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There’s a more personal touch to brewing coffee with a non-electric device. From a Chemex to a French press, every step in the coffee-making process is done by hand and, like in cooking, the final result tastes like something you created.
The advantages to non-electric brewers don’t end there. They are typically more affordable than electric coffee makers and more compact, many small enough to store in cupboards rather than leaving on the countertop. Some have unique, eye-catching designs, others are portable for hiking and traveling. Drawbacks often include a smaller capacity, added effort in both brewing and clean-up, and that many items require different grind sizes.
This list covers a range of options for all kinds of coffee lovers. Here are the best non-electric coffee makers to buy.
Elegant and easy to use, Chemex has been one of the most popular and effective non-electric coffee makers for decades. You can purchase them anywhere from your local coffeehouse to big-name retailers—just look for the trademark hourglass shape and eye-catching wooden collar.
Not only is the Classic Chemex 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 than those pour-over brewers that only make one or two cups at a time. Simply place the paper filter inside the Chemex, scoop in your grounds, and pour the hot water. The whole process takes just a few minutes. For gravity-fed coffee makers like the Chemex, Allie Caran, the Director of Education at Partners Coffee, recommends using medium-sized ground coffee to unlock the most flavor. And, as always, try to get the boiling water to between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Be careful with the Chemex's very breakable glass, but enjoy the rich coffee every morning, as well as how lovely the item looks on your table.
Not the type to beleaguer your pour-over technique? Hario has the perfect solution: this drip cone will make it "rain" on your coffee, taking all the guesswork and fuss out of brewing a great cup of joe. Customers give the item glowing reviews for its ease of use, as well as for its durability and value for money. You can purchase the Hario V60 in a number of materials, including glass and plastic, but the elegant ceramic model tends to be the most popular. And since the product is roughly the size of a coffee mug, it's incredibly easy to store and can even accompany you on trips and vacations. All you need is access to hot water and your favorite coffee grounds.
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.
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 crema 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.
One drawback to non-electric coffee makers is that they typically produce less coffee per brew, but this 50-ounce Secura French press is the exception, as its capacity is on par with most drip coffee makers.
This isn't some bulk item devoid of craftsmanship though. It's made from three layers of stainless steel—an upgrade over easily breakable glass French presses—and has a cool-to-touch handle and knob, so you can grab and pour as soon as the coffee is ready. The double-wall insulation will retains your coffee's heat longer, which is an especially great feature considering the amount of coffee you'll be brewing. All parts are dishwasher safe.
Customers give the Secura French press overwhelmingly positive reviews, with the vast majority giving it five stars. Praise ranges from the item's durability, to the way it looks on the counter, to the delicious coffee it consistently brews.
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.
If cold brew and iced coffee are your thing then a designated maker that doesn't need electricity is a great option for when you want to brew a cold cup. This top-rated product from Takeya makes four cups of coffee in its airtight, leakproof lid. It's BPA-free and dishwasher safe and fits conveniently on most refrigerator doors.
To make the coffee, you'll add grinds to the top and pour filtered water over. Next, let the pitcher sit in your fridge overnight or 36-hours and you'll be left with smooth tasting brew that has less acid than traditional blends. Try this easy-to-use coffee maker and you'll be making delicious cold-brew for less.
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.