Many coffee lovers are under the impression that you need an expensive coffee machine to brew a perfect cup of coffee at home. However, that’s not necessarily the case.
AeroPress and pour-over offer cheap alternatives to costly machinery. But which makes the better coffee, and which is best suited to your needs? Let’s take a look.
AeroPress vs Pour-Over Coffee – An In-Depth Comparison
Choose AeroPress If You…
- Are a frequent traveler
- Drink coffee on your own
- Want to brew coffee quickly without hassle
- Enjoy trying new recipes
- Are new to coffee brewing
Choose Pour-Over If You…
- Brew batches of several cups of coffee
- Are happy to learn and practice your brewing techniques
- Want to preserve the flavor profiles and characteristics of the beans
Difference In Coffee Makers
AeroPress Coffee Maker
Inventor Alan Adler launched AeroPress in 2005. An AeroPress brewer has a plunger with an airtight silicone seal, a filter cap, and a brew chamber.
There are two models – the original AeroPress and a more compact version, the AeroPress Go. Both models use BPA-free plastic. Meanwhile, each comes with a stirrer, an Aeropress scoop, and circular paper filters. (Check our full AeroPress Review here)
Pour-Over Coffee Maker
Pour-over coffee makers differ depending on the brand. However, a handful of brewers are particularly popular, namely the Hario V60, Chemex, Melitta, and Bodum pour-over. These pour-over coffee makers use different materials, including plastic, glass, ceramic, stainless steel, and silicone.
Pour-over brewers are usually cone-shaped, with a large hole, or several holes, at the base. Some use paper filters, while others use reusable stainless steel filters. The majority are standalone drippers. However, brewers including the Chemex and Bodum are one-piece pour-over devices with carafes.
All AeroPress filters are the same size and shape – small and round for a cleaner cup of coffee. So, whether you have an original AeroPress or an AeroPress Go, the filters are identical. Meanwhile, they’re inexpensive, too, with a pack of 350 costing around $5.
Many pour-over brewers use paper filters too. However, depending on the brand, their sizes and shapes differ. For example, Chemex has a bespoke filter that is thicker than most others. Meanwhile, the Hario V60 has cone-shaped filters with 01, 02, and 03 sizes corresponding to the model size. Elsewhere, the Kalita Wave has a basket-shaped filter, while other drippers use Melitta-style paper filters. They come in different sizes, too, so you’ll need to ensure you purchase the ones compatible with your brewer.
What Coffee Do AeroPress and Pour-Over Brew?
The original purpose of AeroPress was its ability to brew concentrated espresso-style coffee easily. Once brewed, you can drink it as it is or dilute it with water. However, as its popularity has grown, people have become more creative with the device, inventing recipes shared among domestic brewers and professional baristas worldwide.
So, you can make cold brew, iced coffee, French press-like coffee, or even pour-over coffee with this versatile little coffee maker.
Pour-over brewers are limited to drip coffee. Of course, you can still tweak the grind size, water temperature, brewing time, and brewing technique. However, you will still ultimately have a drip coffee. Meanwhile, pour-over drippers limit you to hot coffee or coffee over ice, including the Japanese iced coffee we’ve previously examined. Without steeping, you can’t make coffee with cold or room temperature water.
How To Brew Coffee With AeroPress or Pour Over?
Making coffee with these two brewing methods is fully manual and relatively hassle-free.
Brewing Coffee With AeroPress
AeroPress uses pressure and immersion to brew coffee. As we mentioned earlier, there are many recipes for AeroPress, but the original brew method uses the following steps.
- Place a paper filter in the cap.
- Attach the cap to the brew chamber.
- Place the brew unit on your cup.
- Add one scoop of finely ground coffee to your brew chamber and ensure the coffee bed is level.
- Pour water to the number one mark on the brew chamber, then stir the mixture for 10 seconds.
- Place the plunger into the chamber and carefully push it down.
Many users brew with an inverted method, which is straightforward too. You can read a more detailed AeroPress brewing guide here.
Brewing Coffee With A Pour-Over Brewer
Pour-over method uses percolation. Meanwhile, regardless of the brand, most pour-over brewers work almost the same way. The coffee brewing process typically takes between two and four minutes.
- Place the paper filter into the dripper and rinse it with hot water.
- Add medium-grind size coffee into the filter.
- Pour a small amount of water to bloom the coffee grounds and leave it to saturate for 30-45 seconds.
- Using a circular motion, pour hot water slowly and leave the coffee to drip into your cup or carafe.
How Does AeroPress Coffee Taste?
AeroPress combines the immersion method of the French press with pressure to produce a full-bodied coffee.
Meanwhile, if you follow the steps of the original recipe, you will have an espresso-like drink with a layer of thin crema on top. This means you can make drinks similar to espresso-based drinks, including latte and cappuccino, making it a popular choice for espresso lovers who lack the budget for an espresso machine. This is a key difference between AeroPress and pour-over, which can’t make espresso-like drinks.
Because of the paper filter, the Aeropress brewed cup of coffee is also sediment-free, unlike the French press.
This coffee maker is also so versatile that you can make a good cup of coffee quickly or try out different coffee recipes or brewing methods.
Finally, the best roasts for AeroPress are medium to dark.
How Does Pour-Over Taste?
Pour-over coffee accentuates the flavor profiles and characteristics of the original beans, which makes it a big favorite of specialty brewers. For example, coffee aficionados will generally prefer single-origin beans using pour-over. Meanwhile, if you brew the coffee correctly, pour-over will produce a delicious coffee beverage. Ideally, you should use light to medium roast beans with your pour-over.
Because of the shot extraction process, AeroPress is best-suited to a finer grind size between espresso and drip coffee. Meanwhile, pour-over coffee grounds should be medium-fine to medium coarse for the best results. Check out our coffee grind size chart for more details.
Ease Of Use
Of the two methods, AeroPress is the easiest to master. Alan Adler envisioned a rapid brewing method, which is certainly what the original recipe produces. Meanwhile, there are number marks on the brew chamber, so you know exactly where to pour water. Also, there is a dedicated scoop, so measuring your grounds is easy. Another plus is you won’t need a special pouring technique required to make consistently good coffee.
In contrast, the pour-over brewing method requires a steeper learning curve. Therefore, you’ll need the necessary brewing know-how to make perfect coffee. You’ll also need a gooseneck kettle to have the optimum control of the water flow, while you’ll also need to experiment until you find the best brewing time and temperature. You’ll often find a professional barista pouring water slowly to a pour-over dripper positioned on a coffee scale with a timer. In other words, even for the experts, care and attention are needed to make the perfect coffee.
AeroPress Brew Size
AeroPress has an extremely compact footprint, so it’s only suitable for single-serve brewing. Indeed, even the larger original AeroPress only has a 10oz capacity brew chamber. Meanwhile, the AeroPress Go has an 8oz capacity chamber.
Nevertheless, because AeroPress coffee is so robust and concentrated, you can brew between one and four espresso-style drinks using between one and four rounded scoopers of coffee using the scoop supplied with the coffee maker. Then, you just need to add water to the appropriate number marked on the brew chamber and dilute the drink with hot water to make up to four 8oz cups of an Americano-style drink.
Pour-Over Brew Capacity
With pour-over, the size of the brewer will determine how much coffee you can brew per batch. For example, with a glass Chemex, there are several brew sizes from 3 to 13 cups. This means you can brew a maximum of 65oz of coffee, which is ideal if you’re brewing for family members or a group of friends. Elsewhere, the Hario V60 has sizes of 01, 02, and 03, allowing for several cups of coffee using a large dripper.
In general, both AeroPress and pour-over offer single-serve capacity. However, pour-over is the best option for serving coffee to larger groups.
Brew Time For AeroPress
Using the original recipe, AeroPress will brew coffee in under a minute. That’s because the combination of pressure and finer grounds leads to an easier extraction using proper agitation.
As we’ve already mentioned, AeroPress is an incredibly versatile coffee maker. For example, you can even steep the coffee for 18 hours for cold brew. Alternatively, you can steep the coffee for four to eight minutes for French press using coarser coffee grounds. One of the big advantages of AeroPress is that you can experiment, and we encourage you to do so with different brew times.
Brew Time For Pour-Over
The brewing time is a crucial aspect of great pour-over coffee. If you brew it too quickly, your beverage will be under-extracted and have a sour taste. However, if you brew for too long, it will be over-extracted with a bitter flavor. Some drippers offer more room for error than others, including the Kalita Wave. Conversely, others, including the Hario V60, are more sensitive.
With ground coffee, a cup, a kettle, and paper filters, both AeroPress and pour-over are great options for enjoying great coffee when you travel.
The AeroPress is extremely compact and portable. Meanwhile, the AeroPress Go is even smaller. Both coffee makers are hard-wearing and lightweight, making them popular choices for travelers. Also, you can make coffee with room temperature water, so AeroPress is a great option if you don’t have a heat source.
Pour-over drippers are usually compact and portable, too. However, we recommend choosing plastic or a stainless steel model rather than a ceramic or glass one if you travel often. Also, you can only brew coffee using hot water with a pour-over device.
Ease Of Cleaning
Cleaning an AeroPress is straightforward. By taking off the cap and pushing the plunger, the coffee puck will come out. Then, you just need to rinse the parts in water, and it’s ready to use again.
Pour-over is easier still. Just throw out the paper filter and coffee, then rinse the dripper. One exception is Chemex, which is trickier to clean as thoroughly because it is a one-piece hourglass design. Indeed, for a deep clean, you may need a long-handled cleaning sponge.
Overall, both options are mess-free and easy to maintain.
Both AeroPress and pour-over are relatively inexpensive, so you can brew excellent coffee without spending much money.
As well as being inexpensive, the AeroPress of also versatile and extremely portable, so it’s no surprise its popularity grew so rapidly after entering the market.
In contrast, there are many different price points for pour-over brewers. For example, cheaper options, including the plastic Melitta or Hario V60, cost between $10 and $20. However, the beautiful handblown Chemex can cost over $100. So, your budget will determine which model you choose.
Our Verdict – Which One Should You Choose?
As this article has detailed, there are several advantages to both AeroPress and pour-over brewers. For example, they needn’t cost much money, are portable, and are relatively easy to use and maintain. However, there are some distinct advantages to AeroPress over a pour-over brewer and vice-versa.
If you’re an inexperienced domestic brewer and don’t need to make large batches of coffee, the AeroPress is your best option. Meanwhile, it is also one of the most versatile brewers on the market, allowing you to experiment with many different recipes and brewing methods.
However, suppose you enjoy the idea of learning your coffee-making craft. In that case, a pour-over brewer is a great option because you’ll need to perfect several aspects of the brewing process, including time and temperature.
Also, if you regularly brew for groups of people, pour-over is undoubtedly the better option as it brews far larger batches. Finally, despite not being as versatile as AeroPress, pour-over drippers are excellent at preserving the characteristics and flavor profiles of the beans.
Ultimately, whichever option you choose, we’re confident you’ll discover that each can brew beautiful coffee inexpensively.