This definitive guide to the best pour-over coffee makers of 2020 compares the Chemex, Hario V60 and Kalita Wave. We spoke to three coffee veterans to break down which brewer is best for the at-home coffee brewer (Skip to the winner).
Pour-over coffee is nothing new. The Chemex brewer, now iconic, has been around since World War II. Decades before that, a German housewife named Melitta Bentz invented the Melitta filter and pour-over system. But for some time, the place of the pour-over coffee brewer was largely in the cafés and kitchens of coffee professionals. Today, however, pour-over brewers are in the middle of something of a popularity renaissance.
When I asked Dylan Siemens, the 2017 Brewers Cup Champion and Head of Coffee Education at Onyx Coffee Lab, what pour-over systems have over automated drip machines, his answer was technical, practical and scientific.
“There’s really no way to replicate the feeling of making a pour over the right way if you use a machine.”
“It’s much simpler to make the exact amount of coffee you want and you can bring most pour overs with you if you travel or go somewhere else and still want great coffee. There’s also a lot more experimentation you can get into with changing pour technique, water temperature, pour over device and all that,” he said. “But I think for most people it’s a lot about the ritual of it. I feel like I still learn something every time I make a cup of pour over.”
Edward O’Hickey, Educator at Toby’s Estate, echoed Siemens’s sentiment. “There’s really no way to replicate the feeling of making a pour over the right way if you use a machine,” he said. “It’s a completely different experience — it just puts me in a better mood.”
Steve Willingham, Director of Coffee at Oklahoma-based KLLR Coffee said much of the same: “[Pour over] doesn’t make this magical, unattainable cup of coffee, but it does make excellent, fresher coffee — it’s almost meditative. It’s a completely different experience.”
I asked each coffee pro which pour-over brewers are the best, and each said the same three names: Chemex, Hario V60 and Kalita Wave. “Those are the big three. There are others, but none are close to those in popularity,” Willingham said.
So we rigorously tested each for convenience and quality to determine which is the best for you. Here’s what we found.