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Drip Coffee vs. Pour Over: 3 Key Differences You Should Know

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Wait… aren’t drip coffee and pour over coffee the same thing? Yes and no.

It’s really a matter of semantics. Pour over coffee is a form of drip coffee, but drip coffee is not pour over coffee. Yep, that is confusing.

So let’s get right to it and look at drip coffee vs. pour over and the, sometimes, subtle differences between these brews. 

Drip Coffee vs. Pour Over

Drip coffee and pour over are popular methods to brew coffee at home. This is likely because they are simple to learn and yield favorable results.

But what is the difference between drip coffee and pour over? Is drip coffee the same as pour over?

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How to brew coffee with a coffee maker

What Does Drip Coffee Mean?

Drip coffee is made by slowly dripping near-boiling water through ground coffee. Drip coffee can technically refer to several different brewing methods, including pour over.

Hence the confusion when comparing drip coffee vs. pour over.

However, drip coffee is most commonly made these days using an electric drip coffee maker. The term “drip coffee” commonly refers to this form of coffee brewing rather than other manual brewing methods involving dripping coffee.

fellow opus grinder
The Fellow Opus Grinder

And if you’re looking for the best of both worlds, you might want to try an automatic pour over coffee maker; it’s the perfect marriage between a drip coffee maker and manual pour over coffee.

Brewing is relatively hands-off with drip coffee vs. pour over, where the brewer has total control over the speed and flow of the water through the ground coffee.

Using a drip coffee maker to brew coffee is a very straightforward process; however, similar to pour over, several variables may be adjusted to achieve the desired result.

stainless steel pour over cone dripping coffee into clear glass mug, What is a pour over coffee
To brew coffee

What is a Pour Over Coffee?

How is pour over coffee different from drip? Pour over coffee refers to a manual brewing method that involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds through a filter in a dripper over a carafe or mug.

While pour over coffee originated in Europe and has been around for centuries (some credit Germany’s Melitta Bentz for her 1908 invention of the paper coffee filter), it has recently gained popularity worldwide.

The pour over method is a straightforward coffee brewing process, which is why it’s so popular worldwide. While pour over is similar to drip coffee brewing, the slow, manual process sets it apart. Most drip coffee is brewed with an electric brewer and is a hands-off process.

The slow, manual brewing process provides a relaxing brewing experience and ensures that all flavor nuances are appropriately extracted from the beans. The result is a complex, savory cup of coffee.

Learning how to brew coffee with a pour over is a fun process involving several adjustable variables like grind size, coffee to water ratio, and water temperature.

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Baratza Encore Conical Burr Grinder

Drip Coffee Grind Size

TBH, most people fail at this step of the coffee brewing process before they even get to the other variables.

The size of the coffee grind determines the rate at which the coffee is brewed. An incorrect grind will result in two potential outcomes: under-extraction or over-extraction. Under-extraction occurs when the grind is too coarse and the water moves through the coffee grinds too quickly. The resulting cup will taste sour and acidic.

Over-extraction occurs when the grind is too fine, resulting in a bitter and dull brew devoid of defining characteristics. So while getting the correct coffee water ratio for drip coffee is essential, it won’t do you any good if your grind is off.

You’ll want to use a medium grind size (resembling regular sand) for drip coffee vs. pour over, where you might want to lean a touch finer. 

We like to use a medium-fine setting for pour over, but experiment with your grinder until you find the right setting. Some prefer a medium setting, whether grinding for drip coffee vs. pour over.

Getting a precise, consistent grind is critical to brewing the best cup of drip coffee or the perfect pour over. To get the grind just right, you’ll need a burr grinder

Once you’ve dialed your grind size, you’ll want to experiment with coffee-to-water ratios to get the most balanced brew. Let’s look at the best ratio for pour over coffee vs drip.

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from: Ritual

Ratio For Drip Coffee

When brewing drip coffee, we advise starting with a 1:15 coffee water ratio and adjusting from there. But for best results, we recommend staying somewhere between 1:15 and 1:18.

Why the range? When deciding on a coffee-water ratio, one thing to consider is how you, or your guests, prefer to take the coffee. If the coffee is diluted with cream, this must be considered in the ratio for drip coffee.

A lower coffee-to-water ratio is a better place to start for those who take cream and/or sweeteners in their coffee. If the coffee is consumed black, there is more room to play with the ratio. We find that a 1:17 coffee water ratio works exceptionally well for black coffee, as more flavor nuances are drawn out with the additional water.

Another point to consider is the type of coffee bean. While a lighter roast may taste better at a 1:15 ratio, you might find that your favorite medium-dark roast is better extracted at a 1:16 ratio. 

But, for most people, a coffee water ratio of 1:15 will work well. Start here and adjust as needed.

chemex brewing coffee on white acaia scale beside black fellow kettle, how is pour over coffee different from drip, what is the difference between pour over and drip coffee maker

Coffee Pour Over Ratio

As with drip coffee, pour over coffee requires some finessing to get the coffee to water ratio just right for your taste.

A ratio of 1:15 is our favorite for drip coffee vs. pour over, where we typically use a 1:16 coffee to water ratio. In other words, 30g of coffee and 480g of filtered water. Start here and adjust as desired.

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electric gooseneck kettle
Fellow Stagg EKG Kettle

Temp To Brew Coffee

With drip coffee, there is no need to determine the temperature of the water before brewing, as the machine will do it for you. 

Finding the proper water temperature is a no-brainer when brewing drip coffee vs. pour over, where there is far more room for error. This is one big difference between pour over and drip coffee maker brewing.

The best temperature for pour over coffee is about 30 seconds off the boil or around 205 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re lazy in the morning like us, skip the thermometer and just wait 30 seconds to start brewing once your kettle boils.

Or get yourself a fancy gooseneck kettle with a digital temperature read-out, and you’re good to go.

The best temperature for pour over also works well for drip coffee, and knowing this is handy when selecting a coffee machine. Look for a high-quality machine that brews at around 205 degrees Fahrenheit for the best results.

Best Coffee Beans For Pour Over

While some coffee brewing methods yield a better result with a particular type of bean (like dark roast beans and espresso), this is not the case with pour over or drip coffee.

The good news is that the best beans for drip coffee vs pour over are the same: whichever beans you like the best! 

The pour over method extracts even the most subtle flavor nuances, making it ideal for sampling various roasts. So don’t be afraid to experiment with several different coffee beans to determine your preferences.

You won’t get as many unique nuances when brewing drip coffee vs. pour over, but if it’s your go-to brewing method, it’ll still work well with any bean you choose.

Now let’s get to the fun part.

chemex with coffee on white scale beside glass with iced coffee and book on wood table

How To Make A Pour Over Coffee

Pour over coffee is pretty straightforward to prepare. That said, a few pieces of equipment simplify the brewing process.

Here’s what you’ll need to brew pour over coffee:

  1. Gooseneck Kettle
  2. Pour Over coffee maker 
  3. Paper Filter
  4. Scale
  5. High-quality coffee beans (30g)
  6. Grinder
  7. Filtered water (480g)

If you’re new to the pour over method, we recommend starting with the Hario V60 (02 size) and the corresponding 02 server.

If you’re only brewing consistently one cup at a time, you can opt for the 01 dripper size and skip the carafe altogether. Simply place the dripper over your mug of choice.

Otherwise, if brewing more than one cup at a time, use a carafe or container that can hold 16oz of coffee.

Here’s how to make a pour over coffee:

Step 1: Heat Water

Set the kettle over high heat (or on an electric kettle base) and bring water to a boil.

container of coffee beans on hario scale with kettle, Best coffee beans for pour over

Step 2: Measure & Grind Coffee

While heating the water, use your scale to weigh 30g of coffee and grind it to a medium-fine consistency. The grind size will resemble Kosher salt.

This grind is finer than you’d use for cold brew or French press. You’ll want a good-quality burr grinder to achieve a consistent grind.

Step 3: Prep Brewer

Set your beehive server or carafe on the scale and tare the scale to zero. Place a paper filter in the dripper. 

Once the water boils, wet the filter paper first and discard the wetting liquid before brewing. This process removes any woodsy paper flavor from the final product.

This step also warms the brewer and helps achieve a consistent brewing temperature.

Add the ground coffee to the filter, set the dripper on the carafe, and tare (or zero) the scale again.

close up of coffee in dripper of chemex on white acaia scale, Best temperature for pour over coffee

Step 4: Brew Coffee

Bloom the coffee first by pouring enough near-boiling water to saturate the grounds thoroughly. Stop before the water flows into the carafe. 

Wait 30-45 seconds. We recommend a timer, which is critical to achieving the absolute best brew.

(Blooming the ground coffee allows it to de-gas and release carbon dioxide. The grounds will bubble up and create space for the water to interact with the ground coffee. The more interaction, the better the resulting brew will be.)

Begin brewing by pouring water in a slow, circular motion, adding water every 10-15 seconds. Aim for the dark spots and avoid the light ones.

Continue slowly adding water until the scale reaches 480g. Total brewing time should take about 3-4 minutes.

chemex brewer
chemex pour over
Chemex Pour Over Brewer

Step 5: Enjoy Pour Over Coffee

As soon as all of the water has drained through the filter, discard the used coffee grounds. Do not attempt to release additional water from the filter, as this may result in an over-extracted brew and negatively impact the taste.

Serve the coffee immediately for the best flavor, and savor the fruit of your (minimal) labor.

hand pouring coffee from hario beehive carafe into ceramic mug on white surface, The perfect pour over

How To Brew Coffee With A Coffee Maker

Now that you’ve mastered the art of pour over coffee, it’s unlikely that you’ll return to brewing drip coffee vs. pour over. The flavor and nuances extracted from the pour over method put drip coffee to shame.

However, there may be times when you need to brew a large pot of coffee for a crowd, or you just can’t be bothered with a slow, manual brewing method.

We get it. These days, you’ll opt for drip coffee vs. pour over. 

While using a drip coffee maker to brew coffee may seem straightforward, because it is, there are a few tricks to improving the quality of the brew from your drip machine.

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How to brew coffee with a coffee maker
best drip coffee maker

Here are a few tips for how to use a drip coffee maker:

1. Drip coffee ratio: as mentioned above, start with a 1:15 coffee to water ratio and adjust from there. Always use a scale to measure coffee and water versus a coffee scoop, and measure your beans before grinding them.

2. Drip coffee grind size: be sure to use a burr grinder and grind your coffee to medium size. The grind should resemble sand. 

3. Do not use pre-ground coffee. While pre-ground coffee is ground to medium consistency and is, therefore, the correct size for drip coffee, we will never recommend using it. 

Pre-ground coffee is already stale when you bring it home. It is always best to use whole bean coffee and grind it before brewing.

4. Use filtered water: we always recommend using filtered water with any brewing method. So whether you’re brewing drip coffee vs. pour over, use the best-tasting water available.

5. Clean your drip coffee machine: we recommend cleaning a drip coffee machine daily to avoid any build-up of hard water minerals, coffee, or, worse, mildew. 

Cleaning a drip coffee maker is incredibly simple when done regularly. Simply rinse the carafe with warm water and gentle dish soap to remove all coffee residue. Discard used coffee grounds and thoroughly rinse the dripper. 

Be sure to dry all components and avoid reassembling the machine until all parts are thoroughly dry.

Do not store any water in the tank, as this may lead to mildew or mold growth. We recommend leaving the lid to the tank open for a few hours post-brewing to allow it to dry completely.

Airscape vacuum coffee canister in matte black
Airscape Stainless Steel Coffee Canister

Final Thoughts: Pour Over Coffee vs Drip

So while pour over coffee is technically drip, we now know how different these two brewing styles are. They use different brewing equipment and have unique grind settings and coffee-to-water ratios.

But whether you’re brewing pour over coffee vs drip, making a few minor adjustments to your routine can yield majorly delicious results.

Always use whole-bean coffee and grind it just before brewing, measure your coffee and water to ensure your ratio is accurate, and use a burr grinder to get a consistent grind every time.

These small changes will significantly impact the final brew regardless of whether it’s drip coffee vs pour over. 



Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters