Java purists will tell you all that's required to make outstanding coffee are fresh grounds, hot water, and a reliable filter. That's it, everything else is extra complication. In fact many of this subset swear by the most manual of brewing methods -- pour-over. Performing pour-over properly, however, takes some skill and practice. Here to help is the $16 Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over Coffee Maker, a deceptively simple yet very capable kitchen gadget.
Thanks to a clever design, the Oxo elegantly removes many stumbling blocks from the pour-over process. Yet despite the loss of a few variables, brewing coffee with the Good Grips Pour-Over remains a very hands-on experience, and one which consistently delivers excellent results.
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Brewing pour-over coffee is pretty self-explanatory process -- you'll just pour hot water over fresh coffee grounds, then wait for it to drip through a filter into a cup waiting below. As such, classic pour-over coffee brewers are pretty basic, typically consisting of just a single funnel-shaped filter holder. For this reason, they don't tend to cost very much.
For instance, a plastic Melitta cone runs for just $3 while porcelain versions cost $20. Even luxury Chemex brewers, which are crafted from premium materials such as glass and wood, start at $39. That's certainly a far cry from the multiple hundreds you'll have to sell out for a quality automatic drip machine from Bonavita, Technivorm, and Ratio.
You'll pay a premium for the Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over compared to its cheapest plastic competitors, but the unique design offsets the higher price tag. That's because Oxo helps account for one of the trickiest challenges to brewing pour over correctly: decanting the right volume of water into your brewing filter.
Other crucial factors include hitting the correct brewing time, water temperature, not to mention the even saturation of your coffee grounds. If any of these variables skews out of control, you can kiss your chances of enjoying a tasty cup of joe goodbye.
The Good Grips Pour-Over has one physical enhancement which effectively neutralizes these issues, transforming it into the best coffee gadget of its kind I've used personally. That ace in the hole is a small water reservoir which sits above its filter. Made of clear plastic and sporting graduated labels for easy measurement, the tank is durable enough to accept water just off the boil.
Once you fill it to the precise volume (6 to 10 ounces, 180 to 360 mL), water slowly drips through eight tiny holes on the bottom of the tank to wet the brewer's bed of coffee grounds. Acting more like a shower head inside electric drip brewers, the rate of hot water flow is fixed by the physical size of these apertures along with the single opening at the foot of the filter funnel.
Likewise, since Oxo recommends always brewing with water straight from a boiling kettle you don't have to fuss with thermometers or trying to hit an ideal brew temperature. Still, to ensure consistent quality I strongly suggest grinding beans the moment before brewing, weighing the coffee you intend to use, and processing them through a burr grinder to achieve a uniform grind size.
I like to drink coffee that's packed with intense flavor, and lots of it. That's why for my test cups I used the highest recommended coffee ground dose (20 grams, 0.7 ounce) at the largest brewing volume the Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over manual suggests (360 mL, 12 ounces water).
I ground my test beans (Costco Colombian Supremo) with the $200 Oxo On Conical Burr Grinder since my usual go-to grinder, the $100 Capresso Infinity, is on its last leg. Oxo's grinder also boasts an integrated scale which automatically shuts the machine off at your target weight. The grind size I selected was one notch finer than the machine's middle setting.
Not counting the time it took to heat cool water to a boil (8 minutes or so) and fill the Pour-Over's reservoir, the gadget's actual brew time lasted about 2 minutes 30 seconds (give or take 5 seconds). After, the Good Grips always supplied a beverage which was big in flavor, rich, silky smooth, and filled with luxurious depth that lingered on my tongue. Not bad at all for a bag of bargain Costco java.
Refractometer readings confirmed what I was tasting. Each of my three official test batches had high TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) percentages between 1.4 and 1.5 percent. Their extraction percentages were also tightly clustered just outside the ideal range (23, 24, 23 percent).
For the record, the SCAA (Specialty Coffee Association of America) considers a "golden cup" of coffee to have an extraction percentage between 18 and 22 percent. While certainly operating within this spread, even SCAA certified coffee makers such as the Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741 and Bonavita 1900TS weren't as consistent.
If you love delicious drip coffee, then that's an emphatic yes. The brewing performance of the $16 Oxo Good Grips Pour-Over alone, backed up by countless anecdotal batches I made, places this little coffee funnel in the same heady league as the $299 Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741 and $190 Bonavita 1900TS, both fully automatic drip machines.
I'll also wager that even experienced pour-over fans will appreciate how much easier the Good Grips is to use than other manual brewers from Melitta, Chemex, and Kalita. Of course, if you lack the patience to boil water separately or must have a massive carafe of coffee pronto (we've all been there), then the small batch size of the Good Grips Pour-Over won't cut it.