Cone vs Flat Drippers: Which One Should You Be Using?

default image by Vasileia Fanarioti | Updated on April 27th, 2021

One of the most popular methods of brewing coffee these days is the pour-over method. During this method, all you need to do is pour hot water through a bed of coffee grounds in a filter basket. The water then extracts the flavor compounds of the coffee and drips them into your mug.

There are so many pour-over drippers in the market and you’ve probably wondered what’s the difference and which one is better. Most pour-over drippers are either flat or cone-shaped so today we are going to explain their differences and help you choose which one is right for you. 

Cone vs Flat Drippers

Cone Drippers

stainless steel kettle on brown wooden table

As their name suggests, these drippers have a conical shape with a large hole in the middle. The purpose of the hole is to direct the water at the center of the dripper. That way there is more contact between the coffee grounds and the hot water, which leads to a clean cup full of flavor.

Flat Drippers

person pouring tea in cup

Unlike the cone drippers, flat drippers feature a flat bottom with three holes for extraction. The purpose of these holes is to minimize water channeling during pouring and ensure an even extraction and a clean bright cup of coffee.

Both the flat and the cone drippers were designed to achieve the ultimate extraction of all flavors and aroma in your coffee mug. They do this quite well which is why they are a game-changer within the coffee brewing community. 

You can play around with the water flow and the grind size variants to figure out what suits your taste best. For example, if you pour faster during the brewing then your coffee will have a light body whilst a slower flow rate will result in a heavier cup. 

Same with the grind size when you grind coarser the water will go through the coffee bed faster and this will result in a clean cup, full of the coffee’s natural flavors.

A finer grind setting on the other hand will lead to a longer extraction and your cup will be more round and intense. This is a great choice for those who prefer their coffee with a heavy mouthfeel and flavor. 

Does the shape make a difference?

One of the most common debates within the professional coffee community is about these two drippers and which shape brews better. But first, we need to ask if the shape really does make a difference.

The University of California Davis Coffee Center conducted research to figure this out and concluded that “the flat-bottom basket yielded flavor attributes with more dried fruit, sweet, and floral flavor intensities, while the conical basket yielded more citrus, berry, and sour.” 

The is also a difference between the two drippers if you are using a dark roast coffee. The dark roast is well known and loved for its flavor notes of chocolate and nuts. Apparently, the flat drippers enhanced the dark roasts’ chocolate notes while the conical ones yielded a cup with much more bitterness.  Here’s our favorite flat dripper from ESPRO:

Why is there a difference?

So it seems that even a small difference in the shape of these drippers matters for the result in your cup. This happens because the shape changes the way in which the water flows through the coffee bed and basically changes the process by which the water extracts the coffee’s flavor compounds. 

Which one is better?

After all this research it all comes down to this question: is one dripper better than the other? As with many things in life, coffee taste is something completely subjective. So, the answer is that yes one of them is better and it’s the one that you think results in the cup of coffee that you love.

Maybe the flat dripper compliments the coffee you bought much better or maybe the conical dripper is perfect for your morning cup of coffee but you prefer a flat dripper for later in the day. Whatever the case may be, now you know how they differ and you can have a lot of fun experimenting with them.

The good news is that they are both inexpensive and great coffee brewers to up your home-brewing skills. And if you need a little bit of extra info on how to brew pour-over coffee then feel free to check out our detailed guide.

What filters should I use?

Much like the shape of your dripper, choosing which filter to use is a matter of personal preference. The most popular choices are paper and metal filters but there are also cloth and nylon filters in the market. 

Regarding paper filters, you can choose bleached or unbleached ones, and depending on your taste you can use one or two while brewing your coffee. Every choice you make regarding which filter style you are going to use is going to affect the final flavor in your cup. 

But don’t worry! We have done the research for you so if you want to know how the filter material is going to affect your brew then go ahead and have a look at our best coffee filters article.

Final Thoughts

And that’s it! Now you know the real answer to which dripper is better. At the end of the day, it all comes down to how much you want to engage in brewing your favorite cup of coffee. Personally, I like to try both drippers when I buy a new coffee and experiment with the grind size and flow rate to figure out which one compliments it best.

But if you’re someone who always buys the same coffee beans and likes to use a standard recipe then I believe you will have great results with any of the two drippers. I would only recommend that if you prefer dark roast coffee then better use a flat dripper as the cone one will most likely make it taste bitter. 

And remember these differences might seem small but they make all the difference when it comes down to brewing a cup of coffee that’s just right for you. Happy Brewing!

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Disclosure: No compensation or free products were received in exchange for writing this review.

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Vasileia Fanarioti

My name is Vasileia and I’m here because i decided to combine my two favourite things: writing and coffee. Don’t ever make me choose between filter and espresso, although I do have a soft spot for flat whites. I love travelling around the world and visiting coffee shops but my biggest goal is to visit a few coffee farms, to see where it all starts. Hopefully soon I’ll take you there through my articles.