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.
General Information and Brewing Instruction
Melitta 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
Kalita, 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.
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.