Pour over coffee vs drip

At first glance, pour over coffee can look very similar to drip coffee. In fact, in some places the terms “pour over”, “filter”, and “drip” are used interchangeably and you might find that a “manual drip” or “filter coffee” in the cafe is actually a pour over. However, the two could not be more different when it comes to automated pour over coffee machines and drip coffee machines.


Brewing Process

With pour over coffee, the hot water is quickly filtered through coffee grounds and to a flask, carafe, or cup, where it is ready for you to drink. The process of making pour over coffee usually takes no more than 3 to 5 minutes. Even with an automated pour over coffee maker, the coffee is freshly made from water that is initially stored in a tank and rapidly heated up, then poured through a filter cone.

With drip coffee, though, the water percolates slowly through the coffee, giving it plenty of time to become infused with flavor. A Japanese iced coffee dripper or drip coffee machine can use hours to allow the water to flow through the tightly packed bed of coffee grounds, just to create a few servings of coffee. As such, the grind size and temperature of water used also differs.



yama-drip-towerBecause the water is not allowed to remain steeping with the coffee grounds, pour over coffee is much smoother and milder in flavor than drip coffee. Since paper filters are involved, the heavier flavors and oils of the coffee are reduced.

Traditional drip coffee is more concentrated and contains more caffeine, and is also oilier since no filters are used in brewing. This is why, over time, drip coffee that isn’t well-prepared can taste quite heavy and horrible – entirely bitter and flavorless like what you might get a McDonald’s.

Japanese iced drip coffee, like the Yama Glass Dripper or Hario Ice Dripper, however, are different because they use cold water. Like a cold brew, the resulting coffee is more viscous, sweet, and refreshing.

With the confusion that the terms might cause, it’s better to confirm the exact method used to make your coffee as the “drip” coffee may well be made using a pour over method and can be quite enjoyable.