Pour Over vs Drip Coffee: What is the difference?

Coffee enthusiasts love to debate which brewing method is the best. It seems like there is a new method developed every day. These include drip coffee, French press, AeroPress, vacuum pot, siphon pot, and cold brew, to name a few.

Two of the most popular methods are pour over and drip coffee. These are the two that we will be comparing today.

My first foray into the world of manual coffee brewing was when my friend brewed me a pour over. I was amazed by the crisp flavors. It was so much better than the coffee I was used to drinking from a drip coffee maker.

That didn’t immediately stop me from using my drip coffee maker, but it persuaded me to start diving deeper into the world of manual coffee brewing.

So, what could have persuaded me to forgo the ease of use that my drip coffee maker offers? Let’s take a closer look at the two brewing methods and find out. In pour over vs drip coffee, was there a clear winner?


Pour Over vs Drip Coffee

What is pour over coffee, and how is it made

If you’ve ever been to a specialty coffee shop, you’ve probably seen pour over coffee on the menu. But what exactly is it? Pour over coffee is a manual brewing method where hot water is slowly poured over ground coffee beans by hand.

When making drip coffee, you need a few things: a pour over device, a gooseneck kettle, freshly ground coffee beans, and filtered water. The best pour over device is up for debate, but everyone can agree that the key factors that control a good pour over are grind size, water temperature, and the speed of your pour.

The grind size is crucial because it determines how much surface area the water comes in contact with. A finer grind will have more surface area, while a coarser grind will have less. If you grind your beans too finely, you will over-extract your coffee, and it will taste bitter. If you use a grind that is too coarse, your coffee will under-extract and taste weak.

The water temperature is essential because it determines how much of the coffee’s flavor is extracted. The ideal water temperature for pour over coffee is around 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. If your water is too hot, you will over-extract your coffee and taste bitter. If your water is too cold, your coffee will under-extract and taste weak and sour.

The speed of your pour is also important. If you pour too slowly, the water will just run through the grounds and not extract all of the flavors. If you pour too quickly, the water will sit on top of the grounds and start to extract bitter flavors. The sweet spot is somewhere in between 2-3 minutes for a 16-ounce cup.


Pour Over vs Drip Coffee

What is drip coffee, and how is it made

Drip coffee is similar to pour over coffee in that it involves water using gravity to extract flavors from coffee beans. The main difference is that a machine does most of the work for you with drip coffee.

Drip coffee makers have a water tank that provides water that flows through a heating element and slowly releases over the coffee grinds into a filtered brew basket. The brewed coffee then drips into a carafe below. (Hence the name!) Simple!

Drip coffee makers come in all shapes and sizes, from small single-serve machines to large commercial brewers. They all work in basically the same way. The water seeps through the grounds, extracting all the delicious flavors and aromas.


The benefits of pour over coffee

When it comes to pour over coffee, I know that I’m in control of the entire process. From the grind size to the water temperature to the speed of my pour, I can make adjustments along the way to ensure that my coffee comes out precisely the way I want it.

I also find that pour over coffee tastes fresher than drip coffee. With drip coffee, there is no way to make minor adjustments to the brewing system. With pour over coffee, the water is only in contact with the grounds as long as you decide.

Another benefit of pour over coffee is that it’s more portable than a drip coffee maker. All you need is a pour over device, ground coffee, and hot water. This makes it perfect for traveling or camping.


The benefits of drip coffee

There is something to be said for having an automated device that is prepared to make your coffee at a moment’s notice. Just add water, ground coffee, and hit the brew button. That’s it! No need to worry about specific grind size, water temperature, or pour speed. The machine takes care of all of that for you.

Drip coffee makers are also very consistent. Once you find a brewing method that you like (coffee to water ratio, grind size, etc.), you can easily replicate it time after time with slight variation. This is great if you’re looking for a consistently delicious cup of coffee.


The downside to pour over coffee

Pour over coffee is easier to mess up. And, when it goes wrong, you have nobody to blame but yourself!

Since you are in control of the entire brewing process, it is very easy to make a mistake that will ruin your coffee. For instance, if you use too much coffee or grind the beans too finely, your coffee will be bitter. If you use too little coffee or grind the beans too coarsely, your coffee will be weak and watery.

I know that I have made mistakes while brewing pour over coffee. And, trust me, those mistake cups of coffee were not enjoyable to drink! But with those mistakes came lessons on how to brew the perfect cup of coffee. So, in a way, I’m thankful for those mistake cups of coffee.


The downside of auto-drip coffee makers

Brewing coffee in drip coffee machines is reliable, but you also don’t have the ability to modify the brewing process. A typical electric drip coffee maker has, at most, a brew-strength option.

You can adjust your coffee bean grind size to attempt to draw out some more flavors, but if the machine isn’t designed to hold a finer grind, your coffee will likely come out worse than using a standard drip coffee grind size (medium grind).

Additionally, since you are relying on an automated machine, you may not get the same great cup of coffee every time. This is because each individual drip coffee maker is slightly different, and those variations can affect the quality of your brew.


Best Gooseneck Kettle

Side-by-side comparison

Let’s break down and compare some of the specific differences and similarities between these two ways to brew coffee:

Coffee Brew Time

Pour over coffee generally takes about 3-4 minutes to brew, while drip coffee can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes for a full pot. So, if you’re looking for a quick cup of coffee, pour over is the way to go.

Coffee Grounds Grind Size

The grind size for pour over coffee is typically finer than the grind size for drip coffee. This is because the water contact time is shorter with pour over coffee, and a finer grind will extract more flavor in a shorter amount of time.

Coffee Flavor

Pour over coffee often tastes fresher and brighter than drip coffee. This is because the water only has contact with the grounds for a short and more controlled period of time. Drip coffee can sometimes taste bitter or flat because the temperature may not be consistent, or the water may have contact with the grounds for too long.

Coffee Cost

Pour over coffee is generally more expensive than drip coffee because it often requires higher quality coffee beans and a more expensive pour over devices (like a nice gooseneck kettle). However, the price difference is not always significant.

Coffee filters

Both coffee brewing methods use paper filters. The type of filter you use will affect the taste of your coffee, so experiment with different types to see what you like best. Electric drip coffee makers generally use a thin flat bottom-shaped filter, while pour over coffee makers usually use a slightly thicker cone-shaped filter and coffee grounds.

Water temperature

Drip coffee brewing temperature is around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, while pour over coffee is anywhere between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. The water temperature for pour over varies depending on the roast level and other factors that need to be considered for freshly brewed coffee.


pour over coffee

Pour over vs drip coffee maker: which is better?

It really depends on what you’re looking for in a cup of coffee. If you want a quick and easy cup of coffee with little room for error, drip coffee is the way to go. If you’re willing to take the time to make a cup of coffee and want more control over the flavor, pour over coffee is definitely worth learning how to make.

At the end of the day, both methods produce a delicious cup of coffee. So, why not try and see which one you like best?


Frequently Asked Question

Is pour over coffee better than drip?

There is no simple answer to this question. Pour over coffee often tastes fresher and brighter than drip coffee, but it also takes more time and effort to make. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Do you want a quick and easy cup of coffee, or are you willing to take the time to make a cup of coffee with more control over the flavor? Try both methods and see which one you like best.

What is the difference between pour over coffee and drip coffee?

Pour over coffee is made by pouring hot water over ground coffee beans, while drip coffee is made by dripping hot water through ground coffee beans in a filter. Additionally, the grind size for pour over coffee is typically finer than the grind size for drip coffee, and pour over coffee generally takes about 3-4 minutes to brew, while drip coffee can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Finally, pour over coffee often tastes fresher and brighter than drip coffee because the water only has contact with the grounds for a short and more controlled period of time.

How do I make pour over coffee?

There are a few simple steps to making pour over coffee. First, you’ll need to choose your coffee beans and grind them to medium-fine grind size. Next, place a filter in your pour over device and wet the filter with hot water (this will help remove any paper taste from the filter). Then, add your ground coffee to the filter and slowly pour hot water over the grounds, being careful to bloom the coffee (pre-wetting the grounds to help release trapped gases). Finally, continue pouring hot water until the desired amount of coffee has been brewed. Remember to experiment with different grind sizes.

What size coffee grounds should I use for pour over coffee brewing method?

The grind size for pour over coffee should be a medium-fine grind. If the grind is too coarse, the water will flow through the grounds too quickly, and the coffee will be under-extracted. If the grind is too fine, the water will have a hard time flowing through the grounds, and the coffee will be over-extracted.

What is the best pour over coffee maker?

There are a lot of great pour over coffee makers on the market. Some of our favorites include the Chemex, Hario V60, and Kalita Wave.

How long does it take to make pour over coffee?

Pour over coffee generally takes about 3-4 minutes to brew. However, this can vary depending on factors like grind size and amount of coffee being brewed.

What is the water to coffee ratio for pour over coffee?

The water to coffee ratio for pour over coffee is typically 1:16 (one part coffee to sixteen parts water). However, this can vary depending on personal preference.

What is the best temperature for pour over coffee?

The water temperature for pour over coffee should be between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

How do I make a good cup of drip coffee?

There are a few simple steps to making a good cup of drip coffee:
You’ll need to choose your coffee beans and grind them to a medium-fine grind size.
Place a filter in your automatic drip coffee maker. Electric coffee makers typically have a water reservoir, so be sure to fill it up with cold water.
Add your ground coffee to the filter and start the brewing cycle. Depending on your coffee maker, the brewing cycle can take 5-10 minutes. 
Finally, remove the carafe from the warming plate to avoid overheating the coffee once the coffee is finished brewing. Remember to experiment with different grind sizes.

What size coffee grounds should I use for drip coffee?

The grind size for drip coffee should be a medium grind. If the grind is too coarse, the water will flow through the grounds too quickly, and the coffee will be under-extracted. If the grind is too fine, the water will have a hard time flowing through the grounds, and the coffee will be over-extracted.

What is the best drip coffee maker?

There are a lot of great drip coffee makers on the market. Some of our favorites include the Cuisinart DCC-3200, the Ninja Coffee Bar Brewer System, and the Technivorm Moccamaster.

How long does it take to make drip coffee?

Drip coffee can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes to brew. However, this can vary depending on grind size and the amount of delicious coffee brewed.

What is the water to coffee ratio for drip coffee?

The water to coffee ratio for drip coffee is typically 1:16 (one part coffee to sixteen parts water). However, this can vary depending on your device.

Kris Silvey

I've been drinking coffee my entire life, from a little boy stealing coffee off the counter to an adult (who still steals his wife's coffee occasionally). I'm passionate about exploring the world of coffee and finding another great roast to experience.