Passion, experience, and consciousness through coffee

Melitta Hand Drip Method From Immersion to Permeative Brewing

Aug 15, 2013 • Brewing17 Comments

This classic but still widely used dripper was invented German house wife Melitta Benz about a century ago. It is the very first conical dripper which all others later copied, reinvented, and redesined.

melitta dripperThe dripper features one small hole on the bottom, and there aBre ribs on the wall. The ribs keeps some space in between the paper filter and the dripper. By maintaining the space, the dripper enables coffee to be filtered through any part of the paper. The small bottom hole optimizes the speed of drip so that poured water extracts right amount of coffee substance out of the grounds with minimal attention.

The physics of Melitta dripper contains elements of both immersion brewing method such as french press and permeative brewing method such as Hario V60 or Chemex. The drip brewing is generally recognized as a permeative method, but logically, Melitta dripper, in which the coffee grounds are infused in the water for a reasonable amount of time, is a hybrid of permeation and immersion. The cool thing about Melitta dripper is that depending on how you control the brewing, you could weigh on either permeation or immersion elements.

Immersion Pour-over Brewing

A normally instructed way of Melitta brewing is more of immersion brewing than permeative. As you do to all other hand drip method, start off of an initial blooming of 30 seconds or so. The purpose of the blooming is to release the gas out of coffee grounds as well as even extraction. The next step is dumping all the water into the dripper. The recommended temperature is close to boiling point and the grind level is medium to medium-fine.

The resulted cup tends to be watery, yet the unfavorable flavor is noticable. The floatation of the grounds in the flooded water gives enough agitation to the grounds, and unfavorable flavor is extracted rather than favorable complexity that beans potentially have. It takes less time than more careful hand drip and requires little skills. Melitta dripper obtains easiness and steady cup results by sacrificing freedom of control. It always results the same regardless of the brewers’ skills.

Permeative Pour-over Brewing

In contrast to the immersion brewing, by controlling the drip speed, Melitta dripper can enhance different flavor notes. It is the what Hario V60 is good at. Since the dripper isn’t designed for the permeative drip brewing, it is a little harder than Hario.

After the initial saturating drip which gives just enough water to get all the grounds saturated, softly pour hot water on to the grounds. In this brewing, you need to keep the water level which barely soaks the grounds’ surface wet. By doing so, the coffee grounds can keep the layer made at the initial blooming pour and minimize the agitation from freely floating ground particles in the flooded dripper. The pour over should start from the middle and make a spiral going outward. A centimeter or so before hitting the edge, it should start coming inward. Once the coffee reaches the amount you need, remove the dripper before all the water is dripped into the cup. The last drip tend to contain unfavorable bitterness and harshness.

From my experience, the permeative Mellita brewing has better extraction than immersion Melitta brewing. It enhances the body, and the least agitation results cleanliness in the cup.

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17 Responses to Melitta Hand Drip Method From Immersion to Permeative Brewing

  1. Dan says:

    Awesome post as usual…This is Dan by the way …remember we had good discussion in May,2013 regarding melitta and kalitta drippers ..Hope all is well with you …by the way whats your name and email id ? ..forgot to ask last time …

    Anyways here is a nice article ..I do agree with your permeative pour over brewing aiding cleaner cup ..not only that it helps a lot in Thermal stability as well …

    There is 2 schools of thought in pour over …

    * pour all brew water after pre-infusion .aka ..infusion brewing – poor thermal stability and watery cup ..
    *pour water in STAGES after preinfusion – to barely cover the grounds – aka – permeative brewing – decent thermal stability
    * third school of thought which advocates permeative style brewing where water is poured “CONTINOUSLY” ( instead of pouring in STAGES)just to barely cover the grounds – This brings out acidity and enhances thermal stability …But I guess the grind size also matters here, so that its not too fine so that it can flood the dripper …and defeat our purpose …and above all you need skill as well..

    Please read these 2 articles ..very refreshing experiments ..

    Let me know what you think ….

    • Admin says:

      Dan, the articles are impressive. I didn’t really think of temperature stability as a factor to affect the cup uniformity. They definitely gave me one more element to pay attention to when I brew coffee.

  2. Dan says:

    italcoffee…did you get a chance to read those articles on thermal stability ? …I agree with most part except 210F being used it kills any floral notes in my coffee ..Whats ur take and what brew temp water do u use when using a v60 …or is brew water temp roast dependent …

    • Admin says:

      I think 205 is good temp to enhance acidity. If you compare 205 with 200, you could usually see more acidity and deeper extraction in 205. I think 210 is too high too. You got the first hand experience and the result.

      Hario V60 is good for someone like you who enjoy acidity because V60’s fast dripping characteristic cuts unfavorable bitterness.

      With V60, I use 24 grams of coffee for 320 grams of water. The temperature is at around 195. 30 or so seconds and 3 min of total brewing time. What I care the most when I use V60 is where to pour the water and keep the water level quite low. The ribs sucks water into the cup at every surface of filter, so I make sure to create a bank with coffee gounds between water and the filter. The bank prevents poured water from just going straight to the filter and to the cup. I usually pursue cleanliness and sweetness.

      Generally, I see water temperature as roast and varietal dependent. The darker roast is better with lower temp. It usually has favorable sweetness which can be obtained with lower temp, and unfavorable bitterness can be cut at the lower temp as well. On the other hand, lighter roast tends to exhibit favorable acidity which can be obtained at higher temp.

      • Dan says:

        So TK…thanks for the tips ..One quick quest …Since you said …

        “The bank prevents poured water from just going straight to the filter and to the cup. I usually pursue cleanliness and sweetness.”
        So that being said …whats the best pour technique ( using permeative brewing) …

        * Do you just keep pouring right into the center …( US champion Andy Sprenger’s technique )
        * Do you keep pouring in the center and draw a circle no more than a US 25 cents coin size ..maybe an inch in diameter ?
        * Do you keep pouring in concentric circles all the way to the edges but without touching the edges starting at the center ?
        Only recently did I disover that brew bed and pour style were dependent check this nice article out and pl let me know what you think TK ?

        Pl see the pencil sketches …Very straight forward I guess …and pl let me know what you think …

      • Admin says:

        I think slightly different techniques are required depending on equipments. I think Hario V60 and Chemex are pretty different.

        The ribs V60 create horizontal tention, which means the water is pulled from the side walls in addition to the vertical tention caused by gravity. (The image is overly over exaggerated)

        For V60-02 with 20+ gram of coffee, what I do is try to create about 1/3 inch of dam. By doing this, all the water go through layer of coffee. I guess how I do is in between answer 2 and 3. I also try to keep the kettle as close as possible so that the agitation is minimal.

        Chemex has no ribs on the wall, and the tension is only created from the bottom.

        I think Chemex lets you relax a little more. The 3rd technique seems to be good for it. But to be honest with you, I don’t really have any personal fixation on this device.

        As well as the last articles you gave me, this one was very educational. I admire how shops becoming more creative to differentiate themselves from others in brewing. What I’m slightly curious about this experiment is that how shower headed Chemex and single spotted Chemex would result differently after a few hours from brewing.

      • Dan says:

        Awesome reply TK …Good diagrams and illustrations …So I guess you are suggesting ..For


        * keep pouring in the center and draw a circle no more than a US 25 cents coin size ..maybe an inch in diameter ? – to avoid horizontal tension and that makes sense ..


        * keep pouring in concentric circles all the way to the edges but without touching the edges starting at the center ? – Little room to relax and can go all the way towards edges ( without touching the edges) as no horizontal tension involved…

        Hope I understood you correctly …so if thats the case whats the pour technique for a flannel/cloth filter ..can it be treated like a chemex pour model as there is no horizontal tension or is it totally different brew model where the brew bed is convex shaped ?

        As far as your question to the chemex brew taste after few hours with/without a shower head, it can be a bit drastic as the pour styles are different …Maybe you can experiment and share it as my chemex broke a few months ago …But I like the hario style of pouring better, because at times if you are not careful you go too far and touch the edges it can cause channeling and even cause ground bottleneck resulting in over extraction …Pleas let me know and I am glad that the articles I send your way are informative ..:-)

      • Admin says:

        Dan, you correctly understood what I had tried to say. Except, I think V60 can have a bigger diameter. I usually keep1/3 inch of bank, and that leads to a bigger pour diameter.

        Do you have a particular V60 method you believe?

  3. Dan says:

    TK ….after many tries this is my v60 technique …

    1. Use a medium coarse grind ( not too coarse )
    – This helps us in permeative brewing and also keeps the brew bed from filling up and less paper contact …
    2. Start with 1:16 ratio or 1:20 as per taste and create a small divot in the grounds
    – This helps water enter the deepest part of the bed. Water temp I use is 203F/95C in the kettle …
    3. Pour 10-20% of your total brew volume right into the divot and circle all over the grounds . Now with a spoon stir aggressively for 5-7 seconds in the slurry ..
    – This helps even extraction and sets the table for uniformity …
    4. Wait for 30seconds for bloom to settle…
    – This pause helps in uniform extraction and aids outgassing…
    5. Pour slowly at center and circle outwards, but dont go towards the edges to avoid chanelling and creating bottlenecks…and pour CONTINUOSLY without pause …Flow restrictor in a kettle helps here a lot . The goal is pour only so much that the bed never gets filled…What you pour needs to come right out …Thats where skill comes to play …Water should be poured so gently that it just kisses the coffee grounds and leaves the brewer ….
    – This helps in permeative brewing and helps in extracting just the “umami” notes in coffee as umami can be extracted even in a higher concentration gradient and at lower temparatures …and “zatsumi” ( bad/bitter taste in japanese) can be extracted at a lower concentration gradient and higher temparature…..
    6. This is where grind size matters…Repeat step 5 until all water in gone and do it in such a way that you finish the process of pouring water with 2.15 – 2.30 seconds ..( flavour varies dramatically within seconds ). So experiment and see what you like ..
    7. Now give one final stir in the bed in a clockwise/anticlockwise direction gently for 3 times …
    – This helps catch any stray grounds sticking to the filter to participate back in the brew process
    8. All water should have exited by now in 2.45 – 3 minutes and should see a nice coffee dome at the center with no grounds on the walls of the brewer ..
    9 …This method showcases acidity in coffee which I like ….

    – Please let me know what you think and whats your pour technique for flannel/ cloth filters as there is no horizontal tension as in a v60 or am I wrong ?

    • Admin says:

      Thank you for sharing your thorough V60 Technique. Looks like it requires lots of love and attention from its brewer lol. Now that I have heard spoon stir at a blooming phase for many times, I think I need to try that.

      Unfortunately, I don’t have a solid idea about the flannel brewing. but I assume somewhat you can treat it like Chemex.

  4. Dan says:

    Pl post your feed back once you try my technique …

    • Admin says:

      Dan, I tried your method last night. I used 20 gram of city roasted Caturra from Uchumachi, Bolivia for 320 gram of water. It generated brighter acidity than the way I usually do which features lower temperature and less agitation. The stirring at the blooming phase definitely helped deeper extraction but at the same time put lots of Zatsumi into my cup. It probably because the way I did was very clumsy. Besides that, it highlights fuller body with lots of spice and chocolate in addition to the acidity.

      I definitely gotta work on the process to get a good result from this method. Any tips for spoon stir part?

  5. Dan says:

    TK …what I do is I aim for the divot right in the center and fill it with water as bed is deeper in the center and then slowly pour around so that the entire bed is wet first …Once bloom starts I leave it alone for a couple seconds so that water and grounds hang out and get to know each other .and degassing commences..and then I stir GENTLY for 7-10 seconds …I usually count ( 1,2,3 ….7…..10 ) …Please dont stir hard …you are correct and it will release zatsumi …..I guess rate of agitation is inversely proportional to the grind size … other words finer the grind size ….lesser the speed/rate of agitation …..So if you are into aggressive stirring please make sure the grind size is little coarser as grind size is the most important element here …and then follow permeative style brewing after preinfusion …At the end of the brew I usually stir gently 3 or 4 times to re-incorporate any grounds back into the brew process…and the brew bed ( post -brewing) also tells you how well was your technique …That can be a seperate discussion all by itself …
    By the way I am really glad my technique helped …Its the combined work of more than 2 years of research and reading various blogs and my own twists …By the way question for you ….
    I heard you got a lot of spice notes and choclate …

    * what time did you stop pouring water into the brewer – like 2minutes …?
    * what was your total time for brew ? – like 2.30 minutes ?
    * when you poured water did you pour in a one big circle avoiding edges or was it in a concentric fashion starting at the center ?

    Just curious and please post feedback ?

    • Admin says:

      Here are the variables:
      -20g: 320g(1:16)
      -water temp: 95
      -Blooming: 0:45
      -Infusion: 2:00
      -Drop: 0:15

      During infusion, I did concentric spiral from the center and avoided the outer edge. The grind was medium but I made sure to remove small particles which slow down draining and cause over-extraction. The bed was never flooded and it was kept like wet seashore whole time.

      Where most zatsumi came in at the blooming. A couple of things I did wrong here were the stirring technic and time. They both came from the lack of skill. There is a room for improvement.

      • Dan says:

        Sounds like you nailed it TK …..So if you bloomed for 45 seconds and poured water for 2 minutes and the drop was 15 seconds …you finished the whole process in 3 minutes total ….I went to hario’s site the other day and this is what they recommend …3 minutes regardless of the brew volume ….not sure if its possible for higher brew ratios …But if you think zatsumi is getting released during preinfusion, try with a slighlty coarser grind or reduce the stir time to say like 3-4 seconds instead of 10 seconds which I prefer …..Also the very important thing is brew water temp which you started with 95C …after 45 sec preinfusion would have dropped also to around 88-90c …which is not bad as umami can be extracted even at lower temparature ….The only thing I do different is I preinfuse for 30 seconds and I infuse only for 1.45 and drop is 15 seconds completing at 2.30…and my ratio is 1:18 which I like …When you go cross 3-3.30 min range , I do experience bitterness…Anyways once you play around and get a real good grip on your variables and technique please email me of what suits your taste buds the best ..I am really curious :-)…

  6. Linda Reed says:

    This is a poor Englishwoman wanting to know how best to use a Melitta filter to produce multiple cups of coffee without waiting forever. Your instructions lead me to believe that, initially, I should perhaps obtain an American/English dictionary – a lot of your instructions are total gobbledegook to me. Secondly, I believe that this system is only successful for making one cup of coffee at a time. Comments please.

    • Ital Coffee says:

      Thanks for somehow finding this blog and leaving a comment.

      Naturally my intention is to obtain a cup that I believe good, which tents to be achieving the cleanest profile possible. For your need of making multiple cups is quite different, and I think general instruction for Melitta suit you better. The first thing is to have the a right size dripper. There seems to be pretty big ones like this.

      Brewing can be only two stages: the first is the initial blooming pour. Softly pour prepared water on top of the grounds and wait a little bit so that all the coffee particles get saturated. Normally coffee books would say 30 seconds but it doesn’t matter. At the second pour, steadily but lightly pour all the water to the top of the dripper. At this time, drawing a spiral outward from the center and coming back to the center once it gets close to the edge.

      When all the water gets dropped into the cup as coffee, it’s done.

      I think an important part is to adjust the grinder. Trying to hit 3~4 minutes total. If it takes more than 4 minutes, make it a little courser(If the brewing time is too short, make it finer). Also amount of ground coffee used may need to be adjusted. People often say 1:15 of coffee:water is the golden ratio. But when you make larger amount, it would normally require less ground coffee against water than golden ratio because the layer of the ground coffee gets thicker and produce well extraction.

      I don’t have a large dripper, so I am not definite, but above is what I would try first.

Please share your thoughts. Your input is valued.