We Tested 8 Pourover Coffee Drippers—Here Are Our Favorites

Our top pick is the Kalita Wave Stainless 185 Dripper.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
four different styles of pourover makers

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Straight to the Point

Our favorite pourover drippers are the Kalita Wave Stainless 185 Dripper and Hario V60 Mugen Coffee Dripper. For an in-depth guide on how to brew pourover coffee, head here.

As a longtime coffee professional (I’ve worked in the industry for 16 years), I own a number of high-end automatic brewers. However, every morning I find myself opting for a pourover dripper instead.

Regardless of the debate over whether pourover or auto-drip makes better coffee, I find myself gravitating towards pourover brewing for one main reason: my brewing equipment is easier to keep clean. Thermal, stainless steel carafes keep coffee hot really well, but they can also hold onto old coffee oils that need a deep cleaning to remove. With a pourover, when I finish my coffee, the glass server I brew into goes right into the dishwasher and emerges perfectly clean and ready for the next morning. (Plus, there's just something soothing about manually brewing coffee.) And, truth be told, most pourover drippers can brew an outstanding cup of coffee, as long as you tailor your brewing process to the particular quirks of each device.

Because every pourover dripper is designed to be used in a specific way, it’s difficult to pit brewers against one another. So, for this review, instead of evaluating each model on the quality of coffee it produced, I focused more on ease of use, general performance, and overall design. I tested both classic drippers (brewers that helped to define a new shape or style of pourover, which include the Kalita Wave Stainless 185 Dripper, Zero Bee House, Chemex 6-Cup Brewer, and Hario V60) and newer pourover brewers (these are generally modifications on the aforementioned original designs and include the Hario Mugen Dripper, Clever Coffee Dripper, Origami Dripper, and Hario W60).

The Winners, at a Glance

The Best Classic Pourover Brewer: Kalita Wave Stainless 185 Dripper

kalita 185

Nearly indestructible and with a comfortable handle and great brew performance, the Kalita Wave Stainless 185 Dripper is a great all-around brewer. It can be paired with this carafe.

The Best Newer Pourover Brewer: Hario V60 Mugen Coffee Dripper

Mugen coffee dripper

With its ceramic cone and heat-proof plastic handle and holder, the Mugen dripper features flat walls to slow dripping with limited airflow, creating a more forgiving pouring process. It brewed a great-tasting cup and its simple design made it stand out amongst the other brewers. It can be paired with this carafe.

The Tests

the Origami brewer loaded with coffee

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

  • Test 1: Empty Filter Flow Rate (all brewers)
  • Brewers are set up with a rinsed filter
  • 500 grams of water is added over 20 seconds
  • The flow rate of water through the empty filter is measured and recorded to assess the filter and brewer’s effect on flow rate
  • Test 2: Coffee Flow Rate (all brewers)
  • Brewers are set up with 30 grams of coffee
  • Coffee is brewed normally, with each brewer receiving 500 grams of water, a 45-second bloom, and 210ºF water added 100 grams at a time every 10-15 seconds (pour is finished at 2 minutes, 40 seconds)
  • Flow rate of water through coffee is measured and recorded
  • Test 3: Temperature Stability (all brewers)
  • A Thermcouple's probes are positioned in the coffee bed 
  • Water is set to 210ºF (using a gooseneck kettle)
  • Temperature is recorded during brew cycle 
  • Temperature is noted at initial temperature during bloom and peak temperature during brewing, to see if any dripper has a stable temperature advantage
  • Test 4: Extraction and Roast Degree (only the four classic brewers)
  • Coffee is brewed with four different roast styles: light, medium-light, medium, and dark roast
  • Coffee is brewed normally, with 30 grams of coffee, 500 grams of water, a 45-second bloom, and 210ºF water added 100 grams at a time every 10-15 seconds (pour is finished at 2 minutes, 40 seconds)
  • Coffee extraction data from a coffee refractometer is recorded to assess any impact the brewer's design has on extraction
  • Coffee is tasted for flavor quality and potential impact of brewer's design on flavor is assessed
  • Test 5: Extraction and Flavor Quality (four newer brewers only)
  • Coffee is brewed with one roast degree: medium roast 
  • Coffee is first dialed in to extraction data and flavor quality using the Kalita Wave 185 Stainless brewer to establish a baseline
  • Coffee is brewed taking into account the natural flow rate of the dripper and response to drip speed, using 30 grams of coffee, 500g water, and 210ºF water added 50-60 grams at a time (pour is finished between 3 minutes, 6 seconds and 3 minutes, 40 seconds)
  • Coffee extraction data from a coffee refractometer is recorded to assess any impact the brewer's design has on extraction
  • Coffee is tasted for flavor quality and potential impact of brewer's design on flavor is assessed

Why You Should Trust Us

I’ve been working in specialty coffee since 2006, first as a barista at Starbucks and then as a barista at high-end coffee bars, a wholesale trainer, and a national wholesale education manager. Now, I'm a sales and marketing manager at Ruby Coffee Roasters. I have spent many years studying coffee extraction science along with brewing theory, and was responsible for testing brewers and drippers for the roasting companies I worked for—along with being asked to do product testing for manufacturers as part of quality control testing during the product development cycle. This is my first product review for Serious Eats, but previously I have written about the extraction process of coffee for this website, and have been published in a number of coffee trade publications. 

What We Learned

Looking at the Classic Drippers

coffee being bloomed in a Kalita Wave 185
Coffee mid-bloom in a Kalita Wave 185 dripper.

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Since I knew, from years of use, that all four of the classic pourover brewers I was evaluating were capable of producing a great tasting cup of coffee, I designed tests to evaluate how each brewer responded to a rigid brewing recipe and if there were any performance differences worth noting. All of these brewers handled the temperature tests similarly—most of the drippers started out with a temperature around 190-192ºF in the coffee bed during the bloom, and peaked at 194º-198ºF during the brew cycle. The differences with these brewers mostly came down their usability, as well as other factors (like dripper shape) described below.

Evaluating the New Drippers

an up close shot of coffee brewing in the Hario Mugen
The Mugen is an example of a newer dripper.

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Because the standardized testing was so rigid for evaluating the four classic brewers, I wanted to switch things up slightly for testing the four newer dripper designs. I selected the Kalita Wave, the brewer I use most frequently in my personal life, and a coffee from the roastery I work for so that I would be very familiar with the flavor notes and brewing process. I first dialed in the coffee on the Kalita Wave for flavor, adjusting the grind setting and pouring speed to best accentuate the coffee. I then brewed with each the Hario W60, the Hario Mugen, the Clever, and the Origami brewer. Instead of following the same pouring pattern as the Kalita Wave, I paid attention to how the water levels were rising and falling and adjusted the way I added the water in order to create an even saturation of the coffee bed from start to finish. The only outlier was the Clever brewer, which featured a stopper that transformed the dripper into an immersion device, like a French press. In the case of the Clever, I used the same ratio and water temperature, but allowed the coffee to steep for four minutes before opening the valve and letting it drip. That led to pour times and drip times varying, but extremely consistent extraction numbers. From there, I felt confident in evaluating each of these brewers on flavor.

Flat-Bottom vs. Cone-Shaped Drippers

an overhead look at the Kalita Wave 185 brewer
A look at the Kalita Wave 185's flat-bottom bed.

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The Kalita Wave was the only brewer that offered any significant flow restriction with just a filter and no coffee, but it was also the brewer that finished draining the fastest during each brew test when coffee was present. While this may seem backwards, it all comes down to the prevailing debate in drip coffee: flat-bottom vs. cone-shaped filters. The main core difference is bed depth. In Ted Lingle’s The Coffee Brewer’s Handbook, he outlines how bed depth in drip brewers can affect flow rate and extraction quality. If there’s too much coffee in the filter, the bed depth is too deep and the water will likely flow too slowly and even up and around the coffee bed, bypassing the coffee and going down the sides of the filter. Too little coffee and there’s not enough resistance from the bed depth and water flows quickly, channeling through pockets of least resistance in the coffee bed.

An overhead look at the Hario V60 brewer
An example of a cone-shaped dripper.

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Since the Kalita Wave is a flat-bottom brewer, the bed depth is relatively shallow compared to the same amount of coffee stacked in a narrower cone. Because of this, the Kalita Wave 185 is usually recommended for a minimum of 16 ounces of brewed coffee while the Hario V60 is usually recommended for maximum of 16 ounces of brewed coffee, even though both brewers are around the same size. While both can brew great coffee, the type of dripper that's right for you may depend on how much coffee you're looking to regularly brew.

Measuring Total Dissolved Solids

a pourover brewer with a refractometer and temperature-tracking tools surrounding it
We didn't find design impacted total dissolved solids (TDS).

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

To test whether the brewer's design impacted extraction, I used a refractometer. The coffee refractometer was designed to use spectrum light refraction against a sample of brewed coffee to calculate the percentage of total dissolved solids (TDS) in the brewed coffee solution, which measures the actual percentage of coffee compared to water that's present. In general, our coffee preferences for drinking lie between 1.20% and 1.5% TDS, with the former generally tasting slightly weak to most people and the latter tasting quite strong. Refraction can be fairly temperature specific, however, and while .10% TDS can represent a significant strength and flavor difference, there’s usually a margin of error of .05% TDS for any comparative reading. The extraction data for each brewer with each roast was generally within .05-10% TDS with a few random outliers, but no brewer showcased an ability to greatly extract more or less than the others. And with a standardized pouring method and standardized grind size, it’s difficult to take these comparative tests without a grain of salt. Because, ideally, each brewer would be dialed in with a specific pouring speed to match the brewer’s draining speed, and grind size that brings out the best flavors for each brewer.

Why Brew Temperature Didn't Factor Into Our Results

The clever brewer with temperature probes tracking the brewing temperature

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

While brewing coffee at temperatures close to boiling can bring out dry and astringent flavors and temperatures lower than 190ºF can make the coffee taste more flat and sour, all of these pourover brewers can easily be manipulated into brewing between 195ºF-200ºF. Because each brewer relies on a single stream of water and has an open top, it doesn’t really matter what material the brewer is made from, as long as the temperature in the kettle starts out high enough and you try to get your kettle's spout as close as you can to the coffee bed (which is why a variable temperature, gooseneck kettle is mighty helpful for making pourover). Almost all of the brewers hovered between 194-199ºF at their peak, and there were no significant flavor differences easily tied to temperature.

It is worth noting that since the Chemex had the highest sides and therefore had the biggest drop from the kettle to the brew bed, it suffered the most temperature loss. Still, the Chemex's temperature fluctuated between 191ºF and 194ºF, and by brewing a larger amount of coffee or keeping the kettle at a stable temperature during the brew process, there are easy ways to bump that temperature back into higher, more ideal range.

Brew Times Don't Have to Be That Specific

Brewing pourover coffee with a Hario brewer and using a gooseneck kettle to add water

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Throughout testing, shorter and longer brew times didn’t have a massive impact on overall extraction from the coffee. Brew times are a good metric for consistency's sake, but a difference of 15-20 seconds won’t likely make or break your brew. What is more important for extraction is a consistent saturation of the coffee and a controlled pouring speed, and a general brew time target of 3:00-4:00 minutes for a brew that uses 500 grams of water. At the same time, brewers that drain more slowly, like the Chemex, can brew for a good 30-45 seconds longer without affecting the overall extraction data or flavor of the coffee.

Some Filter Designs Can Be Finicky

Hario W60 filter with coffee grounds in it

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

One of the things that makes the Chemex unique is its single-sheet, folded paper filters. It’s also what makes the brewer difficult for some. The filters are designed for the size and slope of the 8-cup brewer, so they’ll never quite seat flush against the slope of the 6-cup brewer. The airflow is also reliant on being able to escape out of the spout, so if you pour too aggressively, the filters can collapse, cut off the airflow, and your coffee will all but cease dripping. On the other hand, the flat-bottomed Kalita Wave filters with scalloped edges are prone to collapse if you try to rinse them by pouring along the folds. Instead, you have to pour straight down the middle of the filter until the water saturates up the walls, sticking each fold properly in place.

The dual filter of the W60 was perhaps the most confounding, though. While the mesh flat-bottomed filter allowed some particulate through, the paper filter below (yes, there are two filters) is designed to catch any oils or super-fine coffee particles. If the paper filter starts to clog up, however, you’re left with the coffee in the bottom half of the dripper rising high enough to start to re-steep the coffee in the top, flat-bottom mesh filter. While more careful pouring can probably avoid this filtration traffic jam, it does seem to require more nit-picky pour management than desirable. 

The Criteria: What We Look for in a Pourover Dripper

Pourover brewer with some text points around it

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub / Amanda Suarez

Pourover drippers should serve one clear purpose: to brew great tasting coffee. Aside from that, the best pourover drippers are easy to grab onto to put on and take off their holding vessel, simple to set up, and forgiving for novice brewers who are learning how to pour water with precision. They should also be durable and easy to clean and source filters for. 

The Best Classic Pourover Brewer: Kalita Wave Stainless 185 Dripper

kalita 185

What we liked: It’s impossible to ignore just how indestructible this brewer is. And while it brews great coffee, anyone who has been brewing with pourover drippers for long enough will tell you just how simple it is to shatter a glass or ceramic dripper if accidentally dropped. Aside from its durability, the Kalita Wave's flat-bottom design makes it a forgiving brewer for novices while offering great flow control for experts. Some may argue that a flat bottom also promotes more even extraction, since there’s no point for coffee to collect at and theoretically extract more from. However, I found the main advantage of this flat-bottomed design was a consistent flow rate and drainage speed. It allows for the user to grind finer or coarser while being able to maintain a fairly consistent brew time, and that can greatly help dial in the perfect brew. 

The Kalita Wave also had a comfortable handle. With a plastic coating and a flat ledge for your thumb to rest on, the handle didn't get hot and wa easy to grab.  

What we didn’t like: Because of the brewer's flat-bottomed design, it was tricky to brew less than 16oz. The sweet spot for this brewer seems to be in the 18-24 ounces, or 600-750 grams, of water. In these larger batches, the flow rate was easy to control and kept the coffee bed saturated. In smaller batches, the coffee tended to drain too quickly. The Kalita Wave filters are also harder to source—while many local coffee shops and even grocery stores stock filters for the Hario V60 or Chemex, Kalita Wave filters are generally only available online or at specialty coffee retailers. 

Key Specs

Water being poured in a pourover brewer

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The Best Newer Pourover Brewer: Hario V60 Mugen Coffee Dripper

Mugen coffee dripper

What we liked: The Mugen dripper is designed with flat walls to slow the flow rate during coffee brewing...and it did just that. While the Mugen advertises that this is designed specifically for a single, slow pour, good coffee brewing technique suggests that adding water in pulses is not only more forgiving, but helps the coffee bed settle to the bottom of the filter for more even extraction. So, pulse with the Mugen I did. I found that the slower drip speed was much more forgiving than the heavily ridged Hario V60. And while the drainage speed matched that of the Chemex, the Mugen's paper filter and open-bottomed design was much less picky than trying to properly seat a Chemex filter. The Mugen's V-shaped cone made it easy to create a consistent flow from the bed depth with smaller brews (all the way down to 10 ounces or so), making the Mugen a great brewer to reach for when you want to brew just one cup of coffee.

Against all of the other newer brewers, the Hario Mugen brewed the cleanest, sweetest tasting coffee with bright, fruit tasting notes, a silky light body, and a clean, sweet finish. With an affordable price tag, an attractive design made from (mostly) high-end traditional ceramic, and its V60 filters being readily available, the Hario Mugen is an extremely approachable and attractive brewer that yields great results. 

What we didn’t like: My main issue with the Hario Mugen was the awkwardness of the plastic base/handle. Designed with a slight upward swoop, the Mugen’s base is striking to look at but awkward to hold. Since most of the weight of the coffee is centered and the main grabbing point is offset, the brewer felt unbalanced in hand. While the plastic material of the base helped add durability to the brewer overall, it was also quite cheap-feeling compared to its high-quality ceramic cone.

The V-shaped cone also made this brewer difficult to manage when brewing over 16 ounces of coffee.

Key Specs

Pouring water from a gooseneck kettle into the Hario Mugen brewer

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The Competition

  • Zero Bee House: The Bee House performed admirably in the brewing tests, but ultimately the handle was too small and it almost slip out of my hand multiple times. Its flat-sided cone shape is not quite a flat bottom, not quite a cone, and overall felt like an awkward brewing environment. The brewer is based on the original pourover shape designed by Melitta in 1937, with an extra hole added for more even draining. Even with an updated classic design, the Bee House dripper just didn’t showcase any major advantages. 
  • Hario V60: The Hario V60 also had a solid performance, but the large opening and heavy ridging can make for a fast brew cycle, and also allowed brewed coffee to escape out the sides of the filter—bypassing the main portion of the coffee at the bottom of the cone. Originally launched in 2004, the Hario V60 was developed to create a faster brew cycle than its contemporary competition. Its popularity has made it a go-to brewer for many, but the improvements made by the Mugen seem to solve brew speed and circumvent the V60's issues.
  • Chemex 6-Cup Brewer: With too picky of a filter design and finicky of an airflow vent, the Chemex 6-cup brewer can just be a headache to use. While it can brew great coffee and the slower drip times are more forgiving for novices, it also presented a lot of opportunity for user error and difficulty brewing. For those interested in its striking shape, the brewer was originally developed by the chemist Peter Schlumbohm in the 1940s based on the erlenmeyer flask. Schlumbohm tried to capitalize on the brewer’s trendy success in the 1960s by attempting to launch Chemex as a lifestyle brand including a water flask, a Chemex car, and, yes, even a Chemex cigarette holder. 
  • Clever Coffee Dripper: Not quite a pourover, the Clever’s biggest design flaw lied in what’s considered its key design feature. The Clever consists of flat-sided cone that features a rubber stopper at the bottom that turns it into an immersion brewer. By steeping the coffee instead of relying on a drip function, the brews that came out of the Clever tasted very papery and thin. It’s likely that the immersion brew action on the Clever just doesn’t quite extract coffee as well in this format, and also that by steeping while sitting in a paper filter, the coffee brewed in a Clever can easily absorb the flavor of the paper itself. While it was easy to use, the flavor quality was easily beat out by any other pourover dripper or even a simple French press. 
  • Origami Dripper: A ceramic brewer shaped with 20 distinct folds, the Origami brewer can be used with both with V-shaped filters and flat-bottomed filters. Tested as a flat-bottom brewer with a Kalita Wave filter, it was mesmerizing to see how perfectly each scalloped fold of the filter fit into the ceramic folds on the brewer. At the same time, the Origiami doesn’t have an attached base, making it awkward to hold and move around, and in taste tests it didn’t match the clarity of flavor of the Kalita Wave. The Origami brewer is gorgeous though, and it did brew tasty coffee. This is likely the best pick if you’re willing sacrifice ease of use for aesthetics, and there is an optional dripper holder to improve on its usability.
  • Hario W60: This brewer was just too picky for the average home brewer. The W60 features a flat-bottom mesh filter basket that hovers over a ceramic cone designed to hold a paper V60 filter. The core idea seems to be that you can extract coffee in the flat bottom mesh basket while the paper filter below removes all grit and oils. While a dual filter system is intriguing and offers multiple ways to brew, getting the coffee to flow through the brewer consistently without backing up and re-steeping the brew bed was difficult. It’s hard to recommend the W60 to anyone as a daily brewer, though pourover aficionados might enjoy tinkering with this brewer and unlocking its full potential through trials and testing.

FAQs

Is pourover coffee better than drip coffee?


Pourover coffee has some advantages over automatic drip coffee brewers. Good automatic drip brewers have built-in water temperature regulation, built-in brew times, and a reservoir that you pre-fill in order to get an accurate water volume for your brew. However, the brewers that hit those marks consistently and in the range for ideal coffee brewing tend to be on the pricier end. 

Pourover coffee allows the brewer to control every aspect of the brewing process, which can match the quality of high-end automatic drip brewers for a fraction of the cost. Pourover brewing does take more time an effort, but does, however, have more room for brewer error

Do I need a fancy kettle/scale/grinder for pourover brewing?

Investing in your gear can help you make better, consistent coffee. Variable temperature gooseneck kettles control the temperature and flow rate of water, which helps the brewer hit the same brew time targets time after time. Scales help measure coffee and brew water by weight more accurately than volume can, creating a repeatable recipe. Grinders are a key to any quality coffee: while it’s important to grind coffee fresh, it’s also important to have it ground to a precise setting, and to have the ability to adjust that setting.

Is pourover better than French press?

Both pourover brewing and French press brewing are manual brew methods, meaning that the person brewing the coffee has full control over all of the brew variables. While pourover is a drip brew method that generally uses a paper filter, a French press is an immersion brewer that uses a metal mesh filter. Both methods are able to brew great tasting coffee, but each brews a different style of coffee. The mesh filter on a French press allows for more particulate and more coffee oils to wind up in the cup, giving the brew more heft and body, while the paper filter removes all particulate and results in a lighter bodied, cleaner tasting cup.