First thing first, the name of this contraption on its Amazon listing is impressively long: “OXO Good Grips Single Serve Pour Over Coffee Dripper with Auto-Drip Water Tank.” The box mine came in called it the “OXO Good Grips Pour-Over Coffee Maker with Water Tank 12oz.” (Note the hyphen on pour-over, and the the switch to “coffee maker.”) In either case, the primary innovation of it is the water tank, which is a small clear plastic cup-like thing with some holes in the bottom which drip water out at a reasonable pace calibrated for a good cup of pour over coffee.
This device can be found on Amazon for $15.99 (USD) at the time of my writing this. So the question: is this worth it? Does it make good coffee in a useful way, or is it just another gimmick to steal your money. (And, full disclosure: we were given ours for free at Coffee Fest Denver by some OXO folks.)
What is pour-over coffee?
In general parlance, “pour over” coffee is just any coffee that is produced by a human pouring water through coffee grounds. This can be anything from a fancier Hario V60 or Kalita Wave, to a basic single-hole pour over coffee drippers that’s widely standardized and sold many places with many different brand names.
The process of gravity-drawn water extracting flavor from coffee grounds is quite old and common. All drip coffee machines are similar in that they’re also gravity-based and have the water pass through the beans. In general, pour over has an “artisanal” quality to it, because its a form most done by people who care about their coffee. But that’s not universal. Some pour over is just make my people who like their coffee “brown” or “black” and “caffeinated.”
How does pour over compare to a coffee machine?
The big advantage of a coffee machine–I always think of the “Mr Coffee” brand here, but there are so many from so many brands—is their convenience. Pour in grounds and water, flip a switch, come back in a few minutes and get coffee. This is a great feature.
So while the machines have downsides—water temperature is usually poorly controlled, flow rate and position over the grounds is often imperfect—the convenience is key. Pour over coffee, made artisinally, is generally a five to fifteen minute procedure. That’s a much greater time commitment than a Mr Coffee. Although, it is also often a better and more uniform cup.
Inconvenient Factors of Pour Over (Traditional)
Traditional pour over is simply a trade-off. It takes more time but the result is better. The time is real though. You’re sitting there occupied for a while making it. Or waiting, if you’re having someone else do it for you. If you’re in a hurry, 15 minutes can feel like an eternity.
That’s where the OXO Auto-Dripper comes in. The idea is that you’re getting better results than a Mr Coffee, but for much less of a time commitment. Because the most time-consuming part of brewing pour over coffee is usually pouring in water in 25-150 gram doses, the brewing reservoir of the OXO Auto-Drip just takes your whole volume (up to 360mL, or 12oz) and drip it while you take a shower.
What is the OXO Good Grips Pour Over Auto-Dripper?
By now, I hope you’re pretty clear. Pour over is great because it’s controlled. Conventional coffee machines (Mr Coffee et al) are great because you set it and forget it. The OXO Good Grips Single Serve Pour Over Coffee Dripper with Auto-Drip Water Tank is great because you can get some of the benefits of a fancier pour-over with the relative “set it and forget it” of a more conventional machine.
What’s in the box?
The box contains the following:
- A lid (white plastic), to cover the reservoir and can also (cleverly) be used to catch drips after you’ve brewed.
- The water tank (clear plastic), to hold and meter your water automatically. This is the coolest/rarest part of it.
- The dripper (white plastic with gray inside), to brew the coffee. This is a pretty standard “pour over dripper” design. One hole, ribs on the sides of a sort of flat-conical shape.
- 10 #2 cone filters. These are brown-paper, and just the starter kit. Fortunately #2 cone filters can be bought at just about any grocery store (at least near me).
- An instruction card, that simplifies basic brew-ratios in the user-friendly way.
Different Formats of Pour Over Drippers
The dripper that comes with the OXO Good Grips Single Serve Pour Over Coffee Dripper with Auto-Drip Water Tank is a pretty bog-standard one. I’ve seen very similar shapes to this sold is many materials (most often ceramic) and from many brands — Starbucks and Blue Bottle are two that leap immediately to mind.
The format: a cone-ish thing about the size of a coffee mug, with a single hole at the bottom of the cone about the size of a pen or pencil. It’s unlike a cone in that you’ll have a longer narrow area to support the bottom of the filter which is about 2.5″ (6cm) long.
All of that is to say: there’s nothing specific or special to me about the pour over dripper that comes with the OXO Single Serve Auto-Drip.
A Kalita Wave is different than this standard shape in that it has three smaller holes in a triangular shape alone its rather-flat bottom. The Hario V60 is different in that it has one much-bigger hole at its bottom. This one has no such features. It is plastic, and thus among the more durable of these bog-standard pour-over devices I’ve seen.
How does it work? How to Brew Coffee in the OXO Auto-Drip Pour Over system
As you might guess, very similar to other pour over mechanisms. The difference is the reservoir. But to lay it out step by step.
- Add an empty filter, folding over it bottom layer to the side, to the dripper. Filter should be open (large end flared) and fit into the dripper fairly snuggly.
- Add the ground coffee (I do a 20 on the Baratza Encore, but you do you) to the filter (which remains inside the dripper).
- Place the reservoir over the filter & coffee on the dripper plastic itself.
- Fill the reservoir on the OXO Auto-Drip with water to your desired fill-line.
- Enjoy 🙂
What’s Great About the OXO Auto-Drip Water Tank
The big thing to love about the OXO is that it lets you walk away. While writing this article I started a brew with about 75 seconds of work, wrote six paragraphs, and then went to fetch my brewed coffee. Pretty cool 🙂
Beyond that, I really like the simple directions card that OXO has put in the box. They recommend a brew-ratio of 1:18 (that’s beans vs water), and the card just has done the obvious conversions so I don’t have to. It also lays out the rather simple directions I gave above in a clear and concise set of words and illustrations.
Finally, I think the coffee I get from the brewer is solid. It’s neither the best I’ve ever had with my beans, nor the worst. (I do, to be fair, screw up my brews kind of regularly.) It’s a solid cup of coffee for a lot less time and attention than I spend on a Kalita Wave brew. What’s not to like about that?
Easy to Clean and Supply
Beyond those benefits, like I’ve come to expect from OXO (I have a fairly high affinity for the brand), it’s a thoughtful and attractively designed tool. I know that for many people OXO is synonymous with intentionally-chunky kitchen basics. Whether or not you like that aesthetic, this brewer does not have it. Instead it’s exactly what you’d expect and nothing more.
It’s all simple, light-weight, white and clear plastic. That also means that it’s dishwasher safe. And BPA free, if you worry about that kind of stuff.
And because the filters are simple #2 filters (a type used by many Mr Coffee like machines), you can buy them at just about any grocery store. Since the rest of the process is reusable and dishwasher safe, you’ll find it pretty easy to have the thing always-ready-to-brew
The Auto-Drip Reservoir Does Fit (Some) Other Brewers
This one is a little more provisional. But the dripping reservoir from OXO here also fits my Kalita Wave 185 (the bigger one) silly-well. This may be a mere coincidence. But once or twice I’ve used the reservoir to brew on the Wave with good results. I think it could also reasonably be placed atop a standard Hario V60, and certain sizes of Chemex.
Why would you use the reservoir on other brewers? Exactly the same reason you’d use it with the included kit: a reasonably good pour procedure without you having to sit there and pour. Nothing you should dismiss out of hand.
What the OXO Single Serve Pour Over Tank Fails At
There are a few areas that the OXO Auto-Drip doesn’t do a great job at. Primarily, these are why you’d expect, but I do want to cover them:
- It’s Built for One-Cup Pour-Over Brewing. Well duh, all those words are right in the name. But one nice thing about my Kalita Wave 185 is that I can make anywhere from 250 to 550mL of coffee without breaking a sweat. The OXO is labeled in 240, 280, 320, and 360 mL increments. (Those are 6, 8, 10, 12 oz). That’s all. If you want more you must brew again.
- You Give Up Drip-Pattern and Flow Control. Similarly, because your relying on OXO’s drilled holes in the dripping reservoir to dispense the water, you’re obviously giving up making your spirals or others that us coffee fanatics often like.
Should You Get the OXO Auto-Dripper?
At under $20, this is really an impulse purchase. We were provided ours at a convention by a couple friendly folks from OXO, but if I saw it at a store in a spending mood, I’d totally give it a shot. It’s an interesting hybrid of the ease-of-brewing of a Mr Coffee-type coffee machine and a fancy, fussy pour over coffee that I more typically brew.
That said, in having it for fours months, I’ve maybe used the “OXO Good Grips Single Serve Pour Over Coffee Dripper with Auto-Drip Water Tank” about twice per month. Part of this is that it’s been summer, and I prefer an afternoon warm coffee in cooler months. And part of that is that I really appreciate the ceremony of brewing with a cooler pour-over contraption.
For when I have used it, I’ve really appreciated how quickly the OXO Auto-Drip gives me a cup of good coffee. Turn on the kettle, grind the beans, assemble the stack, fill the reservoir, take a shower, and find a nice cup of brewed pour-over coffee waiting. If that sounds good to you, go ahead and drop it into your cart right now. 😉