Who says you need to be plugged in to make a perfect cup of coffee? Before electric home brewers like Mr. Coffee machines were released in the mid- to late-20th century, the vast majority of coffee was made by hand, on stovetops or with hot water and some carefully calibrated pouring. You can still get a fantastic quality cup of coffee without flipping switches: We've rounded up the best non-electric brewers on the market. Just add ground coffee and hot water.
01 of 08
The first paper filter was invented in Germany in 1908 by a woman named Melitta Benz, and you've probably heard of the pour-over brewer that still carries her name—the brand that launched a thousand imitations, competitors, and innovations on manual home-brewing by pour-over. Kalita, a Japanese company whose name is a subtle nod to Mrs. Benz, has taken the dripper filter to the next level with its design, marrying a slow drain of water through coffee, a flat bed brewing style for even... extraction, and filters that encourage easy-breezy brewing.
Unlike most other at-home cone brewers, which come to a point and drain through one single hole, the Kalita is designed to allow a reservoir of water to build up on top of a flat, uniform bed of coffee grounds, draining through three holes rather than one into the cup or serving vessel. This creates a much more forgiving brew process, and honestly results in some of the best coffee in the world, electric or non-electric. It can be difficult to change your water-pouring habits to suit the Kalita, if you're used to using a more standard brewer (like a Melitta or a Hario dripper), but the effort is well worth it.
02 of 08
Not the type to belabor your pour-over technique? OXO has the perfect solution for you: The company has figured out a way to literally make it "rain" on your coffee, which takes all the guesswork and fuss out of brewing a great cup of pour-over coffee. This pour-over maker comes with an additional and optional water tank or "Rain Maker," an attachment that sits on top of the cone-shaped coffee brewer and makes your morning ritual that much more foolproof.
Rather than pouring hot... water meticulously over coffee grounds in a filter, you can actually dump the whole brew's worth of water into the water tank, whose bottom holes will control the flow rate and dispersion of water consistently and patiently over the coffee. No more standing around agonizing about your technique: Just set it, pour it, and forget it—until you're ready to drink the coffee, anyway.
03 of 08
This is a classic style French press, first made in the 1950s. It has a glass carafe, a shiny chrome-plated stainless steel frame, and a matte-black polypropylene handle that’s easy to hold. The carafe holds 34 ounces, which of course includes space for grounds. The eight “cup” serving size refers to 4-ounce coffee cups, so if you drink from a larger cup or mug, you can make 2-3 servings of coffee with one pressing.
The three-part filter is designed to let aromatic oils and flavors flow through... while fine grinds and sediment stay behind. All parts are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. The press is made in Portugal.
Take a look at other product reviews and shop for the best french press coffee makers available online.
04 of 08
True "nonelectric" espresso machines range from the very expensive to the very complicated to the very silly, but the old Italian home-brew standby remains a reliable classic. Most Italians would tell you that they don't bother making espresso at home, but they do love a strong, thick, bittersweet coffee from a moka pot, and Bialetti is the first and last name when it comes to the equipment. While you won't get the thick head of creme that is often a hallmark of a fine espresso... shot, you can certainly whip up a small batch of very strong coffee in a flash with one of these brewers, and the resulting cup can be concentrated enough to drink straight, build up with warm textured milk, or diluted with hot water, Americano style.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Elegant, easy to use, and efficient for a crowd, the 8-cup classic Chemex is a dinner-party favorite. Not only is it one of the most beautiful coffee makers on the market—and a permanent feature of the design collection at New York City's Museum of Modern Art—but it's also less fussy and meticulous than the geeky pour-over brewers you see that make one or two cups at a time. Rather than pour a slow, steady stream of hot water into the grounds here, the filter is designed to take a larger... load of water at a time, making the 4- or 5-minute process simplified and foolproof. Be careful with the very breakable glass, but enjoy the lovely equipment on a table at the most laid-back or formal get-togethers.
06 of 08
Coffee geeks, outdoorsy types, and one-cup-a-day folks alike love the convenience and versatility of the AeroPress, a hand-pressure-powered coffee brewer that can make either one small regular-strength coffee, or a more concentrated "espresso-like" beverage that can be diluted with water or milk. Countless variations on recipe and techniques can be found all over the Internet (look up the winning approach taken at the World AeroPress Championships for a real doozy of a brew), but simply... speaking the little maker and its proprietary paper filters make a clean, quick coffee that's just the right size for one. The plastic isn't great for heat retention, and cleaning can be a pain, but these little presses pack a lot of bang for the buck, and fit neatly in a drawer, on a counter, or in a carry-on suitcase.
07 of 08
Go old school while you're out in the back country, by bringing along a classic ibrik, or the traditional Turkish or Arabic brewer, used for centuries since the first commercial cultivation of coffee in Yemen in the 16th century. These little brewers are sturdy, can stand the heat on an open flame or small travel burner, and make a brew thick enough to ward off chilly mornings before a hike. Bring along finely ground (think: pulverized) coffee, and simply add the grounds to very gently... boiling water in the brewer: Once the brew begins to froth, remove it from the heat until it settles, then place it back on the heat to repeat the process: After three very gentle boils, you've got yourself a hair-on-your-chest-making Turkish-style brew; pour it slowly into small cups to leave as much of the silty grounds as possible in the pot.
While the lack of a filter makes this coffee heavier and even somewhat grittier than standard brews, you can't beat the one-pot brewing or the fact that the ibrik is strong enough to take a beating. Rinse it out and throw it in your knapsack, and you're ready to trek up that mountain.
08 of 08
Siphon brewers are high on coffee theater. And they've earned a reputation for being difficult to use with the effort not living up to the end result. Not so with a classic model like this Yama 8-cup brewer, which is a fantastic option for a larger capacity brew without having to master the pour-over that a Chemex requires.
Hot water in the bottom chamber creates a vacuum that sends the brew liquid to the top, where it mixes with coffee grounds for an extraction before being drawn back down... through a thick filter and back into the bottom vessel for pouring and serving. The filter helps keep the finished coffee incredibly clear, and the high-temperature and slight pressurization in the extraction emphasizes clarity of flavor like few other brewers. Where most glass stovetop brewers are delicate and can be somewhat dangerous, the Yama siphon is made of heat-resistant borosilicate glass, and it's even dishwasher safe. The brewer comes with a wire grid, which makes it adaptable for electric stoves as well as gas.
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