Pour Over vs Drip - Which Gravity Method Works Best?
In the barista world, there’s no question whether drip or pour over coffee is better.
Pour overs get a lot of attention in specialty shops. They’re fun to make, taste amazing, and look pretty cool sitting on a shelf.
But we aren’t all baristas in specialty coffee shops. And we don’t all feel comfortable enough with our coffee making skills to try out different manual methods.
In fact, we kind of like our drip machines, thank you very much.
It’s worth our time though to take another look at the drip and pour over methods. We’ll do that today by comparing the two methods to see which one makes it into your daily routine.
Comparison: Pour Over or Drip?
Ease of Use
Unlike drip coffee, manual brewing methods definitely require some skill. But with practice, you’ll find it’s not difficult. And who knows, you may even enjoy it!
Follow these steps as precisely as possible for the best brew:
- Grind your beans to a medium/coarse texture
- Rinse the filter with heated water (around 205F) and then discard the water
- Wet the grounds evenly
- Allow the coffee to bloom (roughly 45 seconds)
- Begin pouring the rest of your water evenly in a spiral pattern (for about 2 minutes 45 seconds)
- Remove the filter, swirl the coffee, and enjoy
Let the machine work for you here. All you need to do is:
- Pour clean, cold water into the reservoir
- Add a filter and then fill with medium ground coffee
- Press start to begin the brew cycle and enjoy
Drip wins easily here. But if you’re up for a fulfilling challenge, the pour over method isn’t as hard as it might seem at first.
You’ll only need around 3 minutes and 30 seconds for the actual brewing process. Add to that the time it takes to heat the water and grind the beans, and you’re looking at about 5 minutes or less.
The catch is, pour overs require attentive pouring. So make sure you give yourself time to enjoy the process as you’ll need to be there the whole time.
Quite the opposite of pour over, drip coffee can be left unattended for the 5-8 minutes it takes to finish brewing (depending on which machine you have). Still give yourself some time to grind fresh beans, but then you’re good to go.
This one’s a toss-up. On the one hand, you need dedicated time for pour overs. But they don’t really take that long. For drip, you can leave it unattended but it takes a little more time overall. The winner depends on how you want to spend your coffee brewing time.
Ease of Cleanup
Super easy cleanup process for pour overs. Simply throw out the filter, rinse the carafe with hot, soapy water, and you’re done.
Drip cleanup isn’t much harder than pour over. You also need to toss the filter and coffee grounds and clean the carafe. It’s recommended to clean the whole machine once every month or two, but even that process is simple.
A slight advantage goes to pour over cleanup because the carafes are a little easier to clean and there are fewer parts overall that you might have to clean. But neither takes much work.
Most pour overs hold an average of 8 cups (40 oz), but you can get ones that range from single use to 13 cups. Devices like the Bee House and Kalita Wave can sit directly on your mug, giving you the ability to make just as much coffee as you want.
If you want to make a lot of coffee at one time, a drip machine will do that for you. Most range anywhere from 8-12 cups, but some companies make 4 cup machines too.
Drip coffee can stay warm for a while provided you toss the grounds immediately, making it perfect for parties or just saving you brewing time throughout the day as you refresh your cup.
Again, each method has it’s advantages here. If you want a lot of coffee kept warm throughout the day, drip takes the lead. But pour overs come in close second for their versatility - brewing enough for just you or for a crowd.
Because pour overs use a unique spiral pouring method, you need a kettle you can control. Almost everyone recommends investing in a gooseneck kettle to assist in pouring. Bonus if you get one with a temperature gauge on the side.
You’ll also need filters that are specific to the pour over device you have. And for barista-level coffee, consider getting a scale and a timer too.
Buy the machine. Get some filters. And that’s all you need for years. For the best coffee experience, invest in a grinder for fresh beans. But this isn’t totally necessary.
Drip clearly wins here because you don’t need to invest in a lot of equipment initially or keep up with a lot after you pick your favorite machine.
Pour over devices themselves aren’t going to break the bank, but you may pay a hefty sum upfront purchasing a kettle, filters, timer, grinder, scale, etc. After that, you’ll just have to keep filters on hand, unless you go with a filterless design.
On the high end, you’ll find good-looking designs and customizable settings. These might set you back about $200 or so. But you can also go with something more basic that’ll still give you good coffee for around $30.
If you want a decent coffee making device, you can get either a pour over or drip machine for about the same price. But since you’ll also need to invest a little bit more at the beginning for pour overs, we’ll give the win to drip.
Because of the precise hand-pouring method, you get a more delicate and complex flavor with pour over than with drip coffee. This intricate flavor profile is one of the main reasons people choose to leave their drip coffee behind
Because everything is automatic, the flavor of drip coffee tends to be less refined and more suitable for everyone’s palette. The flavor usually comes out mellow and light.
Because your tastes are your own, and because pour overs allow you to control the taste to your liking more, pour over coffee wins the taste category.
Which Will You Choose?
As you can tell by now, the drip and pour over method actually have a lot in common. Both use gravity to brew coffee. Both clean up quickly, hold a lot of coffee, and won’t cost you too much.
The main differences though are time and taste.
Drip coffee reigns as the time king. It’s easy to make and requires little skill or effort on your part. It’s a quick, relaxed way to get your coffee fix.
But you give up some of the taste quality to get this ease of use. Pour over coffee is complex, rich, and sophisticated. And while it may take a little longer, the end product turns out better.