The search for the best filter coffee machine and/or pour over coffee maker is over. If you want to make coffee using just ground beans, water and gravity, you've come to the right place.
There are several ways to create a cup of rich black gold, and some are better than others. You could do it the Italian way and buy a manual espresso machine or perhaps a capsule espresso machine if you’re lazy or haven't a clue how to make espresso. Or you could use one of those French Press cafetières from Bodum, Melitta or Bialetti and slowly push down on a plunger until the fine mesh has forced the coffee grounds to the bottom of the cafetière (just don’t drink the last inch of brew unless you like ingesting mud). Or you could go down the 1970s route and opt for a percolator which continually cycles hot, brewed – or rather stewed – water through the coffee grounds to create a mostly sour tasting brew reminiscent of breakfast coffee at a cheap Costa Del Sol hotel.
Alternatively you could use the most basic method of all and simply pour hot water over a few spoonfuls of ground coffee held in a funnel lined with blotting-type paper. And that, dear readers, is precisely what this page is dedicated to.
- The best coffee maker… of every type
What is pour over coffee?
‘Pour over’ (or filtered, as it used to be known) is far and away the easiest way to make a cup of coffee since all you really need is a plastic funnel, a cone-shaped paper filter, a mug and three or more spoonfuls of coarsely ground fresh coffee. Once set up, it’s simply a case of slowly pouring nearly-boiled water (around 93˚) over the grounds until the cup is full.
To some degree, the term ‘pour over’ can also apply to filter coffee machines which perform a similar function automatically while you read the morning newspaper or fire off some insults on Facebook and YouTube.
How to make your own pour over cuppa
If you really want to be pedantic about it, have a look at some of the over the top videos on YouTube for hints on how best to make a cup of filtered pour-over coffee. It’s not rocket science, it has to be said, but there are two points that are especially worth considering.
The first thing to do is remove any manufacturing impurities in the paper filter by running a good dose of hot water through it. Crucially, this will also heat the cup up below so the temperature of the final brew isn’t affected.
The second, and most important point, is to use enough course ground coffee so it doesn’t look and taste like dishwater. For a single mug, use about three tablespoons – or two standard coffee scoops – of a course ground blend to ensure full-bodied flavour (fresh coffee from a good quality grinder is best). Aside from major natural disasters, there really is nothing worse than a weak cup of coffee that you can almost see through. In fact, you’d be better off over-egging it because you can always add extra water to soften the blow.
There, now you know the very basics of making your own pour over brew, have a dip into our carefully curated list of pour-over devices and take your pick of the best brewers.
What is the best pour over/filter coffee device?
If you simply want a no-frills pour-over system that doesn’t cost a packet, then consider the classic Melitta Porcelain Pour Over Set (or just buy a cheap plastic Melitta funnel and bung it on top of a mug). For easy machine-based filter coffee, you can’t go wrong with the KitchenAid Drip Coffee Maker 5KCM1208. But for pure automated glory, nothing on this page beats the Sage Precision Brewer Thermal, which is capable of making both hot and cold brew coffee with almost zero interference. Purists, however, will almost certainly make a bee line for the pricy but pretty Hario V60 all-copper filter which is said to be the bee’s knees of pour over coffee brewing devices.
The best pour over and automatic filter coffee makers in order
This metallic brewer is a veritable one-stop coffee shop. With its six automatic brewing modes, it’s just the ticket for those who love barista-style filter coffee but haven’t a clue how to make it.
Being of Sage origin, it’s a doddle to operate and comes pre-armed with a choice of six brews: Fast, Gold, Strong, Over Ice, My Brew and Cold Brew. ‘Fast’ is good for a quick single cup, ‘Gold’ gets its name from the Speciality Coffee Association’s Golden Cup Standard which requires water at a temperature of ‘between 200˚F (93˚C) and 205˚ (96˚C) at the point of contact with the coffee’, ‘Strong’ is, as the moniker suggests, strong, while ‘Over Ice’ is the setting to use if you plan to pour your coffee over some ice (another story altogether). Amazingly, the Sage will also produce a cold brew, which usually requires a completely different set of equipment.
If none of these presets suit your palette, you can select the ‘My Brew’ function and adjust ‘Bloom Time’ (the moment coffee grounds bubble up when first infused), ‘Brew Time’ and ‘Flow Rate’. Is there anything this coffee machine doesn’t do? Yes, it doesn’t make tea.
If you’re in the market for a high-end machine that delivers consistent results time after time and with zero faff, then this is clearly the brewing device for you.
This is the most basic pour over method of all: a funnel, a filter and a mug. Melitta’s been at the forefront of coffee filtering for decades (since 1908 if you really must know) and most of us probably still have one of its plastic filter cones knocking about in a cupboard somewhere, probably covered in a thin film of kitchen grease.
This porcelain set is pretty much all you need to make a very decent pour-over brew. Simply pop a Melitta paper filter cone into the funnel section, pour hot water through it to warm the ceramic filter holder and then fill the filter with a few heaped teaspoons of your favourite coarsely ground blend. Now slowly pour nearly boiled water (about 93˚C) over the grounds to produce a smooth, rich, aromatic kick up the rear.
You don’t have to use the jug if you don’t want to because the filter holder can also straddle two cups at once. To prevent overfilling, viewing slots on either side of the holder allow you to keep tabs on coffee levels.
Available in four colours – grey, blue, rose and yellow – the Melitta Pour Over Set is ostensibly just a fancy pants alternative to a plastic funnel and a mug, but it looks a darn sight better on the table.
The hands-free KitchenAid has a large 1.7 litre reservoir and that means it’ll make enough coffee for a small battalion. You won’t need to buy any paper filters either because it comes with its own ‘gold-tone’ permanent filter that only requires a quick wash and rinse after each use.
KitchenAid has designed this 12-cup coffee maker to be extra simple to use. Hence, the water reservoir has a series of numbers etched on the side that correspond to a dosage ladder in the filter. Simply fill the water tank to your preferred level and scoop a corresponding amount of ground coffee into the filter. Now hit the power button and retreat for a few minutes while its 29-hole spiral shower head gently dousers the coffee. A programmable warming plate keeps it warm for up to 30 minutes but you can change the timescale in settings.
This machine is about 18cm in width so it’s a perfect size for any kitchen worktop. At around £100, it’s reasonably priced too, at least by the standards of KitchenAid products.
It’s hardly the most the most groundbreaking invention in the history of humankind, but Amalie Auguste Melitta Bentz’s first filter system – using a piece of blotting paper from her son’s exercise book – remains pretty much unchanged since its inception way back in the Black & White days of 1908. One of her middle names is now synonymous with one of the most successful coffee-based product manufacturers on the planet.
The 10-cup AromaFresh isn’t as comprehensive as the Sage Precision – it has just three simple settings, from weak to strong – but it does have one ace up its sleeve in the form of a built-in, top-mounted coffee grinder. To use, just load some beans into the hopper, fill the large 1.375-litre reservoir with water, swing out the filter holder and pop in a Melitta paper filter. Now select the amount of cups you want and the strength of brew, and hit go. Like your average bean-to-cup machine, the beans are ground (quite quietly as it happens) and deposited into the filter holder in readiness for a good dousing.
Granted, the interface is rather fiddly and the brewing process is nowhere near as finely automated as the Sage, but the coffee it deposits is certainly worth the rigmarole. It’s very keenly priced, too.
If you want to be really pedantic (or pretentious) and adopt the hipster method of pour over brewing, get yourself a Hario product; it’s the brand of choice among baristas and coffee-craft trendies.
Named after the 60-degree angle of its funnel, this Japanese beauty costs £65. That might seem a lot for, essentially, a big funnel, but its devotees swear by it. There’s not much point in going into the ins and outs of how it works because the brewing process is no different a technique to using a standard plastic Melitta filter holder. However, the main difference with this filter holder is that it’s made from copper – and copper is a superb thermal conductor that helps the water maintain an even temperature throughout the filtering process.
If you really want to impress or bore your guests, we’d suggest splashing out another £140 on the matching V60 Copper Kettle with obligatory goose neck for perfect splash-free pouring. You may not have a clue what you’re doing but you can always pretend you do. Hario also makes versions of the V60 in plastic, glass and metals other than copper.
Here’s one for the Smegeratti and it’s a sight to behold. The ’50s-style DCF02 is available in seven colours – including pastel blue, deep red and pitch black – and comes with a 1.4-litre water container (good for up to 10 cups), a reusable filter, a 1-4 cup function, auto start, timer and aroma intensity selector.
Changing the settings is quite a convoluted process that involves flicking a mechanical lever on the side and trying to work out what the tiny display’s various text abbreviations mean, but you should soon get a handle on it after a bit a manual swottage.
While not the most simple machine on the worktop, the Smeg nevertheless produces an excellent brew that, according to its disciples, is both rich and aromatic. And, of course, it looks rather ravishing too.