Whether you are an avid coffee lover or just a casual coffee drinker, you have probably seen or used the standard drip brewing method via an at-home coffee machine.
Drip coffee brewing is one of the easiest ways to brew because you put in ground coffee and let the coffee machine take care of the rest.
Pour over coffee is growing in popularity and tends to brew coffee with a clearer and balanced flavor.
The differences between drip coffee and pour over coffee are subtle, though, so let’s work through in more detail what they have in common and which one is right for you.
What is Drip Coffee?
Drip coffee is the filter coffee that you would brew on a standard coffee machine.
Automatic drip machines are the most popular coffee brewer with over 75% of the U.S. market share.
With the push of one button, hot water is pumped through coffee grounds and can brew up to 12 cups at a time.
The History Behind Drip Coffee
While there was a stovetop drip coffee maker made in 1939, the first electric drip coffee maker—named the Wigomat—was invented in Germany in 1954.
By the 1970s, the popular company Mr. Coffee helped to propel the electric automatic drip maker into the most popular brewing method in American homes.
Why Some Drinkers Like Drip Coffee
To someone that is into specialty coffee and wants the most balanced and delicious flavors, using a drip coffee brewer might not make sense.
Why sacrifice the flavor by giving up control?
But there are some surprising and valid reasons why people prefer drip coffee.
Some of the pros of drip coffee include:
- You can brew large amounts quickly
- The machine’s hot plate keeps the coffee pot hot for hours
- It is as easy as pushing a button.
- Some prefer the intense/bitter flavor.
But there are some cons to drip coffee, including:
- The water inside often is not hot enough.
- The taste can easily be bitter and burnt.
- The machine’s insides can be dirty and moldy.
What is Pour Over Coffee?
Pour over coffee refers to the manual method of pouring hot water over coffee grounds.
Unlike the automatic machines, you have to babysit a pour over constantly to keep the water level and make sure everything drains properly.
The History Behind Pour Over Coffee
Manual pour over coffee has a much longer history than automatic machines, mostly because you can use just about anything as a filter.
Early brewing methods involved boiling and full immersion (like a french press), but eventually, people began using cloth bags to filter out the coffee grounds and leave behind a cleaner and tastier cup.
Why Some Drinkers Prefer Pour Overs
The main reason people prefer to make a pour over is the taste.
If you love specialty coffee and buy expensive beans (like with a coffee subscription), then you probably want the fine control that you get with a manual pour over.
Some of the main pros of a pour over include:
- You have ultimate control over the process
- Even and tastier extraction
- Adjusting brewing parameters changes the taste.
But there are some disadvantages to the manual pour over, including:
- It takes more time and requires full attention
- You can only make 3-4 cups at a time.
Pour-Over vs. Drip: The Difference Between Them
Now that you have a basic understanding of drip coffee and pour over coffee, let’s understand the intricacies more by exploring their differences.
Health and Caloric Intake
Because pour over and drip coffee are similar methods, they have just about the same health profile and caloric intake.
And both are healthier than immersion brewing methods like the French Press because the filter removes diterpenes, a coffee compound that raises cholesterol.
When comparing pour over and drip coffee, another notable difference between them is the caffeine content.
This factor might be relevant for those that are sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
How Much Caffeine Does a Cup of Pour-Over Coffee Have?
Pour over coffee has a range of caffeine content that depends on your recipe, but one serving can have as much as 185 milligrams of caffeine.
How Much Caffeine Does a Cup of Drip Coffee Have?
One cup of drip coffee from automatic machine averages 95 milligrams of caffeine.
Why Pour-Over Coffee Has More Caffeine
Pour over coffee tends to have more caffeine because you can brew with hotter water than most cheap automatic machines use.
Write about the time it takes to make coffee using each of the methods (pour-over & drip) and what would suit the reader based on their needs
Control Over the Process
When it comes to drip coffee vs pour over, the latter will always give you more control over brewing coffee.
Because you decide on all of the details—how to grind the coffee beans, how fast to pour water on the coffee grounds, etc—you can make fine adjustments that affect the taste.
The biggest advantage of a manual pour over is that you control the water temperature and the evenness of extraction (although some drip machines brew strength settings).
When you take the time to evenly pour hot water over the coffee grounds, you can get the same great flavors from all of the coffee beans.
There might have access to an expensive drip machine that can consistently brew great coffee with exceptional flavor.
But most houses tend to have a drip coffee maker that is on the cheaper side, and a cheap coffee machine tends to produce inconsistent extractions, often with a bitter aftertaste.
So if quality coffee with an amazing flavor is your main priority, you would be much better off taking the time to do a manual coffee brewing method like the pour over.
It gives you the control to get an even extraction that gets even the most delicate flavors out of the coffee beans.
When it comes to capacity, a lot depends on the size of your pour over coffee maker and your drip coffee machine.
The large Chemex, which can hold a maximum amount of 32 ounces, might be enough for a few people, depending on how much they prefer to drink.
But in general, drip coffee wins when it comes to capacity.
Besides the fact that the drip coffee machine usually makes up to 12 cups at a time, a drip coffee maker is also much faster at brewing lots of coffee for a large setting like an office.
Generally speaking, you have to separate temperature into two elements, brewing temperature, and coffee temperature.
One reason manual pour over coffee brewing tends to produce better flavors is that you can use a thermometer to get the perfect water temperature—the ideal temperature for brewing is around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and should not be less than 195.
But a coffee machine often struggles to get the water up to this temperature range.
A coffee machine does, however, have the advantage of a hot plate, which keeps the brewed coffee consistently hot.
Many people prefer drip coffee because they can brew a large pot and know that it will stay hot for hours.
Durability + Equipment
As with anything, the price range and durability of your equipment will depend largely on how much you are willing to spend.
For both pour over coffee brewing and drip coffee, spending more money will get you better tastes and more durability.
But generally speaking, the pour over method is a cheaper way to brew the most amazing coffee.
You can spend hundreds of dollars on a top-of-the-line drip coffee maker, but then you also have to worry about keeping the insides clean, including the hard-to-reach places.
And when an internal part breaks, you might not be able to fix it.
So the pros and cons are hard to weigh, and in the end, it depends on whether you are willing to take the time for a manual pour over.
With a good coffee grinder, gooseneck kettle, and pour over coffee maker, you will make better coffee and have more durable equipment with pour over coffee.
How to Brew Your Best Coffee
Now that you have a basic understanding of the differences between these two brewing methods, let’s go through the steps of how to brew your best cup on each of these devices.
Using Drip Coffee
The beauty of the drip coffee maker is that it is usually as simple as pushing a button and letting the coffee machine do the rest of the work.
But there are some general pointers to keep in mind that will improve the quality:
- Grind the coffee right before brewing
- Keep your machine clean
- Level the coffee bed before inserting
Using Pour Over
The pour over method, because you perform all of the tasks manually, requires a brew guide that is a bit more involved.
But when you do it correctly, the difference in taste is worth it.
And pour over brewing allows you to enjoy light roasted coffee with more delicate flavors.
All of the advice for the drip coffee maker—fresh coffee beans, correctly ground coffee, and proper temperature—are also important here.
The basic steps for pour over are:
- Measure and grind your coffee.
- Heat filtered water to 200 degrees.
- Pre-wet the filter to remove the paper taste.
- Pour water in a slow circular motion until you achieve a 1:17 ratio.
Verdict: Is Pour Over or Drip Better?
As you might expect, answering which brewing method is better ultimately depends on your needs and wants.
If you have the time and desire the best taste, pour over coffee is better.
But if you have limited time and need to brew a large amount of coffee for the whole house, a drip machine is the better option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you have a solid understanding of how both pour over and drip coffee works, let’s finish off this topic by answering some of the most common questions people have.
Can drip coffee be used for pour over?
Since both methods are similar, you can use the same coffee and grind between drip coffee and pour overs.
But if you are using a Chemex as your brewing method, the ground coffee for a drip coffee machine might be too small and slow down your brew.
Why does pour over taste better than drip?
The main reason why a pour over tastes better than drip brewing is because you have ultimate control over the details.
When you control the grind, water temperature, and evenness of water pouring, you are bound to get a more delicious cup than a drip machine makes.
Is there a way to enjoy pour over coffee that isn’t lukewarm?
Drip coffee and pour over coffee brewing can suffer from the lukewarm temperature when you are ready to drink.
One way to avoid this is to preheat all of your brewing equipment ahead of time which helps avoid heat loss.
Hopefully, you now have a much clearer idea of the similarities and differences between drip and pour over coffee.
If you have brewed on an automatic machine and love coffee, it might just be time to buy a manual pour over and try out that exciting method!