Hand-poured filtered coffee has its own special place in our hearts and mugs. While there’s nothing like a zippy and complex shot of espresso or a chewy full immersion French Press, for most of us, the pour over is our go-to for home, work and weekend brews.
Folks have been making their coffee this way for many decades – the first Melitta filter was designed in 1908 and can now be found in nearly every grocery shop, corner store, and bodega in America. The Chemex was invented in 1941 and remains essentially unchanged, its timeless design earning it a home in the MOMA permanent design collection.
Every year brings new pour over brewers to the market, as well as updates and tweaks to existing models. We’re always testing and vetting new brewers, but over the years the Bee House, Chemex, Hario V60, and Kalita Wave have been our tried and true go-tos to offer, based on quality and cup character.
We love all of these brewers for many different reasons as explained below, and they will all make you a very delicious cup of coffee, some quicker than others, and some with more technique required. But first, we’d like to offer the most important rule of thumb in making a great cup of coffee, drumroll please: Buy good coffee beans and grind them fresh.
Once you’ve got that part down, you’re well on your way.
The Bee House dripper is a sleek and simple daily pour over and is very well-loved here for its ease of use and for the sweet profile and heavier mouthfeel it yields in the cup. Use a medium-fine grind setting, about as fine as table salt.
The main benefit of the Bee House is that its filters can be found just about everywhere, as opposed to the Chemex, V60 or Kalita, which typically must be purchased in specialty shops, though they’re becoming easier to find in kitchenware and grocery stores. It’s also fast and pretty fool-proof. You can brew a 10 oz cup in about 2 minutes, and it’s hard to totally blow it. It’s also the least expensive.
For all of its excellent characteristics, the Bee House brews a cup that isn’t quite as expressive or nuanced as the other methods. Not as customizable as the V60, not as clean as a Chemex. It’s made of porcelain, so it doesn't travel well like the Kalita.
The Chemex has a thicker, patented filter that brews a clean cup, yielding a more delicate body and balanced floral notes. Use a medium grind setting, about as fine as kosher salt. Check out the brew guide to see how it works!
Its thicker filter brews a cup with enhanced clarity and sweetness. You can also easily brew larger batches (more than one cup) with the Chemex. The thick filter is also pretty forgiving to brew, as opposed to the V60, which offers a similar complexity but is more finicky.
You can’t find the filters everywhere like the Melitta, but they are more ubiquitous than the Hario V60 or Kalita Wave. It is made of glass, so it’s not portable.
Nuanced and versatile, the Hario V60 is an elegant brewer for those who want a bit of a challenge to perfect their daily brew. The brewer’s large opening and thin, proprietary filter allows for a faster brew and requires exacting technique and a steady hand. When it’s done well, it can make a beautiful, bright and crisp cup with stand-out citrus notes. Use a medium grind setting, about as fine as kosher salt. Check out the brew guide to see how it works!
The versatility here makes this a great brewer for pour over pros who really want to change things up and customize their brewing technique, based on variables like speed and method of pour. It’s more nuanced and more flexible.
Though it’s more customizable, it’s also less forgiving, and this brewer needs your full attention to nail it. All the pour over brewers greatly benefit from using a gooseneck kettle, but it’s nearly essential with the V60. The filters are not available in most places.
The Kalita Wave wins over coffee and design enthusiasts alike. The flat-bottom shape and unique wave-patterned filters (hence the name!) helps with even extraction while brewing. With the Kalita, you’ll brew up a consistently balanced, complex, and transparent cup. Use a medium-fine grind setting, about as fine as table salt. Check out the brew guide to see how it works!
The Kalita is lightweight and durable, making it a great on-the-go travel or camp brewer. Because of the flat-bottom design and special filters that help control how water flows through the coffee, it's more forgiving than the V60, and it has a more nuanced cup quality than the Bee House.
This one takes a bit more attention to brew well compared to the Bee House – the key here is a controlled spiral pour, so a gooseneck kettle is also ideal for this one. It’s the priciest of all the single-cup brewers and filters. The filters must be ordered online or found in a specialty shop.
All of these brewers bring something unique to the coffee table. We are often asked which is the best for which coffee, but we’d advise you to find which variables matter to you and let that be your guide.
Once you’ve found your brewer, here are some hot tips on How to Perfect Your Pour Over. For a deep dive on how filters affect your brew read on here.
More brew questions? We’re here to help. Check out our full Brew Guide or reach out to us.