There’s a bit more to making a high-quality cup of coffee than picking out the perfect beans. There's the right water, that magic ratio of water to coffee—and the right equipment. For the past decade, baristas, both professional and aspiring, have been gravitating toward manual, single cup coffee-making methods. The biggest perk of brewing manually? Having more control over the process means that you can brew the perfect cup, regardless of what that means to you.
Whether you’re into the infusion method of coffee brewing (in which ground coffee is fully immersed and steeped in water, like tea) or percolation, more commonly called the “pour over” (in which water is continuously poured over the ground coffee), there's a manual coffee brewer guaranteed to upgrade your morning cup.
1. Hario V60
The Hario V60’s lightweight feel, ease of use, and ability to produce quality coffee have made it a mainstay in specialty cafes and home kitchens all over the world. Hario, a Tokyo-based company, launched their first home product in 1949—a glass filter coffee syphon. Since then, Hario has received a number of design awards for its products, but the V60 has become its crown jewel.
Shortened from “Vector 60”—referring to the 60 degree angle of its side—the cone-shaped Hario V60 is a dripper known for its inner coiled ridges and large open-ended bottom. It's a design that helps provide a uniform extraction, as the spiral ridges guide the water to naturally agitate and seep through the coffee.
Get it on Amazon for $19 and at these other retailers:
In From Russia, With Love (1957), Ian Fleming writes:
Breakfast was Bond's favourite meal of the day. When he was stationed in London it was always the same. It consisted of very strong coffee, from De Bry in New Oxford Street, brewed in an American Chemex, of which he drank two large cups, black and without sugar.
That’s right. One of James Bond’s favorite gadgets was no more than an ordinary household coffeemaker—the Chemex. The manual brewer utilizes the pour over method of brewing coffee, which produces coffee that is much richer, more flavorful, and smoother.
In 1941, Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, a German chemist, invented the Chemex coffeemaker. Though it was originally marketed as a useful wartime device, the brewer has since been turned into a permanent fixture at many museums and galleries, including the New York Museum of Modern Art, the Corning Museum of Glass, and even the Smithsonian. It's considered one of "the best-designed products ever made," as Inc. magazine declared in 2014.
Get it on Amazon for $41 and at these other retailers:
3. Kalita Wave
The Kalita Wave is unique in that it’s among the very few pour over devices with a flat bottom. (Most—like the aforementioned V60 and Chemex—are cone-shaped.) The Kalita Wave looks like a Hario V60 that’s been cut in half; it has the same convex opening and angled walls, but its bottom is a flat floor with three tiny holes drilled into it. This design allows for a smooth, intense extraction.
Get it on Amazon for $23.
No brewing device has captivated the coffee industry like the AeroPress. Need proof? There’s even a World AeroPress Championship. The competition functions independently of the World Barista Championship and Brewers Cup, a distinction that no other brewing device can claim.
Invented in 2005 by Alan Adler, the AeroPress was designed to create the strongest, smoothest, most flavorful cup of coffee in the shortest amount of time (about one minute, according to its inventor). The device uses the saturation method of brewing, in which grounds are fully steeped in water inside a plastic cylindrical container. A plunger is then inserted into the top of the chamber, creating a vacuum. Then, the user presses down on the plunger, using air pressure within the device to compress the extracted coffee through a mesh filter.
The AeroPress is most similar to a French press, however, it shouldn’t be confused for one. There are a few big differences between the two devices. First, the AeroPress uses a disposable paper filter (or a reusable stainless steel mesh filter), which removes most of the coffee solids. A French press, on the other hand, uses a coarse wire or nylon mesh filter. Secondly, air pressure is used to extract the coffee by pushing air trapped in the chamber through the coffee grounds. With the French press, the mesh filter acts as a plunger that pushes the ground coffee through the water. Last, the AeroPress requires a much shorter brewing time and produces a much cleaner cup of coffee (free of the sediment that French presses are notorious for).
Get it on Amazon for $32 and at these other retailers:
5. Siphon Filter
It may look like something straight out of the laboratory of a mad scientist, but the siphon filter is a popular staple in kitchens across the country. (It even made an appearance in a famous scene from the hit TV show Breaking Bad.) Besides espresso machines, siphon filters—also referred to as vacuum pots, Florence siphons, or French balloons—may be the most elaborate coffee brewers on the market. They require close attention and quick, careful technique on the part of the user, but the reward is often worth the extra effort.
How does a siphon work? In short, science. A siphon is made up of two stacked chambers—the bottom one filled with water and the top one filled with ground coffee—suspended over a heat source (usually either a Bunsen burner or stovetop). By heating the bottom chamber, pressurized vapor forces the water to rise into the upper chamber, where it is mixed with the ground coffee. After a while, a drop in vapor pressure allows gravity to take over the process, and the brewed coffee drops back into the bottom chamber through a filter that divides the two chambers.
Get it on Amazon for $73 and at these other retailers:
6. CLEVER COFFEE DRIPPER
The Clever Coffee Dripper is a cone-shaped brewer (similar to the Chemex or Hario V60) that functions like a full immersion device (such as a French press or Aeropress).
The ground coffee rests inside of the cone-shaped chamber while water is poured over it. A rubber stopper at the bottom of the chamber restrains the water from passing through, keeping it contained in the chamber. After a few minutes of saturation, the user places the dripper on top of their cup, which opens the stopper to release the now-brewed coffee into its intended container. The result is a full-bodied cup of coffee that has very little sediment and features a much richer flavor profile.
Get it on Amazon for $22 and at these other retailers: