Simpler and more hands-on ways to make a great cup of gourmet coffee.

A pair of French presses, or press pots.Hands on coffee making with a French press.

One of the strange things about the world of coffee makers is that spending more on a brewer doesn’t mean you’ll get better coffee.

For example, a $20 filter cone system will make just as good a cup of coffee as a $200 single serve brewer. Arguably, the coffee will be even better.

So why do people spend so much on their coffee machines? Part of the reason is that single serve brewers make everything easy. Just drop in a K-Cup, capsule or pod, press the brew button, and you’re done.


Also, people do like to show off their gadgets. Many of us have something of an addiction to new technology. We keep buying new smartphones, new flat-screen TVs and, yes, new coffee makers.

But for lovers of simplicity, there are a number of ways to make a great cup of coffee that are decidedly low-tech and hands-on.

In addition, when you walk away from the single-serve systems, each cup of coffee you make will cost you about half the price. Yes, there is a big cost premium when you brew your coffee with those fancy single-serve systems.

Here are some of the simpler brewing systems, and accessories, you might want to try.

A simple Filter Cone

Hario Dripper filter coneThe Hario Dripper filter cone and glass mug.

When you watch coffee professionals making coffee, more often than not you’ll see them using the humble filter cone system. Why? Because it gives you total control over the brewing process.

Get the water to the exact right temperature. Make sure you get the right extraction from all the coffee grinds in the filter, and control the timing of the brew.

Super simple, and the least expensive coffee maker you’ll ever own.

Buy locally, or get the Hario Coffee Dripper V60 at

For most of the benefits of a filter cone, but with a little less hard work, check out our review of the Clever Dripper.

hario pourover kettle

The Hario Kettle

If you are going to get serious about using your filter cone, you’ll want a decent kettle. In particular, you want a kettle which allows total control of the flow and direction of the water.

Watch a pro use a kettle with a filter cone, and you’ll see how carefully they pour the water, to ensure the best extraction from all of the coffee.

Perhaps the best known of all kettles, designed specifically for coffee lovers, is the Hario Kettle, with its unique body and spout design.

Buy locally,or get the Hario V60 Coffee Drip Kettle at


hario drip pot

The Hario Drip Pot

The Hario Drip Pot is an alternative to the filter cone method. The filter is made from cloth, and reusable. The pot is made from glass, and has a wooden collar so you can pour your coffee without burning your fingers on the hot glass.

This is a two cup brewer, so perfect if you are brewing for two.

Also, like the filter cone, this is a very hands-on way to make coffee. So if you like the idea of being in touch with the brewing process, this might be for you.

Personally, I like to feel that I am hands-on with my coffee, rather than just throwing everything into a shiny plastic machine and pressing a button or two.

Buy locally or get the Hario Drip Pot at

bialetti stove top brewer

The Bialetti Stove Top Brewer

No kettle is required for this brewer. The water goes into the bottom half, the final brew is poured from the top half, and a permanent metal filter basket which holds the ground coffee is sandwiched between the two.

This is one of my own favorites, because I really like the rich, deep dark coffee it brews. And I also enjoy the hands-on experience of feeling I have a part to play in making the coffee, and it’s not all automated by a machine.

Buy locally or get the Bialetti KITTY at

hario manual coffee grinder

The Hario Manual Coffee Mill

If you are going to use any of these systems to make one or two cups of coffee at a time, and you like the hands-on aspect of making coffee, then you might want to consider a manual coffee mill.

That’s right, no power electricity required. Just add the roasted coffee beans and turn the grinding handle by hand.

This model features ceramic conical burrs and is adjustable for different grinds – from course to fine and in between.

Buy locally or get the Hario Coffee Hand Grinder Skerton at

About the author: Nick Usborne, aka Coffee Detective, is a writer and long-time coffee enthusiast. Read more…

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