We Tested the Best Non-electric Coffee Makers—Here Are Our Top Picks

how we test

The coffee makers featured in this article were tested by our expert food writers. they spent weeks testing the items to see how they performed in daily use. after the test, our writers sent feedback on what they liked and what they didn’t like. They also rated each brewing device on its ease of use, ease of cleaning, heat-up time, and brew quality, among other areas.

what to look for in a non-electric coffee maker

type

There are many types of non-electric coffee makers, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. figuring out the type you want is the best place to start narrowing down your options. Two of the most popular categories are French presses and pour-overs, but there are certainly many more to consider, such as cold brew coffee makers, stovetop coffee makers, and even non-electric espresso machines.

Reading: Best manual coffee makers

fir eats / jordan provost

ease of use

Are you looking for a coffee maker that is extremely easy to use? Or are you open to using more elaborate devices? non-electric coffee makers often require a little more effort to brew and clean up afterwards, but it can be worth it in the end for delicious coffee. Also related to this consideration is knowing what grind size is best for your device. French presses and cold brewers, for example, work best with coarse ground coffee, which is a bit harder to find pre-ground in stores.

price

One of the many good reasons to buy non-electric coffee makers is that they are often cheaper than electric ones. There are certainly expensive non-electric devices out there, but you can usually find inexpensive options in any category from French press to pour over. just know that the service capabilities are smaller than those of electrical devices.

frequently asked questions

why is my coffee weak?

Weak coffee can have several different causes. one of the most common, regardless of brewing device, is simply not using enough coffee beans. Fortunately, it’s easy to find the proper coffee-to-water ratios for all styles of coffee makers online or, occasionally, in instruction manuals. Another common reason for weak coffee is using water that is too cold; coffee grounds are best extracted with water that is between 195 and 205 degrees. If you have a French press or cold brew coffeemaker and you regularly drink weak, watery coffee, be sure to let your coffee steep long enough: at least four minutes for a French press and 12 to 24 hours for a cold brew. Finally, coffee makers that use filters, i.e. pour-over and chemex coffee makers, often produce a weak brew when the grounds are too coarse.

what grind size should I use?

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Understanding which size of grind to use for your specific brewing device is essential to producing the best flavor. grind sizes range from extra coarse to extra fine with plenty of room in between. The most common non-electric coffeemakers that use coarse ground coffee beans are French presses and cold brew coffeemakers. pour-overs and airpresses use a standard medium grind, while chemex brewers require a medium-coarse grind. Popular fine-grind coffeemakers include espresso machines and moka pots. Lastly, Turkish coffee, made with ibrik or cezve, needs an extremely fine grind to achieve its distinctive bold flavor.

fir eats / derek rose

what is dip brewing?

This is a brewing process where the coffee grounds are directly immersed in water, rather than pouring water through the grounds as in the case of filter coffee. French presses, air presses, and cold brew coffeemakers are immersion coffeemakers. the process can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to several hours. typically produces a richer coffee with a more noticeable mouthfeel.

what are the essential accessories for a non-electric coffee maker?

A useful accessory for all brewing devices (apart from pod coffee machines) is a reliable coffee grinder. coffee tastes best when the beans are ground a few minutes before brewing. There are several ways to categorize coffee grinders, but the biggest decision comes down to burr grinders versus blade grinders. burr is the superior option, offering the most even and consistent grind, although it is also much more expensive. Blade grinders are a cheaper alternative that are typically less consistent and often alter the flavor of the coffee beans due to high rates of friction.

Another accessory that pairs especially well with non-electric coffeemakers is a gooseneck kettle. its slanted spouts offer great precision when pouring, helping to saturate the grounds more evenly. gooseneck kettles can be designed for stovetop use (usually made of stainless steel) or can be electric. the latter is certainly more expensive but has more convenience and may include unique features like temperature control and auto shut-off.

One last accessory worth considering, especially for serious coffee lovers, is a coffee scale. Most people measure the volume of ground coffee and water (tablespoons, cups, ounces, etc.), but the most accurate way to prepare it is by measuring weight. Brands like Hario and Oxo Good Grips make some of our favorite coffee scales. “Whatever you already have in your house should be enough to make a good cup of coffee,” says Nigel Price, founder and owner of Drip Coffee Makers. “But in terms of consistency, a scale helps you dose the right amount of ground coffee every time. I’ve seen recipes that use tablespoons, but even if you use the same number of tablespoons, the number of grams can really vary.”

Do paper filters need to be rinsed before use?

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Pre-rinsing paper filters, especially the cheaper ones, will result in a purer flavor in your coffee because it removes any possible “paper” flavor. in some cases, the difference is barely noticeable; in others, it is a significant improvement. To pre-rinse, simply pour hot water through the filter and allow the water to drain before scooping out the coffee grounds.

what is a coffee bloom?

Coffee blooming is a chemical reaction that occurs the moment hot water is poured over coffee grounds. coffee instantly releases carbon dioxide, also known as “degassing.” the coffee flowering process is a quick and easy step that you can incorporate when brewing to make the end result even more flavorful. Whether you have a French press, chemex, drip cone, or other non-electric coffee maker, all you have to do is pour a small amount of hot water over the grounds until they’re evenly saturated, then allow them to bubble and rise (or “bloom”) for about 30 seconds before pouring in the rest of the water. carbon dioxide can give coffee a sour taste and also acts as a barrier between the coffee grounds and the water. purging accumulated co2 allows the ground coffee to be extracted more thoroughly and also prevents acidity.

why trust the spruce eats?

Erin Meister has spent years working and reporting on the coffee industry. since she moved to new york city in 2003, she has worked at joe coffee company and counter culture coffee. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe Serious Eats, Rachel Ray Every Day, and more. Ella Erin Ella is also the author of “New York City Coffee: A Caffeinated Story.”

this piece was updated by derek rose, the coffee and tea expert at spruce eats. He researches a variety of coffee products, from measuring spoons to commercial espresso machines, and interviews experts in the field to get his opinion. One non-electric brewing device he recommends is the Bialetti Moka Express, which produces rich, espresso-like coffee in just minutes.

fonts

nigel price, the founder and owner of drip coffee makers in new york city, was interviewed for this article. Nigel has worked in the coffee industry for over a decade. Established in 2015, the drip now has multiple locations.

allie caran, product manager at baristavalet, was also a source for this article. allie has been in the coffee industry for over 15 years. baristavalet is a delivery service that partners with more than a dozen roasters to deliver ready-to-drink coffee to her doorstep.

See also: How Many Ounces Do Standard Coffee Cup Sizes Hold?

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