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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 even 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. This list covers a range of options for all kinds of coffee lovers.
Here are the best non-electric coffee makers to buy.
Best Overall: Chemex Pour-Over Glass Coffeemaker - Classic Series
Produces rich, flavorful coffee
Looks great on the counter
Chemex Bonded Filters are specifically recommended
Glass can break
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.
Best Drip Cone: Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper
Requires special paper filters
A lot of effort for one cup
Not the type to beleaguer your pour-over technique? Hario has the 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.
Best French Press: Bodum CHAMBORD French Press Coffee Maker
Broad range of sizes and finishes
Plunger can be wobbly
Some grounds in mug
Frame around carafe slips slightly
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.
Best Cold Brew: Takeya Patented Deluxe Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker
Airtight lid prevents leakage
Easy to use and clean
Not the strongest flavor
If cold brew and iced coffee are your thing, a non-electric brewer electricity is a great option for when you want 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.
Best Espresso Maker: Flair Signature Espresso Maker
Cleaning after each use (hand-wash only)
Similar price as electric espresso makers
The Flair Classic Espresso Maker is one of the most beautifully designed coffee gadgets you'll ever see. It's sleek, unique, and available in multiple colorways. And the best part: it pulls a delicious shot of espresso.
To use, pack the filter with ground espresso, pour hot water over the brew head, and pull the lever until the rich beverage fills your cup. It might take some trial and error, but users say the coffee is strong and topped with a frothy crema. The recommended ratio is roughly 18 grams of coffee to 60 milliliters of water.
One drawback is that the item is fairly time consuming, both in brewing and clean-up, but the resulting espresso beats out other non-electric options. Another aspect worth consideration is the price; for what the Flair Espresso Maker costs, you could also find a reliable electric espresso machine. As a result, this option might be best for die-hard coffee lovers rather than those looking for quick-and-easy espresso.
Best Large Capacity: Secura Stainless Steel French Press Coffee Maker
One-hour heat retention
Can't see coffee level
Scratching sound when pressing plunger
One drawback to non-electric coffee makers is that they typically produce less coffee per brew, but this French press from Secura is the exception, as its available in multiple sizes all the way up to 50 ounces.
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.
Best Single Serve: AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker
Fast brewing (2 minutes)
Easy to clean
Small capacity (8 ounces)
Coffee lovers, outdoorsy types, and one-cup-a-day folks can all appreciate the convenience and rich brewing 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.
"For a small investment, you get high-quality coffee, easy cleanup, and a travel companion in return." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Best Stovetop: Bialetti Moka Express
Available in multiple sizes
Easy to use
Great budget option
Clean after every use (hand-wash only)
Not real espresso
The Bialetti Moka Express is a classic stovetop device that produces rich, concentrated coffee, close to espresso. 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 strong coffee in a flash with one of these brewers and make a variety of other drinks. Thin the coffee with hot water for an Americano or pour the rich shot into frothed milk for a latte or cappuccino.
Moka pots only take a few minutes to brew, but they need to be cleaned after each use and, unfortunately, are not dishwasher safe. On the plus side, you can find the item in a variety of sizes, all of which are extremely affordable. And it's small enough to store in a cupboard when you're done using it.
The Chemex (view at Amazon) is a timeless brewing device and a great place to start if you're new to non-electric coffee makers. It's easy to use, looks great in the kitchen, and makes a delicious cup of joe. Those interested in a budget-friendly alternative should check out the compact and highly reviewed Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in a Non-Electric Coffee Maker
There are many kinds of non-electric coffee makers, each with their 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, like cold brew makers, stovetop percolators, and even non-electric espresso makers.
Ease of Use
Are you looking for a coffee maker that's extremely easy to use? Or are you open to using more elaborate devices? Non-electric coffee makers often require a little more elbow grease when brewing and cleaning up afterward, 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 brew makers, for instance, work better with coarse-ground coffee, which is a bit harder to find pre-ground in stores.
One of the many great reasons to buy non-electric coffee makers is that they are typically cheaper than electric brewers. There are certainly expensive non-electric devices out there, but you can usually find budget options in any category, from French press to pour over. Just know that serving capacities are smaller than that of electric devices.
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 grounds. Luckily, it’s easy to find 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 own a French press or cold brew coffee maker and are routinely drinking bland, watery coffee, make sure you are letting the coffee steep long enough: at least four minutes for a French press and 12 to 24 hours for cold brew. Finally, coffee makers that use filters—namely, pour-overs and Chemex coffee makers—often yield a weak brew when the coffee grounds are too coarse.
What grind size should I use?
Understanding what size coffee grounds to use for your specific brewing device is essential in producing the best flavor. Grind sizes range from extra coarse to extra fine with lots of room in between. The most common non-electric brewers that use coarse-ground beans are French presses and cold brew coffee makers. Pour-overs and AeroPresses use a standard medium grind, while Chemex coffee makers require a medium-coarse grind. Popular fine-grind brewers include espresso makers and moka pots. Lastly, Turkish coffee—made with an ibrik or cezve—needs an extremely fine grind to achieve its signature bold flavor.
What is immersion brewing?
This is a brewing process where coffee grounds soak directly in water, rather than water being poured through the grounds like with drip coffee. French presses, AeroPresses, and cold brew coffee makers are all immersion brewers. The process can take anywhere from a couple minutes to several hours. It typically produces richer coffee with a more noticeable mouthfeel.
What are must-have accessories for a non-electric coffee maker?
One useful accessory for all brewing devices (aside from pod-based coffee makers) is a reliable coffee grinder. Coffee tastes best when the beans are ground just minutes before brewing. There are several ways to categorize coffee grinders, but the most important decision comes down to burr grinders versus blade grinders. Burr is the superior option, offering the most even and consistent grind, though it is also much more expensive. Blade grinders are a cheaper alternative that are typically less consistent and often alter the taste of coffee beans due to high rates of friction.
Another accessory that pairs especially well with non-electric coffee makers is a gooseneck kettle. Their sloped spouts offer great precision when pouring, which helps to more evenly saturate coffee grounds. Gooseneck kettles can be designed for stovetop use (typically made from stainless steel) or they can be electric. The latter is certainly more expensive but has added convenience and can include unique features like temperature control and automatic shutoff.
One last accessory worth consideration, especially for the serious coffee lover, is a coffee scale. Most people measure their coffee grounds and water in volume—scoops, cups, ounces, etc.—but the most accurate way to brew is to measure weight. Brands like Hario and OXO Good Grips make some of our favorite coffee scales.
Should paper filters be rinsed before using?
Pre-rinsing paper filters, especially cheaper ones, will lead to a purer flavor in your coffee because it removes any potential “papery” taste. In some cases, the difference is barely noticeable; in others, it’s a significant upgrade. To pre-rinse, simply pour hot water through the filter and let the water drain before scooping in your coffee grounds.
What is a coffee bloom?
Coffee bloom is a chemical reaction that occurs the moment hot water is poured over coffee grounds. The coffee instantly releases carbon dioxide, also known as “degassing.” The process of coffee blooming is a quick and easy step you can incorporate when brewing to make the end result even tastier. Whether you have a French press, Chemex, drip cone, or other non-electric brewer, all you have to do is pour a small amount of hot water over the grounds until they are evenly saturated and then allow them to bubble and rise (or “bloom”) for around 30 seconds before pouring the rest of the water. Carbon dioxide can give coffee a sour taste, and it also acts as a barrier between coffee grounds and water. Purging the pent-up CO2 allows coffee grounds to extract more thoroughly and also avoids any sourness.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Erin Meister has spent years both working in and reporting on the coffee industry. Since moving 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, Rachael Ray Every Day, and more. Erin is also the author of New York City Coffee: A Caffeinated History.
This piece was edited by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of coffee products, from measuring scoops to commercial espresso machines, and interviews field experts for their insight. One non-electric brewing device he recommends is the Bialetti Moka Express, which produces rich, espresso-like coffee in just minutes.