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Pour Over vs. AeroPress: Bottom Line, Buy 1 Of Each

flat lay of coffee equipment on dark grey background, pour over vs. aeropress

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Thinking about switching up your coffee routine but can’t decide which manual brewing method to try next?

With so many options out there and so much talk about pour over vs. AeroPress, it can all be a bit confusing.

We get it.

And while the pour over and AeroPress share a few positive attributes, there are significant differences between these two popular manual brewing methods.

So how do you decide between the two? Spoiler alert: you don’t. You buy both. 

Let’s take a look at each of these brewing methods in-depth, and you’ll quickly see why there’s no clear winner in the pour over vs. AeroPress debate. So, let’s get brewing.

Pour Over vs. AeroPress

Chemex Pour Over

What’s Pour Over Coffee?

Pour over coffee refers to the 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 reasonably straightforward coffee brewing process, which is why it’s so popular worldwide, but it does require a bit of practice to get it right.

But how is pour over different from drip coffee? While pour over is similar to drip coffee brewing, the slow, manual process sets it apart. Most drip coffee is a hands-off process with an electric brewer.

This slow, manual brewing process allows the barista to control the brew completely and ensures that all the flavor nuances are appropriately extracted from the beans. The result is a complex and bright cup of coffee.

Learning how to brew pour over coffee is a fun process involving several adjustable variables like grind size, coffee to water ratio, pouring methodology, water temperature, and the type of coffee bean used.

These variables create opportunities for mistakes, so some skill is required to brew an epic cup of coffee with a pour over vs. AeroPress. The AeroPress is incredibly simple to use.

aeropress beside black case, aeropress use
aeropress travel

What is AeroPress?

When comparing pour over vs. AeroPress, the AeroPress is the (relatively) shiny new toy.

The AeroPress was invented in 2005 by Alan Adler, an American inventor credited with over 40 patents in electronics, optics, and aerodynamics. 

He’s most well-known for his inventions patented under the Aerobie brand, which manufactures various types of aerodynamic toys and exercise equipment. And later, for being the inventor of AeroPress.

The AeroPress is unique because it uses pressure to create a vacuum-sealed chamber in which hot water and ground coffee combine to create something magical.

Ascaso Steel Duo PID V2
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Like a French press, the Aeropress is an immersion-style brewer, meaning that the ground coffee is immersed in hot water rather than pouring hot water over the coffee.

The result from an AeroPress brew is rich, full-bodied, and concentrated. And, admittedly, addicting.

The pour over vs. AeroPress competition is a dead tie for flavor profiles, as each is inherently unique.

Brewing with the AeroPress is as beginner-friendly as it comes. Follow the included instructions, and you’ll have a delicious cup of coffee in a matter of minutes.

looking down into pour over dripper as water is poured over grounds

Brewing Method

When it comes to each brewing process and equipment requirements, the winner of the pour over vs. AeroPress battle is hands down the AeroPress.

The caveat is that the pour over equipment, regardless of which brand of pour over you choose, is far more aesthetically pleasing than the AeroPress. 

Sorry, AeroPress. You’re just not much to look at.

That said, the pour over method requires a bevy of items to brew successfully. You’ll need the following when brewing pour over coffee:

  1. Pour Over Dripper
  2. Carafe or Mug
  3. Paper Filter
  4. Gooseneck Kettle (electric or stovetop)
  5. Scale
  6. Burr Coffee Grinder
  7. Coffee Beans

So, while the pour over setup looks gorgeous on your kitchen shelf, it doesn’t exactly travel well. But when brewing at home for yourself or a crowd, you’ll likely choose the pour over vs. AeroPress.

The AeroPress, while not as visually appealing, is incredibly portable.

All you need to brew with an AeroPress, in addition to the coffee and grinder, of course, is the AeroPress itself and the scooper and tiny round filter that comes with it. 

This makes it perfect for camping, glamping, or any time you want a really great cup of coffee on the go.

As you may have guessed, the AeroPress is much easier to clean than a pour over setup. Toss out the filter and give the AeroPress a rinse. Done.

So when deciding between pour over vs. AeroPress, consider what’s most important to you. If it’s aesthetics and fun coffee gadgetry, the pour over is the clear winner. 

If portability and ease of cleaning are high on the list, grab the AeroPress. Now, are you beginning to see why we think you actually just need both?

aeropress dripping into yellow mug

Grind Settings

Getting the grind right is crucial to achieving a perfectly brewed cup, regardless of the brewing method. The grind size will influence how quickly or slowly the water passes through the coffee grounds.

Too fast, and you’ll get an under-extracted brew. Too slow, and you’re left with a bitter, over-extracted cup. 

To achieve a consistent grind for either brewing method, pour over vs. AeroPress, you’ll need a quality burr grinder.

Blade grinders are appealing because they are affordable but won’t give you the consistency required to brew a quality cup of coffee.

fellow opus grinder
The Fellow Opus Grinder

Grind Size For Pour Over

The best pour over grind setting is medium-fine. Yep, that is super vague and will require some experimentation.

The ideal grind size for pour over will vary depending on which pour over setup you’re using. The best grind size can range from medium-coarse to medium fine.

We recommend starting with medium-fine and adjusting towards medium-coarse from there. The grind will be a bit finer than regular sand but not as fine as espresso grind.

AeroPress Grind Size

The grind size for AeroPress is almost the same as that for pour over. As with pour over, you’ll want to start with a medium-fine grind but adjust in the opposite direction toward fine as needed.

For a more espresso-like brew, we recommend using a fine grind. This will require a bit more pressure to press the coffee and a little more time, resulting in a more concentrated and rich brew.

hourglass with sand pouring in wooden case

Brewing Time

When it comes to brewing time, the AeroPress has a slight advantage over the pour over. However, the AeroPress has a smaller capacity than most pour over setups.

So while the AeroPress steep time at 2.5 minutes total is about 1-1.5 minutes faster than the pour over, it brews a smaller batch of coffee in the end.

An AeroPress can only hold 250ml of water, while the larger pour over carafes can accommodate up to 600ml or more. So, if you’re brewing for more than one person and can spare an extra minute, pour over is definitely the way to go.

Otherwise, you’re left making multiple batches of AeroPress coffee or one really concentrated batch to dilute with water. 

kalita wave stainless steel dripper on speckled mug on white acaia scale

Price

Ok, so we saved the best part for last. Can you blame us?

Both the pour over and AeroPress are incredibly affordable brewers. We’ve spent more on a single bag of coffee beans than these two brewers combined (and yes, it was that good).

The price of a pour over setup will vary depending on the size of the brewer you choose and the brand and material. In general, most pour over brewers will run you between $20-50, depending on which setup you choose.

The AeroPress will set you back $30-40 depending on which accessories you choose to add to your press.

So when it comes to price, you really can’t go wrong with either choice. Both the pour over and AeroPress are so affordable that you can splurge and get both so that you have the right brewer for whatever coffee adventures your future holds.

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

Final Thoughts: Pour Over Vs. AeroPress

Really, there’s no winner in the pour over vs. AeroPress debate. Both manual brewing methods brew exceptionally well and will result in an epic cup of coffee.

Both methods may be readily prepared without electricity and brew delicious coffee in 4 minutes or less. These two attributes alone make them both fantastic options for just about anyone.

So, if you’re deciding between the two (and really, why would you), perhaps the best way to choose is to consider your daily coffee needs.

For most people brewing coffee at home, the pour over will provide a step up from traditional drip coffee and look stunning on your kitchen counter. Additionally, adjusting the brewing variables and experimenting with this method is fun and can produce some mind-blowing results.

On the other hand, the AeroPress will travel well and provide a rich cup of coffee just about anywhere, be it your kitchen or a beach somewhere along the Oregon coast. You decide.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather Calatrello

Heather Calatrello owner of ShedLight Coffee Roasters