Pour-over brewing is arguably the best method for bringing out the nuanced flavor notes in coffee, but not everybody has the training (or the time) to do it right.
An automatic pour-over brewer lets you unlock the flavor potential of your beans quickly and easily—no barista required.
If you’re looking to upgrade your auto-drip machine, one of the models below could very well be your new favorite brewer.
The OXO Brew replicates the manual pour-over method with a microprocessor that pulses the water through the rainmaker showerhead. Its heating element reaches a consistent brew temperature within the ideal range specified by the SCA’s Golden Cup standards.
The thermal carafe included with the brewer keeps that coffee hot and fresh until you’re ready to drink it.
Along with exceptional coffee flavor, the OXO Brew is remarkably easy to use, with one-dial operation and a clear LED screen. The dial controls both the number of cups and the programmable wake-up timer, which you can set up to 24 hours in advance.t
The Moccamaster is the ideal automatic pour-over brewer for entertaining. It brews an entire 10-cup pot in just 6 minutes—much faster and easier than manual methods. Separate heating elements for the brewer and warmer ensure coffee brews at an ideal 196°-205°F, with adjustable temperature controls for the hot plate to keep the coffee hot without burning it.
That fast brewing time doesn’t affect the coffee’s flavor, either. The 9-hole water outlet arm dispenses the water evenly over the grounds, with the same pulsed pour used in manual brewing. Clear scale markings on the water reservoir let you easily get the ideal coffee-to-water ratio for your tastes.
The Bonavita Connoisseur is certified by the SCA as a Golden Cup Standard brewer, with a powerful thermostat-controlled 1500-watt heating element, enhanced showerhead, and hanging filter basket for even saturation and extraction. Its pre-infusion mode blooms the coffee just like a barista would, unlocking the full flavor potential of your beans.
One-touch controls and a warming plate with automatic shutoff make this a convenient choice, too. You might not even need the keep-warm function, considering the included thermal carafe does a great job keeping coffee hot all on its own. When you’re done, the basket and carafe lid are dishwasher safe for easy clean-up.
If you want a bit more control to customize your brew, the Breville Precision Brewer is a great choice. You can adjust every aspect of the brewing process, from the length of pre-infusion to the temperature and flow of the water. Since you can use it with either flat or cone-shaped filters, it gives the same great flavor for small batches as for full carafes.
The Breville Precision Brewer is more versatile than other automatic pour-over machines, as well. Among its 6 brewing presets are settings for iced coffee and cold brew. You can even substitute your favorite pour-over dripper for the brew basket thanks to the included drip adapter.
The Shine Kitchen Coffee Machine is our favorite automatic pour-over dripper for small-batch brewing. Its precisely calibrated circular pouring method effectively mimics a barista’s technique. Pre-measured fill lines on the reservoir and filter basket take the guesswork out of getting the right coffee-to-water ratio, letting anyone brew pour-over to professional standards.
Versatility is another strength of the Shine Kitchen Coffee Machine. It doesn’t take up much room on the counter and runs on batteries instead of AC power. That makes it perfect for RVs, offices, dorm rooms, and anywhere else space and outlets are at a premium.
The unique design of the Soulhand Coffee Maker fits beautifully in any modern kitchen—and we mean any. This 1-2 cup brewer has a compact, streamlined design that’s made for convenience, with fast one-button brewing, a removable water reservoir, and a permanent steel mesh filter. From prep to clean-up, every step is easy with the Soulhand Coffee Maker.
The Soulhand Coffee Maker doesn’t sacrifice drink quality for convenience, either. It brews at an average temperature of 199°F and the distributor nozzle uses a smart intermittent flow that maximizes flavor extraction without adding to the brew time.
The Gourmia Digital Touch Pour-Over Coffee Maker is a great choice for those looking to perfect their pour-over technique. It’s not a hands-free automatic brewer like other models. Instead, it’s a smart pour-over system with a built-in scale for measuring the coffee and water during brewing, helping you achieve your perfect brew.
This is a great option for travelers, too, since it’s both compact and battery operated. Keep in mind you will need some way to heat the water (ideally a goose-neck kettle, if you’re going for maximum brew quality).
The KitchenAid Pour Over brewer might look like a standard auto-drip machine but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Its pulsed brewing and precise temperature control meet SCAA Gold Cup standards, with a fully-enclosed filter basket to prevent heat loss.
This is a great option if you’re looking for hands-free convenience. Its programmable auto-start lets you wake up to fresh-brewed coffee, with a one-touch strength adjustment so you can match the flavor to your tastes.
The Brim Pour Over Coffee Maker is another top choice for entertaining. It mimics the design of brewers like the Chemex, integrating the filter into the carafe instead of the brewer. The silicone sleeve stays cool during brewing—just take out the filter and you can serve straight from the carafe. If you’re not quite ready to drink it, the built-in hot plate keeps the coffee at a precise 176°F, with a 30-minute automatic shutoff to prevent burning and energy waste.
You’ll get a stainless steel filter included with the Brim Pour Over Coffee Maker, so you won’t need to buy paper filters. This gives coffee a bolder taste and fuller body, especially since it brews at a precise 197°-205°F. The pulsed brewing and pre-infusion bloom bring out all the subtle flavor notes from the beans for a rich, delicious cup every time.
Pour-over coffee first dates back to the turn of the 20th century. At this time, the percolator was the most common way to brew coffee at home. French presses existed, too, but drip machines and Moka pots hadn’t yet been invented, and the pump-driven espresso machine was still a novel device only found in coffee houses.
The modern pour-over was invented in Germany by Amalie Auguste Melitta Bentz. She was tired of the bitter taste and sediment that came along with percolator brewing and wanted a better way to brew coffee in her house. The pour-over dripper was her solution.
At the heart of her invention was the first paper coffee filter. Filters existed in the 1800s but they were typically made of cloth and meant to be reused. Melitta took a page of blotting paper from her son’s school books and used it to line a can she’d punctured with a nail. The result was the smooth, grounds-free coffee we now know as pour-over.
The emergence of disposable paper filters revolutionized the home coffee brewing industry, ultimately leading to the invention of the automatic drip machine—the most common method for making coffee at home today.
Along with these spin-off brewing methods, coffee connoisseurs of the 20th century refined the pour-over method. The Japanese ran with it first, with Hario releasing the first stand-alone V60 drippers in the 1920s. In the 1940s, chemist Peter Schlumbohm invented the Chemex, using his knowledge of the flavor compounds and extraction of coffee to create thicker filters that captured more of the bitter oils and fine sediment.
Pour-over brewing faded in popularity in the second half of the 20th century. The convenience and novelty of automatic drip brewers led them to take over the home coffee market during the 1960s. Large batch brewers were popular in cafes, too, since they could produce large volumes of coffee quickly. For more customized specialty drinks, second-wave coffee shops of the ‘80s relied on espresso machines over manual brewing methods.
That all changed with the start of the “third wave” in the late 1990s. The emphasis on high-quality single-origin beans led to a need for more subtle brewing methods that gave baristas more control over the process than automatic drip machines. Thus the café Slow Bar was born, bringing methods like pour-over, Chemex, and French press back in vogue.
Pour-over brewing is ideal for those who appreciate coffee as a craft rather than a functional caffeine-delivery system. The added time and effort are part of the appeal, forcing the brewer and the drinker to slow down and focus on the details. It also allows the barista to bring out specific notes, creating a cup with better balance and a more complex flavor profile.
The process of using an automatic pour-over machine is nearly identical to the prep stage for drip: grind the coffee to medium, measure out your water, and press the start button.
Manual pour-over is a more intricate process, and it has a certain mystique for the uninitiated as being a particularly “difficult” brewing method. It’s more about getting a feel for the timing than anything, though, and isn’t actually that hard to do once you’ve had some practice. Here are the basic steps to getting the perfect cup of pour-over:
350 grams is equivalent to roughly 12 ounces, which is the typical quantity in a Starbucks Tall. This is the minimum batch size that’s recommended for pour-over, but you can make larger batches using the same ratio of 22 grams of coffee for every 350 grams (12 ounces) of water.
The length of a pour-over brew is directly linked to how much water you’re using, so you’ll end up with a longer brew time for larger batches, too. While you can increase the water volume per pour slightly for larger batches, there’s an upper limit on how much water a pour-over dripper can hold.
Something else you probably noticed is that we didn’t give a specific grind size for the beans. While you do want to stay within the medium range, that’s another parameter that you can adjust to change how quickly the coffee brews and the strength of the resulting cup.
Pour-over and drip come from the same family of brewing methods. Both use filters to strain out unwanted sediment or flavors, and rely primarily on gravity and grind size to determine the grind contact time and the length of the brew.
Like pour-over, drip brewing was invented in Germany. Inventor Gottlob Widmann released the first electric drip machine, the Wigomat, in 1954. Companies in the United States quickly followed suit. By the start of the 1970s, auto-drip brewers were the standard in American homes.
Why are automatic drip machines so popular—and why is the pour-over method more highly-regarded by coffee experts? It comes down to a question of control vs. convenience. Let’s take a look at how these methods compare side-by-side.
Some of the flavor compounds in coffee will only extract at temperatures of 195°F and above; others will burn or degrade at temperatures of 210° or higher. That gives you a pretty narrow temperature range where you can extract the bean’s full flavor.
The heating elements in inexpensive drip brewers don’t have the control or power to consistently reach and stay in that range. Many never get hot enough, brewing at temperatures of 180°F or lower that give you a weak, under-extracted cup.
Manual pour-over brewing gives the barista full control of the water temperature, especially if you use an electric gooseneck kettle with thermostat control. Most automatic pour-over brewers also have customizable temperature control, and at least use sophisticated heating elements with PID controls.
Drip brewers don’t bloom the grounds before they start to dispense the water. While the shape of the filter changes how much time the water is in contact with the grounds, it’s going to be shorter with a drip brewer than a pour-over method.
In drip brewing, the water is heated first and then dispensed over the grounds in a steady flow. Pour-over uses a pulsed method, distributing the water over the surface of the coffee then allowing it to drip through before adding more. This also lengthens the overall brew time and results in a more thorough extraction of the flavor compounds.
You’ll find drip machines with adjustable parameters, but by and large the machine is in control of the brew. Manual methods like pour-over put that control in the barista’s hands from bean to cup—for better or worse.
In experienced hands, this allows you to optimize the process to the roast and the drinker’s preferences. That also means you can easily mess the whole thing up if you don’t know what you’re doing. Still, for a knowledgeable coffee-lover, that control is the main advantage of pour-over brewing.
An automatic machine will give you the exact same brew every time you use it. The more automated the process, the less risk of human error. This doesn’t automatically mean the coffee is good, but at the very least even a cheap auto-drip brewer will produce coffee that’s consistently bad in the same ways every time.
The consistency of a manual pour-over largely depends on the skill and experience level of the barista. A professional barista who makes pour-overs for customers every day is probably going to be fairly consistent, at least compared to a hobbyist who just makes it occasionally. That said, even the most skilled barista can’t match the consistency of a well-programmed machine.
Here’s one area where drip brewers are the clear winners. Auto-drip machines can make a full pot of coffee in 5-6 minutes. Commercial batch brewers can produce a gallon or more in about the same amount of time.
Pour-over brewing isn’t scalable in the same way as drip brewing. You should anticipate a brew time of about 1 minute per cup at all batch sizes. That makes it less appealing for serving large groups quickly.
Automatic drip brewers are completely hands-off. If the machine is programmable, you can even set it up the night before and have fresh coffee waiting for you when you wake up in the morning.
They also don’t require any extra accessories. They heat the water for you so you don’t need a kettle, and the scale markers on the carafe or reservoir spare you the need for a scale. The difference between fresh and pre-ground beans is less noticeable, so you can even do without a grinder.
Manual pour-over requires your full attention for the entire brew, as well as a slew of accessories to do the process right. Even with an automatic pour-over you’ll at least want a burr grinder to make sure you’re using fresh-ground beans that will bloom and brew like you want.
It can if you use the right machine. In some cases, it can taste better. It takes time to learn the proper technique for an exceptional pour-over brew, and beginners often make a few duds before they get it right. With an automatic pour-over machine, there’s no learning curve.
A good automatic pour-over machine should brew at a temperature between 195°F and 205°F with a pre-infusion bloom and a distributor arm that pulses water over the entire basket for full ground saturation. A machine that checks all these boxes will likely brew a cup of pour-over that’s just as delicious as what you could make with a manual dripper.
If you want to bring out the full flavor potential of the coffee beans then yes, it’s worth it to use the pour-over method. Partially this is because you’re able to control every aspect of the process. You can be absolutely sure the water temperature, brewing time, and water to coffee ratio are correct because you’re the one making those decisions.
This is what makes automatic pour-over drippers a good investment for those who want the best coffee flavor but also want convenience. These machines usually have precise temperature control and user-customizable brew parameters, along with a pulsed water release that mimics the manual method. In short, you get the pour-over taste without the effort or time commitment.
First of all, you want to use fresh, high-quality beans, ideally a single-origin or artisanal blend. Pour-over brewing brings out more subtle flavor notes than other methods. This is great if you’re starting with good beans, but can be disappointing if those notes are stale or over-roasted.
The fresher the beans, the more aromatics and volatile compounds they contain. Of particular note is carbon-dioxide (CO2), which is what drives the “bloom” phase of the brew. For the best pour-over, use the coffee beans within 2 weeks of their roasting date.
Most people prefer a light or medium roast on pour-over. Dark roasts can end up tasting burnt and bitter on this brewing method, with too many roasting notes in the flavor profile of the cup.
As to the particular variety or region, that’s mostly a matter of personal preference. If you like fruity, bright coffees, try an African bean like a Kenya or Ethiopia. Those who prefer more chocolate or caramel notes will find beans from Costa Rica, Colombia, or Brazil more suited to their tastes. Single-origin beans often list the flavor notes on the label, so you can use that to help guide your bean purchase.
There’s no one answer to this question. The grind size for pour-over is likely the most variable of all the brewing methods and depends on the style of filtration, the size and type of dripper, and your personal tastes.
As a general rule, Chemex brewers and Clever drippers do best with a medium-coarse grind. For stand-alone drippers with reusable steel filters, a medium grind is recommended, and cone-shaped V60 drippers with paper filters often use a medium-fine grind. Even these guidelines aren’t set in stone, however—using a medium-fine grind in a Chemex won’t ruin the brew, you’ll just get a slower brew time and a stronger cup of coffee.
Grind consistency is more important than the specific grind size. Coffee grounds of different sizes extract at different rates, so you’ll get an imbalanced brew if there are both coarse and fine particles in the basket. This is why it’s recommended to use a burr grinder rather than a blade grinder for pour-over.
If you’re not sure what specific grind level to use, start with a medium grind, similar to what you’d use for an automatic drip machine. From there, you can refine the grind level based on taste. If it tastes too weak or sour, it brewed too quickly and you should use a finer grind for your next brew. Conversely, if it’s bitter or too strong you can correct that by using a coarser grind.
The Last Coffee Grind Size Chart You’ll Ever Need
SCAA Best Practice | Guidelines for Brewing with a Two Cup Pour Over Brewer https://www.scaa.org/PDF/resources/best-practices-two-cup-pour-over-brewer.pdf
5 key differences between pour-over and drip coffee
Melitta, Chemex, more a history of pour over coffee – brewing