The age-old question, Pour Over Coffee vs Drip? Which one will reign supreme? Okay maybe it’s not that serious, but it’s fun to compare. If you’re just finding out about pour over coffee, and really interested in getting started with pour over coffee, take a look at my previous post about how to get started with pour over.
[RELATED POST: Pour Over Coffee Maker Roundup]
What are the differences between pour over and drip coffee? Here are 3 Main differences
Technical coffee jargon aside, there are three main key differences when it comes to pour over coffee vs drip, control, taste & attention. In this section, I’ll go over in detail what I mean by those three and how they relate to each pour over coffee. It’s worth noting that while it’s fun comparing different brewing methods, the truth is that there’s no right or wrong answer between pour over vs drip. Choose the method of brewing that works best for your situation. We’re not all on the same boat when it comes to our daily coffee routine, my recommendation is to always make the best coffee you can with what you have.
With drip coffee, you’re limited to the roast & ground type and hopefully, the drip machine can extract enough nuances from the coffee each time. With pour over, you’ll have control over roast, ground size, extraction time, ratios, bloom time and finally brew time. Granted this level of control over your coffee isn’t for everyone, most people just want to have a nice cup of coffee and move on with their day and that’s perfectly fine. However, we’re in the age of Third Wave coffee drinkers, and some people just want more from their cup as coffee prices start to rise, you need to make every cup count. This begs the question, why then would you want this much control over coffee? Taste. With pour over coffee, each coffee bag, roast, region, grind size all have different nuances in taste, flavor, and body. You can experiment and try to get as much out of each brew when you do pour over, this is not true with the drip. Your cup of coffee is only as good as the beans and the dripper. That’s not to say a drip coffee machine can’t produce a good cup, I’ve had plenty of Mr. Coffee that was good, not memorable, but good.
Taste / Flavor
While you can still have some control over drip coffee when it comes to taste, there’s no comparison when it comes to manual brewed pour over coffee. Due to all the control, you have over your pour over brew, there’s so much experimentation to be had when it comes to that perfect cup of coffee. Taste is a very subjective topic, the same way people have their favorite wine, the rules apply when it comes to coffee. With drip coffee, however, you can make a fairly consistent cup of coffee without much fuss. But with pour over, proper extraction time, grind, blooming and pour time, you can really get the most flavor out of your coffee. You can experiment on the flavors of the coffee by adjusting a few variables listed above. The flavor profile of the coffee can change dramatically just from the grind sizes alone. Too coarse, the coffee might be sour/light, too fine and you’ll end up with sludgy super full body coffee and maybe even bitter. All that just from one variable, that’s not changing bloom time, pour rate and temperature and taste will vary greatly. I personally go out of my way to buy unique coffees, pour over is great to experience and experiment with different flavors.
Time & Attention
Pour over coffee requires time, attention & love. Whether you’re using a scale or you’ve made so many so many cups of pour over coffee, you know all the measurements by heart, there’s no substitute for time & attention when making pour over coffee. There’s also such a thing as not enough time and we’ve all pretty much been there. Brew-And-Forget coffee makers have a huge advantage over pour over makers when it comes to your time and attention. Pour over requires you to be present, at the moment when making coffee. Sometimes you just can’t dedicate that much effort to make a cup of coffee. All things being equal, it’s a weekend you have an hour to burn in the morning, then, by all means, do the pour over and make the best cup of coffee you can muster. Pour over coffee requires weighing of the beans, getting the right grind size, blooming the coffee for 30-45 seconds, only then do you get to the brew part. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that long, but with a drip, you just put the ground beans in, and hit ‘brew’. I’ve said it before, pour over coffee method is a lifestyle and coffee connoisseurship is a big part of why people love and put the time and effort into a pour over method of brewing coffee.
Coffee Jargon & Technicalities
What is coffee blooming?
Here’s a really good video below that shows the importance of blooming. If you don’t have time to watch the 6 min vid, basically two Chemex set up, one bloomed and the other not bloomed using the same grind, same beans. The outcome is what you would expect from blooming coffee, more body, depth, and nuances compared to non-bloomed coffee. Coffee bloom is essentially the release of carbon dioxide (C02) gasses from beans as a result of the roasting process. Adding hot water to your ground coffee in the filter accelerates the release of C02 causing coffee to bubble up during the blooming process.
What is coffee extraction?
It’s a fancy term for the process of pulling as many flavors out of the coffee and into the water. Extraction has a number of variables to consider such as pour time, water temperature and grind size. All these variables can result in varying taste of the coffee. When done just right, extracting flavors from the coffee bean can reward an amazing cup of coffee. Play around with grind size first and see the difference coarse, medium and fine grinds will have on your cup. I think you’ll find yourself somewhere in the middle between medium- fine for a darker bolder cup and coarse-medium grind for a lighter body with a bit of sweetness from the coffee.
What is pour over coffee ratio?
The ratio is determined by the amount of water used for the number of coffee beans you grind. For my pour over coffees, I typically use a 1 /16 ratio. Meaning for every 1 gram of coffee (whole bean), I use 1 gram of water, I talk about this on a previous post about pour over coffee guide. The 1/16 ratio is a good starting point for most coffees that I make, however depending on the roast and bean type, I may adjust the ratio to experiment to get the flavors that I want from the coffee.
Caffeine Content Drip vs. Pour Over
The truth to the matter is, when compared by serving size, drip coffee actually contains as much caffeine as your typical pour over brew. While your pour over coffee might have more body, flavor, and mouth-feel, it typically contains the same amount of caffeine as a normal cup of drip coffee.
Final Thoughts & Conclusion
I hope this article has cleared some questions about pour over coffee vs drip for you. This is by no means a post attacking drip coffee, I’ve had plenty of good drip coffee in my lifetime. There is a time and place for each kitchen tool and a pour over coffee maker is no different. There will be days when making a pour over coffee isn’t possible and you just want to move on with your day. Even in our office, we have an automatic ‘pour over style’ coffee maker that is used daily. We tested 5 very expensive coffee makers and had to choose which one we would use for our daily coffee needs, you can read that post here. We were pretty surprised by the results. As always, enjoy coffee as you like it.
What is the difference between pour over and drip coffee?
There are three main key differences when it comes to pour over coffee vs drip, control, taste & attention. Pour over coffee allows you to manually control temperature, grind size, technique and extraction.
Why is pour over coffee so good?
Pour over coffee is great because of the control it allows when making your perfect cup of coffee. A finely tuned pour over coffee will produced crisp, clean and full bodied coffee. The filter type, temperature and grind size will play a role in the overall taste of the coffee, but you can adjust as many variables as you want when making pour over coffee.