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Pourover vs. Automatic Coffee Makers

The difference between pourover and automatic coffee makers isn't that dramatic, but the way they work does make a big difference in how their coffee is brewed.

A pourover coffee maker is not usually found in the home, though there are a few models intended for kitchen use. It's mostly a commercial or industrial type of coffee brewer where you need to brew an entire pot of coffee very quickly. The basic idea is that the water is kept constantly hot, and then an entire pot's worth of flushed over the coffee grounds at once (rather than waiting for the drip by drip). The speed is appealing, which is why retail establishments favor the system but the coffee can be weaker than drip coffee because the water moves through the grounds too fast for good flavor extraction. You can compensate for this by using a bolder flavored coffee with a dark roast in the first place.

Even so, many of the more gourmet coffeeshops will stick with drip machines in order to produce a stronger cup of coffee. This is usually the reason for the longer wait times. Because the machine keeps a pot of water hot at all times, it will use up more power than a drip brewer that only heats water when it's been activated to start a brew cycle. One nice aspect of this, is that you can easily grab a pot of hot water for making tea or hot chocolate without having to get out a separate machine or hot water kettle. In a home setting, it may also be a bit hazardous to have a pot of scalding water just sitting there all day long (especially in households with children). The volume and speed of the pourover system is ideal for a restaurant, but may be overkill for the home coffee drinker.

Do you really need a full pot of coffee in under 3 minutes? If you need that speed, or just hate waiting, there is a pourover coffee maker designed for home use though it's not that different than the commercial-quality machines. The commercial machines are quite a bit more expensive than most home brewers, and may have 2 or 3 separate hot plates for keeping multiple pots of coffee warm at all times. That's usually more than a household needs to worry about. The pourover machine was invented by George Bunn, of the Bunn-O-Matic Corporation and Bunn is still the leading manufacturer of these machines, and of commercial coffee makers in general.


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