Pour Over vs. Drip Coffee – What’s the Difference-which is Better?

What is the difference between pour over and drip coffee? Which coffee brewing method is better than the other? What is pour-over coffee? What is drip coffee?

If you are tired of spending too much money and time queuing and enjoying coffee at coffee shops every day, you must be looking for a convenient method to brew delicious coffee at home.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options out there for making barista-quality coffee at home. However, the two popular methods of brewing coffee are pour over and drip coffee. Ideally, the two methods are preferred because of their short brewing time and they make a delicious cup of coffee.

In this article, we are going to look at each of these two methods, and in the end, we will get to know which brewing method is better than the other.

Keep reading to learn more about the two brewing methods.

What is Pour Over Coffee?

The pour over isn’t a new brewing method although the third wave of coffee has seen coffee lovers going back to this method and made it popular just recently. This coffee brewing method has an efficient extraction capability.

Generally, this method involves pouring hot water over freshly ground beans in a filter allowing the coffee to drip in a carafe or mug below.

The pour over and drip coffee looks like similar techniques since they both involve pouring hot water over freshly ground beans to extract coffee into a container below. However, pour over is different in that it is more manual and that’s why it is called hand brewing or manual brewing. Also, there are better sides with pour over, drip coffee cannot offer.

The History of the Pour Over

Although coffee drinkers have been brewing coffee even before early 1900, there wasn’t a method that could prevent the grounds from entering into the cup. People used cloth or linen filters to sieve coffee grounds but these materials weren’t easy to clean and maintain. It was until 1908 when Melitta Bentz devised the paper filter.

She plucked blotting paper from her son’s school book and tried to use it as a filter and it kept the grounds from finding their way into the brewed coffee.

And because many coffee brewing techniques use filters, Melitta helped in the innovation of the pour over brewing technique by creating a paper coffee filter of some kind.

Why is Pour Over Brewing Method so Popular?

The pour over method is preferred over other brewing methods because it gives people full control over the brewing process. You can control the extraction process by observing the saturation of the grounds. This way, you enjoy a delicious cup of coffee that’s full of flavors and aromas. With pour overs, the extraction process takes a bit longer hence more flavor is extracted from the grounds. Besides, being a distillation method, it’s more efficient at extracting coffee solubles unlike immersion methods like the French press. This is because, with immersion techniques, the water is completely saturated while with pour overs, you pour fresh water constantly over coffee grounds.

Equipment Needed to Brew Great Pour Over Coffee

Although there is plenty of brewing equipment for pour over coffee, you can also make great pour over coffee without them all. After all, the ancient coffee drinkers could brew pour over coffee with just a simple device and filters of some kind.

Here are some basic things you need to brew pour over coffee.

A Brewing Device

Also known as a dripper, a brewing device is a piece of equipment where coffee is brewed in. There are plenty of options out there. The Chemex is one of the equipment you can use in this case.

The reason why people prefer to use the Chemex is that it’s simple to use and can be obtained easily. Besides, this equipment has coffee filters made explicitly for its design. Also, there is plenty of information on how to brew pour over using this equipment so you don’t have to worry about how to use them. You can as well ask a barista to recommend good devices for brewing your pour over coffee.

Kettle

If you’ve been keen enough you must have seen baristas using a small copper kettle when brewing pour over coffee. Well, you can just use a standard electric kettle. But it’s better not to use an electric kettle.

Remember, consistency is key here and a kettle made explicitly for pour over is made in a way that keeps the water at unchanging temperatures. This way, you get consistent extraction of flavors from the coffee grounds. Also, the long, thin gooseneck controls the flow of water.

Even if you decide to use a stove-top or electric kettle or any other equipment, make sure you have a thermometer to measure the temperature.

Coffee Filters

When it comes to coffee filters, you also have plenty of options from bleached, unbleached, paper to cloth filters.

Coffee filters are also controversial in some way and a good rule of thumb is to choose specific filters made explicitly for certain brewing devices since they allow efficient extraction.

For instance, there are coffee filters designed for use with the Chemex. These filters are said to be 30% heavier which aid in the retaining of the suspended oils when brewing coffee.

There have been complains about paper filters in that, some coffee drinkers say that they create a papery taste, especially the bleached ones.

That’s why coffee experts advise people to rinse coffee filters before using them.

Coffee filters have been used for many years now and are preferred because they don’t impact on the flavor and are eco-friendly than paper filters.

Ideally, you need to choose coffee filters that allow efficient flow of water and maximum extraction of flavors consistently.

Scales

Some coffee drinkers don’t use scales but it’s good to invest in a good digital scale as it will help you avoid the use of too much water or coffee grounds. Remember, you need to use the two at the right ratio and having a scale will help you to measure the exact quantity needed during the brewing process.

The Suitable Coffee to Use with a Pour Over

There are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing the coffee beans to use with a pour over coffee.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors below.

Grind Size

The grind size can affect the rate of extraction.

We said earlier that pour over uses the infusion technique where water is poured over freshly ground beans for a shorter amount of time unlike with an immersion technique.

For this reason, you need coffee that has enough surface area to extract (and not a large surface area that results in under-extraction) before the water gets into the cup.

The good thing is that you can experiment with different grind sizes until you get your ideal size. You can start with a medium grind size, then a finer grind and then a little coarser and play with the water temperature as well.

You also need a good coffee grinder for consistent grinding.

Coffee Roasts

You can experiment with a light roast but if you like, you can use medium or dark roast.

The Ratio of Coffee to Water

There is plenty of suggestions when it comes to the ratio of coffee to water out there that a beginner coffee drinker can get confused. However, a good ratio is to start with is 1:17. This means you add 1g of coffee per 17g of water.

Make sure you observe other factors as mentioned above such as grind size, water temperature until you get a recipe that works well for your pour over coffee.

You can also keep on changing the ratio until you get a great cup of coffee.

As a rule, always use filtered water instead of tap water because the latter contains minerals and contaminants that can kill the flavor.

Which Pouring Method Is Good For Pour Over?

If it’s your first time to brew pour-over coffee, then you should be careful when following advice shared on videos by many coffee drinkers out there. Watching too many videos can get you overwhelmed. A good way to brew pour over coffee is to start simple, be consistent on the way you pour water over coffee grounds and learn how to use the pouring methods we will share below.

Some coffee lovers pour in concentric circles as this helps to keep a consistent flow of water.

Here are the pouring methods to use:

Pulse Pouring & Continuous Pouring

Pulse pouring is when you pour specific amounts of water multiple times. This pouring method keeps the grounds from coming on the top of the filter. It also makes the grounds to move about and hence coming into contact with the water evenly.

Continuous pouring, on the other hand, is the constant pouring of water without stopping. This pouring method is used to keep the flow and saturation as even as possible.

Both pouring methods will have different effects on extraction. So you can experiment with each method until you get the best one to use for your pour over coffee.

The Bloom

Coffee starts to bloom as a result of the degassing of carbon dioxide that forms during the roasting process. The bloom occurs immediately you pour water for the first time.

Because light roasts and fresh coffee contain more gases, you can expect to see a big bloom.

Note that carbon dioxide can affect even extraction since it keeps the water away and the displaced grounds may not come into contact with water as required.

For this reason, you need to wait until the gas has escaped then gently pour water again to get consistent extraction.

Agitation

Agitation is the process of dispersing the grounds that may either be high or dry during the brewing process by either stirring or swirling the brew. Agitation also helps to break up coffee that’s intact so that grounds are evenly saturated and for even extraction.

Overall, pour-over coffee is easy to make. You just need to understand the concepts we have shared above, use the right tools, tweak and experiment with your brew process until you get a great cup of coffee.

Advantages of Pour Over Coffee

  • The pour over method gives you full control over the brewing process. This means you have the free reign to decide the amount of water to pour over ground beans, and when to stop pouring water.
  • It enables the extraction of intricate flavors and aromas from the grounds. Well, it takes a bit longer than drip coffee machines but the pour-over method lets you control how fast or slow you should pour water over the grounds. If you pour water faster, you will get coffee with a lighter taste. If you pour water a little longer, you will drink coffee with a stronger flavor.
  • It enables you to experiment- Since you will need to experiment with different variables, you end up being a coffee guru.
  • Pour over coffee machines are durable whereas drip brewers even though they are cheap, tend to break easily. Pour-over coffee makers are also easy to clean and maintain.

Disadvantages of Pour Over Coffee

  • The pour over method is slow.

What is Drip Coffee?

You can make drip coffee using two methods to make a drip coffee brew- with an automatic drip coffee maker or with a cone (pour over method).

Usually, drip coffee is brewed with an electric drip coffee maker. As you can see, with drip coffee, you can’t control the brewing process. As a result, there are plenty of chances to mess up with the process, especially if you are just starting. Nevertheless, you can still brew delicious coffee with this method.

Keep reading to know everything about the method.

A Brief History of Drip Coffee

It is believed that the first electric drip coffee maker named Wigomat was made in Germany in 1954 by Gottlob Widmann. Before then, coffee drinkers brewed coffee using Moka Pot, percolators or the pour over technique we talked about above.

With the invention of disposable filters, drip coffee became a popular method among coffee lovers since it allowed them to brew coffee more regularly and that’s why many American homes owned electric coffee makers.

Why Many People Prefer Drip Coffee?

Because of the speed in which electric drip coffee makers can brew coffee, these machines became popular throughout the 20th century, especially for people with 9-to-5 jobs. The use of percolators decreased after the 1970s when drip coffee makers became popular in many American homes.

But as we have mentioned above, with drip coffee, you don’t control the brewing process. You just pour the water in the reservoir and add coffee grounds in the filter then the machine does the brewing work for you.

How Drip Coffee Is Brewed?

Usually, to brew a perfect cup of coffee with any method, you need to know your preference, use the right brewing technique, make sure to use the right variables, and observe the time.

The Water

Make sure you don’t use poor quality water else you will brew an average cup of coffee. And even though tap water isn’t bad, it contains minerals and contaminants which will affect the flavor of your coffee.

Distilled water is also not good even though it doesn’t contain minerals as it will make a flat cup of coffee.

Always use filtered water. You can also use bottled water, particularly spring water since the minerals are balanced.

The Grind

Coffee grind size is an important factor you shouldn’t ignore no matter what brewing method you are using. The good thing is that most burr grinders have marks for the grind size.

Note that the finer the grinds the longer the steeping time since water will flow slowly through the finer grounds.

With coarser grinds water will pass through too fast hence under-extraction will occur.

Note that while many people argue that longer extraction time results in bitter coffee if you maintain the correct temperatures, you will get stronger coffer that’s not bitter.

Just imagine how Turkish coffee is brewed. This is perhaps the coffee that has longer extraction time but it does not result in over-extraction.

In simpler terms, the longer the extraction time under the wrong temperature, the bitterer the coffee will be.

Coffee that’s under-extracted will be flat with little or no aromas, caffeine and no body.

Coarse grinds should sit in the water a bit longer to be fully saturated which will result in tasteless coffee.

Coffee Grinder

A good rule of thumb is to grind coffee at home immediately before brewing. Ideally, coffee starts to lose flavor and aromas 15-30 minutes after grinding, especially when not stored properly.

To retain as much of the freshness of the beans, you need to grind the beans just before brewing. Owning a coffee grinder particularly a burr grinder is therefore good.

Find out what to consider when buying a coffee grinder in this detailed guide.

What Temperature is Right for Drip Coffee?

Whether you are using the drip coffee brew or any other brewing methods, the temperature is an important factor you shouldn’t overlook.

Keep the temperature between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit here.

The Coffee Maker

A coffee maker is a crucial equipment and for this reason, you need to research and compare different models and brands before you buy yours.

As we have mentioned above, an automatic drip coffee maker takes care of the entire brew process and that’s why many people prefer them.

Coffee to Water Ratio

The recommended coffee to water ratio is 2 tablespoons of coffee for 6 ounces of water (NCAUSA).

Nevertheless, if you have a sensitive stomach, you may want to reduce the amount of coffee and if you prefer strong coffee, you could increase the amount.

As a rule, you should always experiment until you get the right quantity of water and coffee for your drip coffee.

Tips for Perfect Drip Coffee

Normally, the filter is an important factor of drip brewing as is with other methods.

Paper filters are heavy and will hold more of the soluble solids in coffee so you rest assured of a clear cup of coffee. On the flipside, paper filters will hold the oils in coffee hence resulting in a flat cup of coffee.

Choose a mesh filter in this case, but keep your grinds coarse and use a high-quality grinder that grinds coffee beans uniformly.

If you opt for paper filters, don’t be deceived to buy the cheap ones.

Use fresh beans. If you use coffee beans that are older than 1 month, you will get an insipid cup of coffee. Also, make sure you drink drip coffee immediately after brewing.

To get fresh beans, buy from small roasters and store them properly. As a rule always buy high-quality coffee, preferable 100% Arabica.

Keep your coffee maker clean. When we talk about keeping your coffee maker clean, we talk about everything from the carafe, filters, pipes inside the machine, water reservoir and all the other accessories.

Advantages of Drip Coffee

  • It’s a convenient brewing method. You add the ingredients; it takes care of the entire brewing process.
  • You can use a combination of coffee for drip coffee.
  • It’s suitable for coffee lovers who prefer coffee with more caffeine.

Disadvantages

  • It doesn’t allow control over the brewing process hence chances of messing up with the brew are high.
  • You have to keep the coffee maker clean all the time hence it will attract dangerous bacteria that cause gastroenteritis and other serious sicknesses.
  • Most automatic drip brewers can’t reach the required temperature and there is no way you can change this.
  • Lack of control. Everything is pre-programmed hence you can’t control the actions.

Key Differences between Pour Over And Drip Coffee

You may decide to use both methods or decide to choose one since they are both great coffee brewing methods but it’s worth noting what keeps them apart.

To get good coffee, you need to get the brewing process right. Although plug-in brewers are great for people with a busy lifestyle, you will find that in the end, the pour over method remains the best method.

Let’s take a look at the differences between the pour over technique and drip coffee.

1. Coffee Quality

No matter what method you use, you just don’t want to compromise on the quality.

Here is the thing, just brew a mug of drip coffee and the same for pour over coffee and you will notice a huge difference in quality. And that’s just using the basic pour over methods with freshly ground beans and proper grind size.

Undeniably, you can make great drip coffee but only if you use a drip brewer that’s around $200+ and still, the flavor, aroma, and quality will still be lower than the pour over. Besides, most pour over cones cost around $20 to $30.

2. Consistence

With the pour over technique, you have full control over your pouring style but with drip coffee, the coffee maker does everything for you.

Since the pour over method is hands-on, water is evenly poured. This way, consistency is maintained hence resulting in a more balanced and satisfying coffee.

3. Temperature

The ideal temperature for brewing coffee is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, most drip coffee makers don’t reach this range which affects your final cup.

With pour over coffee, you can control the temperature of your water.

4. Durability

The materials combined to make pour overs are sturdy enough to make them last longer and if properly taken care of, your pour over can last for many years.

Pour overs are easy to clean as well.

On the other hand, drip brewers are made with plastic parts that can break easily and the wires can start fires any time.

Also, drip brewers can harbor dangerous bacteria that can cause serious ailments.

Pour Overs Vs Drip Coffee- FAQs

Is pour over coffee the same as drip coffee?

At their core, the two brewing methods use the same principle. Water is poured over ground beans. However, they all produce different results. Besides, they all use different equipment and variables.

Is pour over coffee really better?

Although pour over isn’t as strong as French press coffee, it contains great flavors. Also, pour over is preferred because of the quality of coffee it produces in the final cup.

Why is pour over coffee so good?

Pour over coffee is good in that it allows you to fully control the pouring style hence enabling you to get consistent and satisfying coffee.

Why is my pour over coffee bitter?

If your pour over coffee is bitter, chances are that you could be using the wrong grind size and temperature.

The grind size is an important factor when it comes to brewing coffee.

Grind coffee beans too coarsely and you get under-extracted and flat or sour coffee.

Grind coffee beans too finely and you get over-extracted or bitter coffee.

Keep your grinds the right size for every brewing method.

Does pour over coffee have more caffeine?

No. A single serving pour over coffee contains 80-185mg of caffeine which is just enough to get your day started.

What is the best grind for drip coffee?

Usually, most auto drip coffee makers work well with fine or medium grind but this will depend on the type of filter your machine uses.

For flat bottom filters, keep your grinds medium, for cone-shaped filters, use medium to fine grinds.

How much coffee do you put in a drip coffee maker?

Keep your coffee to water ratio at 1 tablespoon per 5 to 6 ounces of water if you want regular coffee and 2 tablespoons of coffee per 5 to 6 ounces of water if you want strong coffee.

Can you use pre-ground coffee for Pour over?

Yes, if you don’t have the time to grind the coffee yourself, you can use pre-ground coffee. However, if you want to make a great cup of coffee, we would advise you to grind coffee beans just before the brewing process.

Pour Over Vs. Drip Coffee Which Is Better?

Ideally, the pour over method allows you to adjust the water temperature and pouring style. This way, your coffee doesn’t suffer inconsistence issues. You can pour water evenly above the grounds and stop when it’s time to. With drip coffee, you don’t have control over the brewing process.

Now here is the thing. Whether pour over coffee is better than drip coffee depends on the qualities you are looking for in a cup of coffee. They include flavor, brew time, automatic or manual operations, etc.

Both the pour over and drip coffee make great coffee but overall, we believe pour over coffee is way better than drip coffee when it comes to flavor, aroma, consistency, control, and durability.

Happy Brewing!!


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Sophia Green
Sophia is a long time coffee enthusiast and blogger, so the project started naturally five years ago. You can find useful information about coffee types, plantations, equipment and even tips and tricks or fun facts.

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