Pourover Vs. Drip Brewer; A Showdown of Laziness Vs. Extraction Perfection

I have a confession to make.  My daily morning cup of coffee comes from our home Technivorm Moccamaster coffee pot.  I don’t use a V60 pour over, a Chemex, or an Aeropress daily.  I got a demo of a Jura super automatic and now it gathers dust at home.  We’ve kept a high-end espresso machine in the ‘coffee area’ of our house and no one noticed when I took it into the shop (except that we had more counter space).  If there is a new brewing method out there, I buy it, try it, and shelve it.  That is my modus operandi.  So, the question is, why?  If there are 100 different ways to brew coffee and I have them all at my fingertips, why do I just go with the solution that 95% of the coffee brewing world uses? 

What is a drip brewer & pour over?

Before we get too far down this path, let’s define terms.  A pour over brewer is a broad term that includes a ton of different brewers.  The most common of these is likely the drip coffee pot.  However, in a ‘manual brew’ scenario, the most common pour over is the Hario V60 dripper (specifically the 02 size).  So, in this blog, I’m using general terms to describe specific brewing methods.  I’ll even take it a step further and note that for me, the drip brewer is the Technivorm Moccamaster.  Technivorm has some very specific benefits over other drip brewers that I think are key.  I’ll touch on that in a minute, but we also have a video that gives you a full overview of this brewer if you want to know more.

I also would say that my favorite pour over brewing method isn’t even described in this blog.  Check out my video on the Chemex to learn more about that one.

It is interesting and exciting to note that in our coffee shop our #1 selling drink is a V60 pour over with one of our gold label coffees.  We love so much about this brewing method and I want to show you today why it is head and shoulders above a drip cup of coffee, even though I brew drip coffee daily.

My drip isn’t just any drip

When you think of drip coffee, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?  Maybe it’s an old Mr Coffee coffeemaker, the one that was white, but is now mostly yellowed?  Perhaps it is a nice Capresso coffee brewer?  Perhaps you think of a can of coffee and scooping it into the flat bottomed filter basket.  Well, I’d like you to remove all of those images from your mind and reset the idea of a drip coffee maker.  Drip coffee can be easy & great, but you must want to make it that way and be willing to pay for it.

Many of my friends love the routine of morning coffee.  They grind and pour over their coffee in one of many brewing methods.  The ritual and routine and first sip of that process is part of what they love about coffee.  That’s not me, not when I first wake up.  I just love coffee.  I don’t want to settle for bad coffee (or utility coffee), but I normally don’t want to work for it.  This is where the luxury of a Baratza Vario-W grinder and a Technivorm Moccamaster come in.  We use the Vario-W because it is dialed in to grind 58.2 grams of coffee each morning at the grind level we love.  Then the Moccamaster brews our coffee to the perfect temperature.  It is the simplicity of a nearly automatic process, but the quality of our dreams (which is good, because most mornings I’m still dreaming into my 2nd cup).

Recently Karla wrote a blog post going into detail on the Technivorm Moccamaster, so I’m not going to repeat her post here.  But I will say that for about 15 years, my daily coffee has come from one of these awesome machines.  It does a great job with water temperature and spray over the grounds.  It is pricey, but I think it is worth every penny.

I’m lazy and this is easier for 2

However, there are WAY less expensive ways to brew an amazing cup of coffee.  The Vario-W is the epitome of laziness.  It measures the grounds for you to the 10th of a gram with a push of a button.  Do you know what else that can do that?  Any $10 scale from the grocery store or Amazon.  But I love that convenience and hey discounted brewers are a perk of owning a coffee business.

The Moccamaster also shows off my laziness.  I could heat water in one of a hundred different ways.  In fact, I have had an instant-hot water tank under my sink before (and we still used the Moccamaster).  We have a Fellow pitcher next to our Moccamaster.  We have about 10 different pour over tools in the cupboard above the counter.  The go to V60 ceramic filter is next to our coffee cups.  It is SUPER easy to get the amazing flavor profile from a V60 pour over.  It is noticeably better every time I drink one.  And still, I’d prefer to fill the Moccamaster, make a pot and split it with Jenna.

V60 is better and I’ll tell you why

So why is the V60 out there?  If the Moccamaster makes such a good cup of coffee and it really does, why does a manual brewer exist?  The answer is simple and complicated.  For today’s blog, I’ll go over the simple.  In a later blog, we’ll talk in detail about extraction theory.

Two variables are more important than anything else when it comes to coffee extraction. 

#1 is water temperature.  The water needs to be between 195 & 205 degrees.  That means that if you’re coffee pot is old and cannot get the water up to temp, it will produce a more bitter cup of coffee.  A V60 is an inexpensive way to measure your water temperature every time. 

#2 is flow rate.  Depending on your coffee pot, it does not take into account the flow rate for your coffee extraction.  That means that it either over-soaks the beans and ends up brewing more like an immersion method or it pours all of the water over the center of the bed and allows for channeling.  Channeling is where the water passes through channels in the bean bed too quickly and in those channels you get a lower extraction yield.  The reality is you get pockets of under-extracted coffee and pockets of over-extracted coffee.  The under-extracted portions of your coffee will be more sour and less sweet, where the over-extracted will be bitter and hollow.  A poorly extracted coffee from a low cost drip brewer, will likely give you a little of both of these.  Your coffee just plain won’t be as good.  

However, in a V60 brewer, you have the ability to control the extraction very well and pour an amazing coffee of coffee every time.  You just have to be willing to manually stand there and pour.  Frankly, it doesn’t sound that hard when I put it like that.

So what?

The decision is in your hands.  You’ll never be able to enjoy the perfect cup of coffee every single time you drink one, so what are your tolerances?  Where are you willing to sacrifice flavor for ease of brewing?  You have to decide for yourself.  I’ve chosen to spend money and save time each morning.  I feel the Moccamaster gives me a ‘good enough’ cup of coffee each morning to get me to the shop where our amazing Baristas can brew me something better.  However, on a Saturday, there is nothing like a perfect V60 to start your day.