Making pour-over coffee first requires the right setup. Specifically, you need three things: a pour-over coffee maker (sometimes called a manual drip coffee maker), a pour-over kettle, and a scale, in order to keep track of the coffee bean–water ratio. But with so many different coffee makers, kettles, and scales out there, it can be hard to know which pour-over gear makes the best coffee. You might be tempted to go with the most recognizable name in pour-over coffee makers: Chemex, which is a great option. But we wanted to know if there were Chemex alternatives that were a little less expensive but worked just as well.
Kris Wood, Co-Owner, Black Fox Coffee
“The most important factor that everyone overlooks is water. If your water is clean and has the right combination of minerals, you’re going to get a delicious result. New York water is very clean, but it picks up a lot of particles from the old pipes. A water filter is absolutely necessary if you’d like to achieve café-quality coffee at home. Brita does a good job; just make sure the cartridge is fresh.”
“At Black Fox we use a Hario V60, and the extraction it delivers is even and consistent when used with skill. Plastic is best, as it does not retain heat. Having your water at the consistently hottest possible temperature will ensure consistent extraction from brew to brew. There are three main things that affect extraction when brewing at atmospheric pressure: grind particle size, contact time of water to coffee, and temperature of water.”
“We use a Bonavita variable-control temperature kettle, as we brew teas at different temperatures. For coffee, we brew at just off-boiling, as it is a consistent machine, and we know what temperature it’s really at.”
“For a scale at home, I’ve used the same Hario scale for three years, and it’s not missed a beat.”
Mike Jones, Director of Retail, Variety Coffee Roasters
“If you want to make great coffee at home, you should aim to eliminate as many variables as possible. Therefore, any product or method that enables you to achieve a repeatable outcome will inevitably yield the best results. For this reason, I think the Abid Clever Coffee Dripper is the best manual coffee maker for home use. The Clever is a mix between a full-immersion brewer like a French press and a traditional pour-over cone. You use time as a brew control. You can use grind as a control by timing how long it takes to drain, and make adjustments if you want it stronger or weaker. The best part is that, due to its design, these steps are measurable and repeatable — you can steep the same amount of time, measure how long it takes to drain, and do the same thing every day without having to overthink it.”
“The best pour-over kettle is the Hario Buono. This kettle has been the industry standard for years, and for good reason. It’s cheaper than other options, pours perfectly consistent, looks nice on your stove top, and is super sturdy.”
“The best scale for home use is the AWS-SC-2KG Digital Pocket Scale. For [about] $20, you get an incredibly durable and highly sensitive scale that measures to the tenth of a gram and is only four inches squared. Can’t beat that.”
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