew method, mostly due to the fact that the grounds are filtered, the filter has been shown to prevent an oily compound found in coffee beans, that blocks the cholesterol-regulating receptors in your intestines, from passing through. Which is called LDL, by the way.

In other words, drinking several cups of French press coffee each day may contribute to raising your LDL cholesterol levels (which is more of a concern if you have a diet high in refined sugar and fats), while filtered coffee won’t contain this fatty acid.

Comparing Coffee Filters

Coffee FiltersStandard white paper coffee filters are bleached with chlorine and contain carcinogenic chemicals such as epichlorohydrin and dioxins. Dioxins are a byproduct of paper bleaching and are thought to accumulate in organ tissues and disrupt hormones over time.

While it’s unclear exactly how much of these chemicals can wind up in your cup, it’s safer to stick to unbleached paper coffee filters, or better yet, over the paper filters altogether and go for a more sustainable route.

Since the beans are in contact with the water for longer periods of time when using a drip method, drip coffee is higher in caffeine at roughly 145 mg per cup.

Improving Both Brewing Methods

Concerned about producing the best cup of coffee regardless of which method you’re working with. Well here’s the run-down on best practices to perfect every facet of your brewing.

Using freshly roasted coffee beans is your best bet for any coffee brewing. It’s going to give the coffee a true to form taste, and you’ll be able to judge beans correctly, without wondering if there’s something missing. And grind those beans on the spot! Coffee beans are known to start their process of going stale within thirty seconds.

This means you should be grinding only what you need on the spot. Unless you decide to trust an airtight container. Remember that these beans are responsible for the flavor of your morning brew, treat them well and it will pay off.

Using proper water is also recommended.

If the PH is off in the tap water you use, it’s not the beans responsibility to mask it. Keep in mind that coffee is like 98% water.

In fact, poor tasting water could be treated with chlorine from the city, or maybe the nutrient balance is off if you’re using well water. Finding a good source of water is tricky, but some places will sell reusable jugs of reverse osmosis water. If taking coffee seriously is your new resolution then perhaps it’s time to invest in proper water.

Stable Temperature During Brewing

For many connoisseurs of brewing coffee, there are a few factors that maintain the consistency of the brew, and while we’ve discussed water which is arguably the most important factor, the next one down the line is temperature.

Many will be curious to know that the way that many drip-coffee makers brew coffee leaves a huge gap in performance here. And the factor that allows us to reach the finish line here is actually the pour over method.

So why is this an issue and how is it fixed?

By and large, the vast majority of drip brewers don’t reach the ideal water temperature range for coffee. Or if they are reaching temperature during their cycle it’s not staying within that range for long. This is sort of a tragedy if you consider how many drip brewers are out there probably doing their job poorly.

Coffee Brewing Temperature

Pour over brewers have no control over the water temperature. That part is up to you. It’s extremely easy to put a kettle on the stove till it boils, so you never really have to worry about the water temperature with pour over brewing.

Taking control over temperature stability by boiling your own water is an easy and impactful way to improve your coffee in a way most drip brewers aren’t capable of mechanically. Drip coffee makers aren’t actually all that great in terms of teaching you how to brew better coffee. They’re meant to sit on your counter top and perform a specific task. It’s unlikely that they’ll do much more.

And we haven’t even gotten to the mold yet. Auto drip brewers are notorious for harboring dangerous bacteria in hard-to-clean places. Yikes!

Drip brewers just aren’t designed to be tools you’ll use for more than 2 or 3 years down the road. They will eventually just be landfill waste. Sad.

The story is completely different for pour over brewers. They’re designed so simply that you never have to worry about not cleaning them well enough. Most are designed with just one or two parts made of glass, metal, or plastic.

Pour over brewers are meant to be permanent staples of your kitchen. If you need to replace a piece of the puzzle it’s easy since there are seldom many components.

Drip brewers will be replaced unless you’re investing in a quality SCAA Certified coffee maker. Pour over brewers will most likely never need replacing.

Brewing coffee manually brings you to a state that drip brewing simply cannot fathom. Deep coffee-infused zen. You find focus in the meditative movements of pouring water. You find clarity in the rich aromas of every step of the journey. You awaken with intentionality as you appreciate that moment that’s all for yourself.

Sure, drip coffee pots are convenient, but they can only truly function in a one-dimensional way. The only factors one can alter are the grind size and the beans you choose to grind and subsequently brew with.

Chemex Manual Coffee Maker

Pour over brewers offer some particularly great coffee, complete control over the brew, and a meditational experience with focus, gratitude, and clarity.

Auto brewing is convenient, but it distances us from the reality that over a billion people work to support themselves in the global coffee industry. Throwing grounds into a machine that spills out coffee desensitizes us to the labor that got us the coffee in the first place.

Manual brewing allows our perspective to blossom. As we use our hands to brew, we consider the many hands that brought our precious coffee to us, and we become more compassionate and globally-conscious because of it. It’s a sort of meditation every morning, instead of just putting on the drip coffee and flipping through your phone while the brew completes itself. Manual coffee brewing captivates our senses of sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing. It provides a compelling moment to look beyond our own experiences and see the complexity and splendor of a process so simple as making coffee.Or maybe you’ve just made coffee at the perfect time of day

In the end, the choice is yours, they both have their fair share of advantages via, coast, taste, or convenience. We wish you luck for the rest of your coffee brewing adventures, and hopefully, you’ll find the right gear to make your journey wonderful.

Regular Drip vs Pour Over Coffee: What’s the Difference Anyway?

Manual coffee brewing methods are becoming increasingly popular, all around. You can typically find them in most coffee shops, nowadays, as well as in some home kitchens.

Pour-over coffee is similar to other manual methods, in that you get to control most aspects of the coffee, so it can be brewed to your preference, but have you ever wondered how it is different to regular drip coffee? These two methods are quite different, but they are both widely used.

At most coffee shops you can go in and order pour-over coffee, and you can choose a lot of things in how it’s made, offering a lot of choice to how your coffee tastes. However, even at a coffee shop, it will take a bit of time for pour-over coffee to brew.

One of the bigger differences I will note straight off is that regular drip coffee is an automatic process and there is not a lot you can do to change it.

Let’s look at how these two methods are different.

How are Pour Over Coffee and Regular Drip Coffee Different?

pour-over-coffee-kettleBefore we talk about each of these methods individually, I’ll go over a small list of how the methods are different.

  • Pour-over coffee is one of the most variable methods of manual coffee out there, while drip coffee is an automatic process and you can only change one or two things.
  • Drip coffee is typically not as strong as pour-over coffee.
  • You can run pour-over for multiple cycles, whereas drip coffee only runs once.
  • Regular drip coffee runs near boiling water over a chamber full of coffee beans. Pour-over coffee uses water that isn’t quite so hot; it is just hot enough to coax the flavor out of the beans and into the coffee.

As you can see, there is nothing too apparent, but let’s take an individual look at each to see just what makes each so different. I will note that the price difference can get quite high, depending on where you look for your kettle.

Is Pour Over Coffee better than Drip Coffee?pour-over-coffee

In many ways, I would say yes. Most manual methods of making coffee are better than using drip coffee, as manual methods offer more versatility and choice when making your coffee. The kettles for pour-over coffee can get somewhat expensive, so it may not be a feasible choice for everyone,

Pour-over coffee is a method created by Japanese people to have a unique way of making coffee.

One thing you should know about this special style of Japanese coffee is it isn’t something you can just pour and go. It requires a special kind of kettle, a certain kind of carafe, and good beans. This particular method of making coffee requires a lot of patience, as it is one of the most time-consuming methods of brewing coffee.

The method uses a narrow spout to produce an even, steady stream of water – instead of flooding the filter and letting it drip, you deliver a measured amount of water over a period of several minutes. This method may seem to be a bit tedious and annoying to take so much time to brew the coffee, but it is well worth the wait.

The resulting coffee tastes different than most other methods of making coffee you can find. The flavor can be sweet and bright, something quite distinct in coffee. It is rare to have coffee that tastes as unique as this method. I really think this type of coffee making is worth all the time it consumes.

If you don’t like the fuss of French press coffee, and the taste of drip coffee is too disdainful for you, pour-over coffee is definitely one of the best alternatives you can choose.

If you are looking into using this method, I would take a look at some grinders, as grinding your own coffee beans for this can make it all the more personal.

Now if you’re looking into getting a pour-over coffee kettle, there are several you can find, but I would personally recommend this Stagg pour-over kettle.

Now let’s take a look at the regular drip coffee.

Is Drip Coffee Better than Pour Over Coffee?

drip-coffeeThe answer to that is a strong no. Although drip coffee does have some benefits such as being quick and easy to make, it doesn’t taste quite as good as pour-over coffee.

If you are looking to avoid strong coffee, regular drip coffee is a perfectly fine choice. Drip coffee is the most widely consumed form of coffee and is generally the consumer choice. Drip coffee is strong enough to really taste the coffee, but not unbearably so.

Most drip coffee machines are fairly inexpensive, the same goes for pour-over coffee kettles. Neither of these methods will set you back all that much, so either one is a nice choice if you’re looking to save some money.

The nice thing about drip coffee is that the machines range widely, you can find some advanced coffee makers that can be programmed to start at your convenience. There’s a large range of versatility when it comes to drip coffee makers because of how widely popular they are.

The downside to drip coffee is that it tastes nowhere near the same as pour-over coffee. While this may seem like a small thing, you really aren’t getting as much value out of your coffee when you are using a drip coffee maker. Drip coffee only runs through the coffee once, so there is much less value in using one, but the main factor that might settle your choice is simply how much time you have.

If you can set aside the time for it, pour-over coffee is definitely more worth it, but some of us simply don’t have the time in our days to make it every morning.

If you are looking into getting a good drip machine, I would recommend a coffee maker like this BESTEK one. It is inexpensive and has the programmable timer I mentioned earlier.

So overall, while drip coffee is not necessarily a bad choice, it is nowhere near as good as pour-over coffee.

So Which Method is best?

Overall, I would really have to say that pour-over coffee is going to be the better choice for many reasons, although it does have the drawback of taking up a lot of time in the mornings. I think the time it takes is well worth the wait. Pour-over coffee is some of the best tasting coffee you can achieve.

Now, as I said, if you are one of those people that run on a tight schedule, a drip coffee machine will be perfectly fine because even though drip coffee normally isn’t very modifiable, you can buy different machines with different benefits to them that you won’t get from a pour-over coffee kettle.

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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