Several "automatic pour-over" machines have recently come onto the market from manufacturers such as those you listed. They are something of a hybrid between the ubiquitous, conventional "automatic drip" machines and manual pour-over methods. That is, the automatic pour-over machines attempt to perform the same sequence of steps recommended for manual pour-over, but in an automated fashion.
For example, compare the Blue Bottle pour-over drip guide. This suggests a multi-step process of pouring. With water at a particular temperature, do the following:
- heat the cone and wet the filter;
- pour a small amount of water to wet the grounds and "bloom", then wait;
- pour the rest of the water slowly in the middle of the grounds pile.
Some other guides recommend pouring in circular motions, or in multiple iterations, or at a particular rate, or in certain places. See also the question about pour-over techniques.
Regular auto-drip machines, on the other hand, simply drop water in one go over all of the grounds in a somewhat uncontrolled manner. This also relates to a question: does auto-drip taste different than pour-over? That's a separate, open question.
This article from LifeHacker gives a comparison between the new-fangled automatic pour-over machines and how they compare to real, manual pour-over, and another from HuffPo about the Chemex model. Their conclusions are varied (see article for more) but:
- they're more expensive than conventional drip;
- some models have controllable settings for certain parameters (e.g., bloom time; temperature)
- they provide precise repeatability for certain parameters such as rate, contact time with grounds, water temperature.
Ultimately, they provide attention to detail that can be done by hand; some do this better than others. However, most just heat water and drip it over the grounds somewhat better than a conventional drip coffee maker.
- don't want to learn the "style" or "art" to manual pour-over, or
- if you appreciate the nuances of manual pour-over (over auto-drip), but can't quite focus attention on details that really distinguish manual pour-over,
these machines might be for you.