The last decade has brought a wave of technological innovation to the automatic coffee-brewing space. The impulse behind the evolution of the automatic pour-over machine is a desire to replicate the cup quality produced by the manual pour-over technique, which allows for a great deal of control over the most important brewing parameters: water temperature, grind size and brewing time.
Gone are the days when one needed to buy pre-ground coffee to scoop into the Mr. Coffee machine. Largely gone, too, are multi-function brewers with built-in grinders (all the rage in the early 2000s). But sometimes you don’t need the full-blown ritual that a manual pour-over offers—especially if you’re serving a crowd or if you’re late for work.
The current emphasis of automatic pour-over coffee makers is on precision brewing, hence the shift in nomenclature, too. To be clear, there is no categorical difference between the “automatic drip” machines of the past and the “automatic pour-over” machines on the market today. The latter simply foregrounds the intentions of the designers of these new brewers, which is, again, to refine and automate the precision brewing styles you can achieve with manual pour-over techniques. And what’s amazing is that these innovations don’t make your life more complicated; most of these machines have very simple operation, and the fancy upgrades are built into the mechanisms themselves.
First thing’s first: in order to make the most of any of these machines, you’ll need a small gram scale and a grinder (preferably burr).
The most important aspects to consider when shopping for an automatic pour-over brewer are ease of use, consistency of brew, price, and design (because this device will likely be on display in your kitchen all the time).
You won’t see many pre-programming options in these otherwise high-tech brewers, namely because timers and other pre-sets would require that you grind your coffee the night before—and since coffee starts to oxidize as soon as you grind it, that would never be an ideal approach to dialing in a brew that showcases the nuances of each coffee in its peak form. The extra two minutes you’ll spend weighing out and grinding your coffee fresh each morning will be repaid in superior-quality coffee.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Ratio 6
Material: stainless steel/handblown borosilicate glass | Brand: Ratio | Color: black/white/stainless Item Weight: 8 pounds | Included Accessories: thermal carafe | Warranty: 5-year
- Built-in bloom cycle
- Wide, even-wetting shower-style head
- Uses regular basket filters
- Carafe has wide enough opening for easy cleaning
- Plug must be forcefully secured
- On the expensive side
Why we chose it: The Ratio 6 is simple to use, brews a wide range of coffee types consistently well, has a minimalist footprint, and best replicates the manual pour-over style of coffee.
The Ratio 6, developed and manufactured in Portland by founder and CEO Mark Hellweg, strikes a lovely balance between form and function. The machine is built with sturdy components designed to last, and when put through its paces with coffees of different processing styles and roast levels, it performed consistently well with just a few tweaks to grind size. Water is heated to precisely 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a sweet spot for most coffees.
The built-in bloom cycle pre-wets the coffee grounds to prepare them for optimal brewing. It’s a nice size for daily home use (brews up to six cups/40 ounces), and it comes standard with a wide-mouth thermal carafe that makes for easy cleaning. It is stylishly unobtrusive on the counter. The Ration 6 is on the higher end of the price scale, but it’s not exorbitant.
Best Value: Zojirushi Zutto5-Cup Coffee Maker
Material: stainless steel/plastic/glass | Brand: Zojirushi | Color: silver Item Weight: 4.62 pounds | Included Accessories: scoop, charcoal water filter | Warranty: 1 year
- Uses standard cone filters
- Largely plastic construction makes it seem flimsy
- Brief warranty (one year)
Why we chose it: At just under $75, this attractive brewer made by the Japanese company famous for its rice cookers turns out relatively consistent cups and takes up little counter space.
The Zojirushi is ideal for a dorm room or small kitchen with its small footprint. It brews a full pot (five cups maximum) more quickly than larger-capacity devices. The downside of the low price is that it’s largely made of plastic, but if you don’t look at it as a purchase for the ages, the tradeoff is affordable, solidly brewed coffee.
Best Splurge: Chemex Ottomatic 2.0
Material: aluminum/borosilicate/glass/plastic/wood | Brand: Chemex | Color: clear/silverwith wood accents Item Weight: 14 pounds | Included Accessories: starter pack of filters | Warranty: 1 year
- Attractive, elegant design reminiscent of a wine carafe
- Pulsing water technology wets grounds evenly and slowly
- Brews hot or cold coffee
- Sturdy construction
- Loses heat quickly
- Carafe for automatic machine is smaller than the Chemex manual pour-over carafe
Why we chose it: The Chemex Ottomatic 2.0 is an aesthete’s dream, with graceful curves that invoke a wine carafe — it also pours beautifully, so it’s a nice serving piece for brunch.
The carafe sits on a hot plate, which keeps it moderately warm, but heat escapes quickly through the carafe’s wide opening. It provides an opportunity to see how you enjoy coffee as it cools, which is sort of a secret of the specialty coffee-obsessed. Many people prefer warm (rather than piping hot), even room-temperature coffee. But for those who don’t, if you’re not serving immediately, you’ll want to pour the coffee into a thermal carafe. Ultimately, the biggest draw here is the machine’s beautiful design, as well as its ability to replicate manual pour-over results in the cup. It heats water to precisely 204.8 degrees Fahrenheit (the top of the temperature range of the Specialty Coffee Association’s standards), which performs slightly better on lighter-roasted coffees than darker ones. What you’re paying a premium for here is the visual appeal of this device, and if it’s up your alley, it’s worth it.
Best for Ease of Use: Bonavita One-Touch
Material: stainless steel/plastic | Brand: Bonavita | Color: stainless/black | Item Weight: 6.13 pounds | Included Accessories: n/a | Warranty: 2 years
- Optional pre-infusion mode
- One-touch operation
- Auto-off mechanism
- Warming plate isn’t very efficient
- Design is basic
- Loses heat quickly
Why we chose it: The Bonavita One-Touch, which truly offers one-touch brewing after setup, is the simplest to use of all the devices on this list.
From opening the box to brewing your first pot takes only about 10 minutes. If you’re
looking for a no-frills machine that’s straightforward and consistent, this is a good, albeit pricey, choice. It’s a bit expensive for its downsides, in particular the thermal carafe’s quick heat loss, but what you lose in heat retention, you gain in ease of use. There is very little learning curve with this device. There is no reason not to use the optional pre-infusion mode, and once that is selected in setup, the brewer truly does offer “one-touch” operation.
Best Design-Driven: Technivorm Moccamaster KBGV Select
Material: TK | Brand: Technivorm | Color: 18 color choices Item Weight: 9.35 pounds | Included Accessories: filter starter pack, scoop | Warranty: 5 years
- Comes in a wide array of exciting colors
- Has a retro-industrial look and feel
- Fast brewing time
- Responsive customer service
- Loses heat quickly
- Water tank is not removable
Why we chose it: The Technivorm Moccamaster, made in The Netherlands, has upped the ante on playful, functional design with its new KBGV Select Series — the choice of 18 colors, alone, is worth a slight bump in price, especially given how consistent the brewing technology is.
This automatic pour-over brewer looks like it’s out of the original Victrola era in its retro-groovy design, and the aesthetic is integrated with the functional prowess that Technivorm has long mastered. Colors available in the new KBGV Select line — count ‘em, 18 in all — allow the machine to look good in any décor context, from warehouse to Victorian. The brewer utilizes the tried-and-true method of earlier models, which gained fans among specialty coffee devotees for its copper boiling element that heats water quickly and consistently. The glass carafe doesn’t hold heat as long as it might, even given the independent hot plate; this seems to be a function of the glass carafe rather than the hot plate. But the coffee that this machine brews is always balanced and clean, and the pretty machine is a pleasure to handle.
Best High-Volume: Breville 12-Cup Precision Brewer
Material: stainless steel/plastic | Brand: Breville | Color: stainless steel | Item Weight: 3.15 pounds | Included Accessories: filter starter pack, scoop, water hardness test strip | Warranty: 2 years
- 6 brewing modes
- Lightweight, especially for its capacity
- 2 types of basket options
- Steep learning curve
- Water tank is not removable
Why we chose it: The Breville 12-Cup Precision Brewer makes up to 12 cups of coffee in one pot, so it’s ideal for high-consumption families or those who have frequent coffee-drinking guests.
In addition to its large brewing capacity, the Breville has more customization options than any other brewer on this list. This can be a plus or a minus, depending on your needs. If you like to adjust your brew methods frequently, this machine gives you a lot to experiment with, but every custom feature comes with a learning curve. Getting to know the device fully takes considerable time and commitment. It comes standard with two filters (cone and basket), as well as six brewing modes: gold (referring to the Specialty Coffee Association’s “gold cup standard”), fast, strong, iced, cold brew, and “my brew” custom setting. It’s a little much for the average person. However, the “gold” method consistently produces high-quality coffee in high volume.
Best Space-Saver: OXO Brew
Material: Polypropylene | Brand: OXO| Color: silver/black | Item Weight: 10.29 pounds | Included Accessories: extra basket, scoop, “rainmaker” | Warranty: 10 years
- Compact, lightweight but sturdy
- Comes with one-cup option
- High-quality thermal carafe
- Basket doesn’t sit flat on counter-top
- Water tank is not removable
Why we chose it: The smallest of the brewers on this list, the OXO Brew offers powerful control over your coffee in a well-designed, compact package.
Not surprisingly, the most compact brewer also offers the ability to make just one cup at a time, a feature that no other machine on this list can boast. (It’s possible on other devices but not offered as a guided option.) It can also brew up to eight cups at a time, so there’s a good range of options. The thermal carafe is of exceptional quality in terms of both heat retention and pouring, and for all its compactness, this is a sturdy, durable machine. Weirdy, the basket doesn’t sit completely flat on surfaces, so it’s a bit wobbly and precarious when full of ground coffee during setup. It’s an easy machine to use, and it produces a consistently balanced cup.
How We Chose These Products
Each product was tested by Kim Westerman, a coffee sensory analyst and Licensed Q-grader. We followed manufacturers’ instructions for testing each machine using the same roasted coffee to control for variations in cup quality. After brewing a full pot of coffee in each machine, cups were assessed in terms of balance, clarity, aroma, acidity, flavor and mouthfeel. Product recommendations are based on the overall cup quality combined with price, ease of use, and aesthetic presentation/design.
Features to Keep in Mind When Shopping for Automatic Pour-Over Coffee Makers
Thermal Carafe vs Hot Plate
A thermal carafe is much more efficient than a hot plate for keeping coffee hot. A hot plate can scorch the brewed coffee if left on for too long, and it also does not heat the entire pot evenly. If hot coffee is a priority, and you have an automatic machine with a hot plate, you can simply pour freshly brewed coffee into a separate thermal carafe. But automatic pour-over machines with a thermal carafe option (in lieu of a glass carafe) will save you the extra step.
Programmability is a double-edged sword: It’s nice to have choices about how to get the most out of your machine, but the more complex the program options, the steeper the learning curve. So, go only for the features you know you will use. For the most control over each brew, you’ll want to learn how to adjust your grind size and identify your ideal water-to-coffee ratio, both of which are manual experiments. Once you’ve dialed in the parameters for your favorite coffee style, you can set up your machine to replicate this each time. Avoid machines that offer timers to begin brewing while you’re still asleep, simply because they require that you pre-grind your coffee, and it will oxidize overnight, negatively affecting cup quality.
Ease of Use
Conversely, “one-touch” machines offer ease of use without a great deal of control over variables that will influence the brew. Choose a machine that offers the easiest route to the features that are most important to you. If quick morning coffee is your top priority, then get your grind size and water-to-coffee ratio dialed in for the fastest path to your first cup with a one-touch machine or a pre-programmed option that gives you your desired outcome. But if you are more interested in fine-tuning the end product, changing brewing parameters for each new coffee, then go for a machine that allows you to intervene at any step. Either way, you’ll want your go-to features to be as easy to comprehend and use as possible.
While aesthetics are subjective, the look and feel of each machine, and its counter profile, are important factors in choosing an automatic pour-over machine. The choices on this list range from classic stainless steel to colorful industrial-chic to gracefully shaped glass.
Our recommendations range in price from $73.95 to $349.95.
Ask the Experts
Q: Does coffee made in an automatic pour-over coffee maker taste the same as manual pour-over coffee?
Automatic pour-over machines were invented to attempt to replicate the manual pour-over experience. Automatic machines that offer water temperature control and consistency, as well as even saturation of coffee grounds and optimal brew times, will allow for the closest resemblance between the two methods.
Q: What is the best coffee grind to use with an automatic pour-over coffee maker?
Each machine will have its own guidelines for grind size, and your grinder will, as well. In general, the grind size should be coarser than for manual pour-over and finer than for French press.
Q: Should I choose a thermal carafe or a glass carafe?
The advantage of a thermal carafe is that it keeps your coffee warmer longer. The downside is that you can’t see the coffee, which is a pleasure of its own.
The newest generation of automatic pour-over coffee makers is better than ever, and there are many options on the market for achieving your top priorities, from low-budget to high-design. All the machines here result in high-quality coffee, and the one that rises to the top in terms of value, ease of use, cup quality, and design is the Ratio 6.
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