Drip Coffee Vs. Pour Over – What Is The Difference?

We review and suggest products independently, but if you buy a product via the links in our posts, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

Do auto drip coffee makers simply make the pour-over coffee automatically? Is drip coffee the same as pour-over? If you have these questions, you are in the right place.

This brewing guide will explain each of these most popular brewing methods and compare them side by side, so you’ll know exactly what’s the difference between them.

By understanding how they can affect the flavor and quality of your java, you’ll be able to make an informed decision in the debate of drip coffee vs. pour-over. 

What is Drip Coffee?

Drip coffee usually refers to a cup of coffee that you get from an automatic drip coffee machine. Gottlob Widmann invented the first machine of its kind in 1954.[1] This German invention, called the Wigomat, replaced the previous coffee method, a percolator known as the Moka Pot. The other method that people were using was the pour-over method. 

The primary reason people prefer regular drip coffee is the ease of use and efficiency. Disposable filters became a game-changer because they allowed coffee drinkers to make more coffee in a shorter amount of time.

Electric drip coffee makers only require the user to fill it with water and add coffee grounds into the filter. Thus, this machine was ideal for people on the go, working a standard eight-hour job. 

What is Pour Over Coffee?

Pour-over coffee is made utilizing a brewer or dripper that sits upon the cup or carafe with a paper filter inside. It’s one of the most popular manual coffee brewing methods for home baristas.

pour-over-coffee

Coffee grounds are measured and set into the filter. Next, you slowly pour hot water over the grounds, allowing the flavors to be extracted. The pour-over process offers complete control over the brewing technique. You dictate how saturated you want the coffee grounds thus obtaining the best tasting coffee.

Melitta Bentz invented the paper filter in 1908 [2], which spearheaded the creation of more advanced coffee machines. Before 1908, a typical cup of coffee ran the risk of being contaminated with coffee grounds.

People who love a more technical experience with their coffee – especially those who prefer their brew black – favor the pour-over method. The flavors extracted are typically more robust and intricate, many coffee lovers choose pour-over to enjoy the premium specialty coffee beans. You may also see a professional barista making pour over coffee in your local specialty coffee shop.

Difference Between Pour-Over and Drip Coffee

There are fundamental differences between a cup of coffee from the drip machine and the product produced utilizing the pour-over method. 

Coffee Equipment

Pour Over:

You need a dripper, a kettle, and a filter for the pour-over brewing method. The kettle is to boil the hot water, the filter holds the ground coffee, and the dripper sits on top of the cup/carafe. Pour-over coffee brewers come in various sizes and shapes, so it’s crucial to pick the best style. The most popular pour-over coffee makers are the Chemex and the Hario V60. 

pour-over-coffee-makers

Regarding the kettle, there are advantages to the various options. For example, the gooseneck kettle gives you more control while pouring. This method of making coffee is better with a thermometer and a scale for optimal temperature control, and an accurate brew ratio for water to coffee grounds. If you have more budget, you can buy a variable temperature electric kettle that gives you a more precise water temperature.

Drip Coffee:

With the drip coffee method, you need your conventional drip coffee maker, which comes in many different styles and sizes. Some use paper filters, and some use a reusable metal filter basket, some drip coffee makers have grinders built-in for the fresh coffee grounds, and so on. 

drip coffee

Some drip coffee machines brew one cup at a time and are portable, and others brew many cups. Some of the most convenient drip coffee makers come with various functions for temperature control, a hot plate, automatic shutoff, and more. 

Ease of Brewing

The pour-over method is more challenging to grasp, as you have to develop the right pouring technique that yields the best barista-quality brew. There are no automatic functions to assist you. Thus there is a bit of a learning curve in the beginning. Here is our V60 brewing guide so you can know more tricks about pour-over brewing.

The drip coffee machine is much easier to use because everything is automatic. You press buttons to select the coffee strength you want, the cup size you’re filling up, and any other special features. Some even come with a grinder so you can grind your beans. Anyone from a beginner to an intermediate level can use the electric drip pots. 

Brewing Process

How to brew pour-over coffee:

Brewing coffee with a pour over dripper is an entirely manual process. First, heat the water to the optimal temperature, around 195 F to 205F. Then, measure, grind, and place coffee filter and coffee grounds in a dripper. Next, take the dripper and place it over a carafe or a coffee mug. You can find many pour-over stands that have these pieces. What’s more, there are even devices such as one-piece Chemex made to accommodate the pour-over process.

The brewing process is a lot more involved than that of drip coffee brewing, and this is because you are in complete control of the coffee extraction process. The pour-over coffee method utilizes timed pouring intervals to achieve a balanced flavor extraction. Once you’ve poured a particular amount of water in a circular motion for a second or two, the grounds will begin to rise and bloom. This process releases the flavor and gasses inside the coffee grounds. After blooming, continue to pour water until you get your desired amount of coffee. 

how-to-make-pour-over

How to brew drip coffee:

For starters, you brew the drip coffee via the machine, and it takes cold and filtered water from a water reservoir and uses the heating element heats the water, and then the water moves through the coffee maker and reaches the shower head. Afterward, the hot water filters through the coffee grounds.

At this point, the freshly brewed coffee travels through the filter into the carafe. After it’s done brewing completely, you will have a delightful pot of black coffee.

how-to-make-drip-coffee

Coffee Quality

Honestly, the best brewers on the market can make a cup of drip coffee that is just as good as pour-over coffee; however, if you are not willing to spend hundreds of dollars, then pour-over coffee will do. In general, pour-over cones are cheap and make for an inexpensive way to get a flavorful cup of coffee.

The quality of the finished brew depends on your skills, but you will have the ideal brew consistently once you’ve mastered it. When it comes to drip coffee, SCA-certified brewers make coffee following the SCA’s golden cup requirements, such as optimal temperature, ratio, and bloom. As a result, they make a better cup of coffee than the typical cheap drip coffee machines. The machine will be consistent but without the control of pour-over coffee.

No matter which brew method you choose, freshly ground coffee is suggested for delicious coffee.

Brew Time

Pour over: 2-3 mintues per cup

This method typically takes two to three minutes. The brew time can be experimented with by controlling the water flow and pour speed. However, this doesn’t include the time to heat the water and grind the coffee. Pour-over may take a bit longer to make one cup of coffee, but it will be worth the extra bit of time—thanks to the higher quality of coffee.

Drip Coffee: 6-10 minutes per coffee pot

This method usually takes about four to ten minutes to brew a pot of coffee that has about 10-12 cups in it. It takes a little time to heat the water. There are many conveniences in making 10-12 cups of coffee in such a relatively short time. 

Grind Size

medium-grind-size

Depending on your beans, both methods use a medium to medium coarse.

The most common size for pre-ground beans is a medium grind. It has a texture like a smoother version of sand. This grind is ideal for siphon brewers and drip coffee makers.

With medium-fine beans, they have a slightly smoother texture than sand. Medium-fine beans are the kind of coffee ground that’s ideal for cone-shaped pour-overs.

If you have lightly roasted beans, these work well with a cone-shaped filter. Look for a slightly coarser and finer grind size for a darker roast coffee. Also, use a flat-bottom filter.

Brewing Capacity

Use the pour-over coffee method for either single-serve or two to four cups of coffee. Moreover, the largest V60 03 dripper can make six cups of coffee. On the other hand, Chemex has a larger model that can make up to 13 cups. With that said, the version that makes eight cups is more popular. An ideal coffee to water ratio is 1:15 to 1:18.

Most drip coffee pots will make more than six cups, while some models may produce 10 to 12 cups. A large pot will suffice if you have company over for coffee.

coffee-pot-capacity

Budget

Most pour-over brewers are budget-friendly. Of course, the price ultimately depends on the brands and materials. For example, plastic will be the cheapest, while metal, glass, or ceramic materials will be more expensive. You will also have to consider the cost of the grinder, kettle, and scale. Overall, a manual coffee brewing method such as pour over, french press coffee or cold brew won’t cost you a lot for a delicious cup of joe.

An electric drip coffee maker can range from $50 to $400; it depends on its features and functions. Grind and brew coffee makers, and SCA-certified brewers are more expensive.

Caffeine in Pour Over and Drip Coffee

The brewing process affects the caffeine content of the coffee. In addition, the number of ground coffee, the water temperature, and the type of bean are all factors that affect caffeine content.

Since both pour-over and drip coffee are filter coffee brewing methods, they also use similar grind sizes and brew temperatures. So if you use the same coffee beans, the caffeine in both brew methods is similar. 

Both pour-over and drip coffee have about 70 to 140 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup. [3]

They can do the job when you need a boost in the morning. It’s recommended to drink less than 3 cups to meet the max daily caffeine intake suggested by FDA. 

Pour Over Vs Drip Coffee – Is Pour-Over Coffee Better?

Ultimately, pour-over is better if you want an overall higher quality, more flavorful coffee flavor. If you don’t mind the learning process in exchange for a perfect cup of coffee that you controlled from start to finish, then old-school wins out here. 

If you’re busy and you enjoy the efficiency of electric coffee makers, which do pretty much everything for you without much effort, stick with the drip method. 

References:

[1] Wigomat – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wigomat

[2] Overlooked No More: Melitta Bentz, Who Invented the Coffee Filter – https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/05/obituaries/melitta-bentz-overlooked.html

[3] How Much Caffeine Is in a Cup of Coffee? – https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-caffeine-in-coffee