Ceramic vs Plastic Pour Over: How Does Your Dripper Material Affect Your Coffee Drink
Introduction to Pour Over Drip Coffee
You can skip this brief introduction if you’re already familiar with the concept of pour over coffee and go straight to the ceramic vs plastic pour over comparison. Meanwhile, let’s see why it’s so popular and why you may prefer it more than a drip coffee maker.
This is one of the most common ways to make the beloved wake-up drink, and you start by pouring some ground beans into a funnel with a filter in it and a small opening at the bottom that is placed over a cup or a decanter (if you want to make more than one dosage in one go). You then pour hot water over it and let it run through the mass, hence the name of the method. The finished product of your efforts will then slowly drip through the hole, hence the name of this coffee type.
Now, the machines basically use the same method, forcefully pushing hot water through ground coffee. This results in a much faster process and a higher temperature of the drink in the cup. So, why use a manual ceramic pour over coffee maker (or plastic one)? Well, it’s considerably cheaper, takes less space than even the smallest coffee maker. Many people also prefer it for the joy of making coffee that way and because they may not need all the additional options that come with an electric appliance. If any of those arguments appeal to you, please proceed to our detailed comparison of the manual funnel types.
Plastic vs. Ceramic: What’s the Difference?
When you make a decision in favor of a manual dripper, you will come to another common dilemma, whether to buy a plastic or ceramic one. The debate doesn’t stop, and both options are quite popular, so let’s get to the bottom of this rivalry.
There are a number of differences, and knowing them will arm you with all the knowledge to make the final call.
In a nutshell, pour over ceramic units are believed to be safer in terms of chemical composition, more aesthetically pleasing, and provide a better-tasting coffee. At the same time, they are more fragile and often costlier.
The adepts of plastic funnels praise those for better heat distribution, robustness, and a lower price. Some people, however, claim that they give coffee a plastic flavor, but that usually depends on personal sensitivity and the specific model of a coffee maker.
There are several brands that have made their names a synonym of coffee drippers, and you should consider those if you want to get the best quality and minimizing the common concerns. So, look towards Melitta for one of the most convenient plastic pour over drippers, and Hario offers a wide range of units of various materials and sizes. Speaking of which, you can get single-cup models, or ones that will contain enough coffee for 2, 4, or up to 10 people.
While pour over drippers are already cheaper than electric coffee machines, there’s a considerable price difference even within this category, mostly based on the capacity and material used. Let’s compare the prices of some of the most popular brands, focusing on single-serving models for this purpose.
Hario’s famed V60 product range will be the most illustrative example. A single-cup plastic dripper’s average cost is $8, while the same ceramic version of the same size and design comes at about $21. If you don’t feel the difference in taste or even prefer the plastic option, there’s obviously no need to overpay.
Heat Resistance & Thermal Mass
When you settle on a manual coffee dripper, you may not want to take extra steps necessary for a specific material. We are talking about preheating required by ceramic coffee pour over brewers if you want to avoid them taking away the heat that could go into your coffee.
A plastic version of the same dripper will require no such step and will result in faster completion of the drink. Plastic drippers also don’t take as much heat, and they retain temperature for a longer time.
There is a concern that plastic cones get affected by heat and may be dangerous for that reason, but the top manufacturers of this product use materials with high heat resistance, making sure no unwanted chemical processes take place.
Breakability & Durability
Here is yet another aspect where ceramic scores fewer points. Although being quite durable if used carefully, it is clearly more fragile. If you have kids who tend to knock things over or feel clumsy yourself, you wouldn’t want to constantly fear dropping it. The dripper is more than likely to break, and there’s a chance it will damage something else, hitting it with its glasslike body.
A pour over coffee plastic dripper, however, deserves more trust and raises no concerns of being broken when dropped to the floor. From a regular table height, we mean. If hit hard enough or with enough pressure applied, it can break too, of course. Such instances don’t seem to have a high probability, though. So, by paying less, you may actually get a more lasting coffee maker that will bring you both joy by providing you with your favorite drink and peace of mind by not having to worry about it getting smashed to pieces.
There are several points that can be brought up in relation to usability. The first one comes from the previous aspect we have covered, which is the ceramic’s tendency to break easily upon impact. So, if you plan to travel often and want to take a dripper with you, you would have to pack it really well to make sure it stays intact. Or you can just get a plastic pour over coffee maker and not fret about it getting cracked when your bag gets some unexpected hard treatment.
Another advantage that seems to be more common and better realized in plastic drippers is the convenient opening near the bottom which allows you to see how much coffee has already dripped into the cup. This may be particularly useful when the cup is not transparent or when making coffee for several people. Otherwise, you may have to learn how much ground coffee and water you need to avoid spillage. As for brewing, there’s no difference other than the necessity to preheat a ceramic model we have already mentioned.
While we are focusing only on two wide-spread materials in this comparison article, we have to mention there are other options. Glass and porcelain are similar to ceramic in the purity of taste they provide. They are also more costly options but also just as fragile and less heat-resistant than a plastic pour over coffee-making alternative.
Steel cones are, of course, very durable and are not easy to break. Copper will make the dripper lighter and more suitable for travel, but like any open metal container, it doesn’t do a good job at retaining heat.
So, it may seem like we have a definite winner in this pour over ceramic vs plastic competition, and it’s the latter. After all, plastic is more resistant to breaking, which can result in its longer life. This same aspect also makes it a better option for traveling, not to mention that it weighs less than a ceramic version with the same dimensions. And when that is a decisive moment, you don’t want to deprive yourself of a chance to have delicious drip coffee while away from home.
When it comes to heat resistance and anything temperature-related, plastic materials also perform notably better. That can be a breakaway point when you like your coffee really hot, especially if you have more than one person to serve. Finally, plastic brewers cost twice less on average, and so there’s a logical question in the air, “Why pay more if there’s no real advantage provided by pour over coffee maker ceramic qualities?”
Well, for people who can vouch that coffee made with a ceramic cone is tastier, richer in flavor, and simply purer, those are all the arguments they need to avoid plastic substitutes. Besides, if you are also going after a certain aesthetic, you may find ceramic models to fit your vision better. And if you don’t expect to be breaking your dripper all the time, the price is still quite affordable to try it. After all, all those aspects we have mentioned as disadvantages may not matter to you, but it’s good enough that you are now aware of them.
Why should you use plastic and not glass for pour over ice coffee?You shouldn’t. But if you already have a plastic dripper for hot coffee, you can use it safely without getting a glass one specifically for that purpose.
How to use ceramic pour over coffee with reusable filter?The filter is placed on top of the cone, after which the measured amount of coffee is put inside. It’s preferable to wet it a bit and wait for 15-30 seconds before starting to slowly pour the rest of the hot water.
How to use a ceramic pour over filter for coffee?Make sure the water flows freely through the filter, then follow the same procedure as with paper filters. It’s advisable to use coffee beans of a medium or medium-coarse grind.
Founder and owner of Lion Coffee and 3ChampsRoastery, 1st place winner of Ukrainian Barista Championship 2017. Interested in travelling, football and Formula-1 (besides coffee, of course).