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Melitta and Kalita Pour-Over Coffee Dripper Comparison

May 15, 2013 • Brewing20 Comments

A trapezoid porcelain dripper is an old school manual coffee maker you have probably seen somewhere. The advantage of this type of drippers is the consistency you can get without much of effort. These drippers usually have one to three small wholes on the bottom, and they control the infusion time. Ribs appeared inside walls create space between the paper filter and dripper so that extracted coffee liquid can flow through the walls.

There are tons of products with the same or similar style. Out of these, I would like to compare two major ones that have confusingly similar names: Melitta and Kalita. Bonmac and BeeHouse are other popular ones that are adopted by notable coffee shops, but they seem to be too similar to Melitta/Kalita to be talked about here.

Melitta

General Information and Brewing Instruction

melita coffee dripperMelitta manual pour-over coffee maker is the first paper dripper which was invented by German housewife Ms. Melitta Benz about a century ago. This one hole dripper is very easy to handle but produce a great cup of coffee.

It is advised to start with preheating/paper rinsing. I personally think that rinsing part isn’t necessary. If you pick a white paper filter, there doesn’t seem to be any difference rised filter and unrised filter. Preheating the porcelain cone with hot water is nice thing to do so that the water temperature stays more stable during the infusion.

The next step is blooming. Softly drop minimal amount of water to saturate the coffee bed, and let capillary phenomenon thoroughly wet the grounds for about 30 seconds. Idealy, only few drops of coffee gets in the server in this stage.

After the blooming, you can pour the whole amount of water you need into the dripper all at once. When you pour the water on to the coffee bed, start a spiral move from the center and gradually move towards the outer rim. At this time, avoid pouring directly onto the paper filter because it dilutes coffee. Keep pouring the water with this outward spiral and inward spiral until the water level hits the indication line which is found inside of the dripper.

The water inside of the dripper slowly extracts nutrients out of coffee and drops into the server. Make sure to take out the dripper before all the coffee drops into the server because the foam on the surface of water inside of the dripper tends to contain unfavorable flavor elements. A total infusion time should be from 2’30” to 4′ depending on your preference. Compared to faster dripping Hario V60 or Chemex, Melitta naturally creates longer infusion time at the pulse pour(pour the whole amount of water needed at once) because of restricted water flow by the one small hole on the bottom. The longer the brew time is, the stronger the coffee will be. At the same time, exceeded infusion time can cause over-extraction. With this dripper, you can adjust the infusion time by changing the level of grind. If you need to shorten the infusion time, set to a courser grind, or if you want to stretch the time, set to a finer grind.

What Melitta is good at

More than anything, the coolness of this dripper is its easiness to achieve the steady result. Once you set the parameters, grind level, amount of coffee, and amount of water, Even a century after Melitta was invented, it’s one of the most popular drippers. For those who pursue a cleaner cup with Melitta, this permeative approach may be helpful.

Weakness of Melitta

A common problem people have with the Melitta dripper is over-extraction. Simply, the single small hole slows down the water drip, and the exceeded infusion time extracts unwanted flavor from the coffee. Another downside of Melitta is agitation caused by destruction of coffee bed. This dripper is designed for a pulse pour. The coffee grounds that contain CO2 float around in the water and the destruction of solid coffee bed occurs. The agitation caused by the floatation of the grounds promotes unfavorable flavor in the resulted cup.

Kalita(Not Wave model)

General Information and Brewing Instruction

melita coffee dripperKalita, the counter part, is a Japanese coffee equipment manufacturer established in 1950s. Their signature three hole dripper was basically an improved version of Melitta. The notable difference is additional holes that enables faster drip than Melitta. While Melitta is designed for a pulse pour which only takes one pour besides the initial blooming one, Kalita is designed for stage pour which takes a few pours.

After the initial pour for 30 seconds of blooming, the second stage is a spiral pour starting from the center. Spirally pour water outward and inward, but make sure to keep in within a small circle. Amount of water in this stage should be moderate.

From the third stage, pour water the same way as the second stage, but the diameter of the circle you pour onto should be bigger than the previous stage. That way, you can keep deep layer of coffee grounds with least agitation.

Before all the water is dripped into the server from the dripper, the next shot starts. Repeat this until the coffee liquid hits the amount you want.

Depending on the amount of water poured at each stage, the number of stages varies. If you pour carefully to keep the coffee bed stable and flat, it takes more shots, but the effort can be tasted in the resulted cup. A carefully dropped coffee has greater cleanliness and less harshness than pulse poured Melitta.

What Kalita is Good at

By featuring three holes that provide much faster dripping speed, Kalita enables one to control the brewing process rather than the drip cone determines the infusion time. Kalita adopted the permeative method and empowers the brewer. The cup quality is affected by the skills and experience. When you want to put more effort to get a better cup of coffee, it will be great to have something like Kalita. The preparation of coffee turns into an artistic expression rather than reluctant task.

Conclusion

One of important functions of pour-over dripper is how not to dissolve unwanted chemicals into the coffee liquid. From that perspective, Kalita seems to be a little more advanced. Melitta, on the other hand, focuses on the easiness and repeatability. As long as the concept of each dripper is understood, they are both pretty cool.

Considering the whole chain of coffee industry from the seed to cup, the difference in brewing devices is very insignificant. But that’s pretty much the only part people can take full control over in the coffee preparation process. At the end, the collective efforts of farmers, exporters, importers, roasters, and retailers can be either ruined or perfected depending on the brewing. Trying to pick the appropriate device and understand its concept is nice thing to do to the coffee.

My last cup of coffee today was medium roasted Sidamo Shilcho brewed with Kalita, but it turned out to be overly extracted bitter one.

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20 Responses to Melitta and Kalita Pour-Over Coffee Dripper Comparison

  1. Dan says:

    I do have a melitta and like it …Now I wanna try hario v60 or kalita wave due to its popularity ….Which one is a better choice …I really like acidity in my coffee …Which is a better option in my case ….Is Kalitta better than hario as its a flat bottom unlike the conical bottom hario ? …whats ur thoughts ?

    • Ital Coffee says:

      Thanks for the comment, Dan. I recommend Hario V60 over Kalita Wave, especially if you like the acidity of coffee. Acidity is easily extracted in any drip method, so to have nice acidity in a cup is how not to have unwanted bitterness and harshness is the key. Generally Hario V60 gives you more control over extraction. Harder but cleaner cup once you get it down. I think the basic concept of Kalita Wave is still the the same as the original Kalita, in which, the time the ground coffee contacts the water is controlled by those three holes on the buttom. In this method, you can get the the same cupping quality easily but tend to have some unwanted flavor as well. Let me know which one you choose and how you like it!

      • Dan says:

        Based upon your suggestion I placed an order for a new Hario paper less dripper ….
        amzn.to/10PO54Q

      • Ital Coffee says:

        Thant’s an interesting choice! Let me know how you like it when you get a chance.

      • Dan says:

        Guess what …just brewed me some coffee with hario paperless and it was good ….I really liked the rich taste of the coffee …Only catch is the filter was little expensive @ $30 for being plastic and I really like ceramic( no bpa) ….But honestly cannot compare kalitta wave to this as I have never used that before …But you claim that kalita wave can bring some unwanted flavors in addition to the good ones ….but I guess the 2013 champion this year won using a kalita wave …But for now I like hario v60 and my eva solo ..By the way spent lot of time in making some vacuum coffee last month and it failed me …Though it was fun to look at I hated the taste with passion ….I used yama 5 cup( stove top) and it tasted liked boiled coffee as the steam cooked it continously during that 1 minute when the coffee grounds was infusing in the upper chamber …So I guess kalita wave has to wait for a bit as I refine my current techniques ….

      • Ital Coffee says:

        Good hear that you like the Hario! Yeah the problem with vacuum pot(siphon) seems to be the water at the boiling point. If you come up with any solution, let me know.

        About Kalita Wave and Hario V60, Kalita Wave generally controls drip speed with the bottom three holes. http://youtu.be/mupueSMHBJQ In this way, you pour a good amount of water into the ground and it floats in the water. In my opinion this agitates the coffee and extracts unwanted flavor. The best brewing is to keep the layer of coffee ground and let the water go through. The less agitation brings cleaner cup. The video is a very typical brewing way with Kalita Wave but lots of agitation. I think Hario V60 is designed for more careful brewing that keeps the coffee layer. http://youtu.be/Vz-WJ8_b5Ko You can see the clear difference. You could do this method in any brewing. I think it’s a little easier with Hario V60 than Kalita Wave. All of this is just my opinion though.

  2. Dan says:

    I agree with you there ….and honestly kalita wave looks like a glorified vietnamese phin filter to me at times …and looks like the concept is kind of same …But anyways I have a question …You claim “The best brewing is to keep the layer of coffee ground and let the water go through” ….But what about whole immersion methods like french press or eva solo …where the coffee and water hang out for a while ? Should we also expect any unwanted flavours in those brew methods too or whats the secret to avoid them ?

    • Ital Coffee says:

      I had to look up Vietnamese Phin. That’s actually a pretty interesting device.

      I think immersion method is gonna be a totally different story. The biggest difference is that we don’t expect clarity like paper drip from French press. A fun experiement you can do is to filter French press brewed coffee with paper filter. You can remove coffee particles and oil out of the coffee. The resulted coffee isn’t tasty. You could clearly taste unfavorable flavor. In regular French pressed coffee, it’s hidden behind particles and oil. In conclusion, I would say a “good” cup of French pressed coffee isn’t the same as the one of drip brew.

      If you wanna have a cleaner cup from French press, here is the secret method. In this method, the agitation of coffee ground is minimized. Don’t tell anyone about this method though.
      1. Pour water in the press
      2. Pour ground on top of the water
      3. Press the ground so that all the ground coffee dips in the water.
      4. Wait 3 to 4 min
      5. Press it slowly to the buttom
      In this way, there will be pretty much no agitation.
      From paper drip lover’s perspective, this gives a better cup. One problem is that you need a little more ground to make it as thick as regularly brewed coffee. I don’t have much knowledge about Eva Solo.

      • Dan says:

        Ok I promise not to share the secret ..lol … :-)

        To be honest …this is the exact same way I make coffee in my eva solo ….Pour boiling water in cafe eva solo and wait for 20 seconds to correct water temparature and drop grounds in ..Then stir for 20 seconds to ampify acidity and after 4 mts just decant ( without pressing ) like cupping coffee ….I also find that stirring INITIALLY enhances acidity which is the same technique Bunn trifecta uses …Light roasts can handle more turbulence and vice versa ….Infact “Turbulence” is the secret capitalized by trifecta which I gather from trifecta user blogs ….Both the time of turbulence and the rate at which is applied, have significant impact …Because the same 20 sec agitation done at a more higher turbulence can cause ashy tastes …I am continuing to experiment …By the way do check phin filter …I have 3 of them ..It makes nice strong shots of coffee if done correctly ..

      • Ital Coffee says:

        Yeah I agree how more solid light roasted coffee can take the higher turbulence. That’s true that the degree of turbulence needs to be adjusted based on the level of roast. Phin filter looks very interesting. I will do some research on that.

      • Dan says:

        Hey …remember couple days back we talked about hario v60’s big gaping hole in the bottom and kalitta wave’s new conical flatbottom filter with 3 holes …just found out that a japnese company called “torch” already had released a product called “donut driper” couple years back …Its almost like the kalitta wave …its a ceramic conical flat bottom filter but it has a big gaping hole like the hario v60 …and good thing is ..no expensive filters needed and all it needs is a #4 melitta cone filter …anyways pondering over this product I was able to replicate it in my home using a ordinary paper cup [ conical whites with flat bottoms ] …:-) with a big hole and using #4 melitta paper filters folded in a special way as illustrated in donut dripper site …Makes pretty good cup of joe …Just wanted to share my new find …

        http://www.dodrip.net/index.html

      • Admin says:

        Thanks for sharing. The dripper sounds interesting. Seems like some pros and cons from both Hario v60 and Kalita Wave. I’ll try making the model with a paper cup too.

  3. Dan says:

    Please let me know how it turned out ..I used a quarter dollar coin to carve out a nice hole …at the bottom ….and I tend to find that a coarse grind suits this dripper better ….and with the big hole drainage is faster just like hario …I wish I knew japnese as I could not understand some tech jargon on this site …..diagrams talk about some step design inside the cone ..Pl let me know if it makes any sense …

    http://www.dodrip.net/points.html

    • Admin says:

      Dan, I did a little research on the donut dripper. I thought it’s pretty impressive.
      1. The slim body: it makes the layer of ground coffee thick. The hot water flows more slowly through it than in ordinary coffee drippers.
      2. Big hole: it helps the natural flow of the coffee, so the coffee gives the finest flavor of the coffee bean itself.
      3. The steps: they prevent the hot water from flowing out through the wall of the dripper. The hot water is pushed back into the coffee grounds.
      Japanese coffee geeks are giving it pretty good reviews too. According to reviews I read, Water control is easier than Hario to achieve a descent quality cup. It’s understandable because the area you can pour water is limited and pretty much anywhere you drop water, it’ll go through thick layer of ground coffee. Another thing I found out is that Colin Harmon from Ireland used it to make his signature drink at World Barista Championship 2010.

      • Dan says:

        Cool ….Thats good ….But in all honestly I use a very fine grind …I use the same grind in both hario and my donut dripper(dd) made with paper cup …Comparing side by side I like the hario better as the dd makes one over extracted coffee …..Its got both the good and the bad in it ..and I use fine grind as both hario and dd have big holes in bottom …Not sure of what I am doing wrong …It was good in making small amounts of coffee …but as I started adding more coffee grounds for bigger batches …making the layer of coffee thick ….more bitter was the taste …Its more forgiving than hario in pour techniques …but I guess not with ground sizes …Continuing to experiment …Btw please share your taste results which matters the most at the end of the day ….

      • Admin says:

        From what I hear from you, changing the grind level seems to be the first thing you wanna do…but I guess you’ve already done that.

        If I get the dripper or descent replica, I will share the cup result with you!

  4. Dave says:

    I reckon I’m fortunate that my Melitta 101 is a three-hole.

    • Ital Coffee says:

      I’ve never had a first hand experience with three-hole Melitta, but some I saw had nicely refined ribs. It even looks nicer than Kalita and Beehouse.

  5. pol says:

    I’m planning to buy a Kalita 101 (the brown one shown in the pic, just smaller ;P), but I’m wondering, can I use 101 paper filters from Melitta?

    • Ital Coffee says:

      Bigup Pol, yes a lot of people use Melitta paper on Kalita. It doesn’t fit perfectly, but by adjusting the folding line, it works fine.

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