Is Drip Coffee The Same As Pour Over?

pour over vs drip coffee

by Matt Gibson

Both the pour over coffee brewing technique and the standard electric drip coffee maker produce coffee by pouring hot water over coffee grounds and straining the liquid out through a filter. However, the end result of each of these two brewing methods is very different. Drip coffee is typically done with very little involvement or input from you, while the pour over technique is a very hands-on way to make coffee, where the brewer is in control of many different elements of the brewing process, which allows for a much more customizable cup. 

Though the devices for drip coffee and pour over coffee are both rather inexpensive, they are two vastly different brewing techniques that produce distinctly different brews. Each brewing style has its advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we’ll break down the two styles, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each type of coffee brewing. Finally, we’ll pit the two styles against each other and 

What is Drip Coffee? 

Drip coffee is the ubiquitous “coffee maker” preparation method you’re likely most familiar with. It’s the standard coffee machine you’d find in a home or office. In fact, drip coffee systems are the most common and popular way to brew coffee, hands down. 

The classic drip coffee maker design includes a hot plate with a carafe that sits on top of it. Above that is a basket, where you place a filter holding your coffee grounds. There’s also a cistern to pour water into, which you’ll find on the back of most machines.

Different individual brands and models of drip coffee brewers can be substantially different when it comes to the settings you can change on the machine and which extra features are included. Some drip coffee brewers will let you choose what temperature the water should be heated to before it moves into the filter to steep with the coffee beans. Other drip coffee makers have timers that allow you to set the machine up so the coffee is ready to brew, then choose the time you want the machine to start heating up and making the coffee. This feature will even let you prep your drip coffee brewer at night, set the timer for a few minutes before your morning alarm starts squawking, and wake up to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

Why People Love Drip Coffee 

Drip coffee machines are easy to use and convenient. Many drip models are equipped with a timer function that allows users to prep their coffee machine at night before bed and program the timer to brew themselves a pot of coffee before their morning alarm goes off. Waking up to the smell of coffee is one of the greatest perks of using electric drip coffee makers. If you drink a lot of coffee in quick succession, or live in a household with other avid coffee drinkers, electric drip machines with large carafes are a great fit, as it gives you plenty of coffee to go around. 

Before pod systems took over the market, it seemed like every house had a drip machine, and they are still very popular coffee makers due to their affordability, convenience, and reliability. As long as you measure your grinds consistently, you will get the same strength and richness every time you brew a pot or a cup. 

Disadvantages of Drip Coffee

The main disadvantage of drip coffee is that you can’t be involved in the brewing process as much as you can with more hands-on coffee makers. There are some customization options on modern models of electric drip machines, but once the brewing process starts, you are merely a spectator, waiting for the machine to finish the job, while other, more inclusive coffee makers allow you the ability to be a player, instead of a spectator. 

Some drip coffee machines are hard to clean and awkward to handle. Many have water reservoirs that are not removable, which makes cleaning them regularly a chore. To make matters worse, if you don’t thoroughly clean your drip machines regularly, there’s a good chance that harmful bacteria may begin to form in those hard to clean areas which can cause gastroenteritis, and other scary sounding conditions. Mold can also form speryedily in dirty reservoirs, so it’s essential to get one that is easier to clean. 

What is Pour Over? 

The pour over coffee technique is simple but somewhat involved. A cone shaped device holds the filter in place above a cup or carafe. The filter is filled with freshly ground coffee. So far, it sounds eerily similar to the drip coffee method. The pour over method differs from the drip coffee method greatly as drip coffee is brewed by machine, while pour over devices require a manual touch. Pour over coffee is made by very slowly pouring hot water over your coffee grinds by hand. Pour over devices are simple and cheap. It may take a little time to perfect your pour over technique, but once you do, you can be really creative. Having control over the brewing process helps you understand new ways to get the most flavor and aroma out of your beans.

Why People Love Pour Over Coffee 

Pour over coffee wasn’t very popular at first. A machine called the Chemex was released while the majority of homes continued to purchase drip machines to make their coffee. However, those that bought a Chemex swore by the quality of brew that the pour over device created, and a small but loyal following grew. Nowadays, the pour over method, the most simple method of coffee brewing, is one of the most popular brewing techniques in the world.

The only thing you need to brew pour over coffee is grounds (preferably a grinder and whole beans), a filter, and a pour over dripper, which holds the filter over your favorite cup or mug. When you’re finished brewing, just toss away the filter and rinse off your dripper, and clean-up is done. Pour over devices don’t need to take up any counter space either. When they are not in use, you can just store them away in a cabinet until you need it again. 

Disadvantages of the Pour Over Method

Pour over brewers can vary a great deal from one model to another, and the process you’ll use to make coffee can change substantially depending on the pour over system you’ve chosen. For this reason and simply because most of us are familiar with drip coffee pots, learning to use a new pour over setup can feel just a tiny bit daunting. However, the feeling of uncertainty won’t last long. Pour over brewers really aren’t that difficult to learn to use. They just take a bit of getting used to, and you’ll most likely have to start back over at the beginning with each new pour over system you own.

Pour over systems aren’t well suited for large families or anyone who needs to be able to prepare several cups of coffee at a time. And if you’re the type of person who likes to make one pot of coffee and drink from it throughout the day, unless you’re interested in changing your routine, pour over brewers probably isn’t the right choice for you. Many pour over setups are equipped to make just one cup of coffee at a time.   

Drip Coffee Vs. Pour Over

So, which is better, pour over coffee or drip coffee? That question has a very complicated answer, as we all have different tastes and preferences. It is easier to determine which method is well-suited to your particular taste than to determine which method is better or worse. For people who enjoy being in control of how their coffee is brewed and prefer a hands-on brewing experience, as well as a smooth, robust, dark, flavorful, coffee, the pour over method is the best option. For those who want simplicity and convenience from their coffee maker, people or households that drink lots of coffee, and those that like a more mild, mellow brew, drip coffee makers are the perfect choice. 

Many people, including the author, prefer pour over coffee to drip coffee, but drip machines are still amongst the top selling coffee makers on the market, so there are obviously people who think drip coffee is superior. There are newer models of the electric drip coffee maker that are amongst the best coffee makers on the market, with features that allow much more customization and control over your brew. On the other hand, there are pour over devices that cost less than $20, which can be used to make a superb cup of joe that could change your life and cause you to make the switch from drip coffee to pour over. Everyone has different tastes though, which is why there are so many options available.  

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