When it comes to technology, a new invention gets progressively better, almost always. So is coffee equipment. Any phases in coffee farming, processing, roasting, and brewing, every equipment involved probably affects the final cup more or less. There probably is a legendary mucilage remover or something, which is like Probat for roasting or La Marzocco for espresso, and some taste difference in the results. Ones equipped with newer technologies probably give you better tasting coffee.
From consumer perspective, coffee making is mostly about brewing. Majority of people don’t seem to roast coffee at home. Maybe not even buy whole bean and grind it. But I like to wishfully think handful people at least brew coffee with their old school manual dripper. One of a few things we can have control over in a whole coffee production process, we should take brewing seriously, especially pour-over hand drip. Here I explain four legendary pour-over coffee drippers real quick.
Melitta, immersion dripper
The origin of coffee dripper goes back to the beginning of 20th century, Melitta Benz, a house wife in Germany, came up with the idea to serve delicious coffee for her husband with a paper filter. Later, the company founded by her mass-produced the single hole coffee dripper and the business is now a multi-national coffee powerhouse. The first commercially made dripper had eight holes on the bottom, but Melitta decided to settle with the signature single hole in 1960s after it experimented many different inclinations, ribs, and holes.
It is well designed for users, just one time pulse pour, whose draining time is regulated by the single hole on the bottom, promises the steady result every time. The basic concept is that the infusion time is regulated by the single hole on the bottom so that the pulse pour can generate the same result every time. It is wel though device which doesn’t require much skill nor gooseneck kettle. After 30 seconds of initial pour for blooming, you could pour the water to the top of the dripper. The dripper takes care the rest. This method, at a glance, seems to be permeative brewing, but it is based on French press like infusion method.
I found some intersting paper filter by Melita. It’s called Aromagic. The filter seems to be the same standard size as regular Melitta paper filter. As it’s named Aromagic, it features numerous tiny holes all over the filter. The imaginable effects are faster drip and stronger body. If it could really improve drip speed for Melitta dripper, permeative brewing approach can be practical.
Kalita, permeation/immersion hybrid dripper
Kalita has gained its name recognition in the US after it released “Wave” dripper which has the flat bottom with three holes. However, Kalita has been manufacturing dripper since 1959. The original Kalita dripper was a copy of Melitta. Even the company names and logos of those two look alike. The notable difference between Melitta and Kalita is the number of drain holes. Kalita has three while Melitta has one.
Kalita’s concept is in between permeation and immersion. The additional holes enables more control while brewing. Usually water is poured in 3 to 6 stages. It creates semi continuous flow of water into the dripper, and coffee soluble is in contact with highly dissolving fresh water at each stage. It clears the issue with pulse pour of not being able to make well concentrated solution. The nearly saturated water can’t extract desirable amount of favorable soluble out of coffee.
The Wave dripper seems to have almost the same concept as the regular Kalita dripper but with couple additional features. On the bottom, it has some ridges that keep the filter from blocking the holes so that coffee smoothly flows into the server and avoid over-extraction. Another feature is the unique paper filter. It encourages coffee to release CO2 more thoroughly at the blooming stage and the beginning of brewing. Together with the wide flat bed, it enables even extraction.
Kono Meimon Filter, the first conical dripper
Kono Meimon filter is very little known dripper although it’s actually the pioneer of the conical shaped dripper. Coffee Syphon Co.,ltd. is originally a major manufacturer of vacuum pot founded in 1925, but in 1973, it invented Meimon filter after 5 years of development. It has 12 vertical ribs stretching from the bottom to halfway to the top. The number of ribs are the same as the popular Hario V60 while V60 has them all the way to the top. Meimon filter drips a little slower than Hario and there is a clear difference in the result. It is excellent at extracting evenly and thoroughly. On the other hand, compared to V60, it seems a bit harder to keep the resulting cup clean.
Over all, this actually is one of my favorite drippers. The downside is that the only acrylic resin model is ever made. That material won’t last forever. After months of use, you will find tiny cracks just like what plastic made Hario V60 gets. Depending on how often it’s used, but a daily used one can still last a few years.
Hario V60 was first introduced in 2005 and has been overwhelmingly well adopted by coffee shops since then. The name is from after its shape. From the side view, it has V shape with 60 degree angles on the top interior corners and bottom outside corners. It is not just a dripper, but it is officially “permeative” dripper. On the box of V60, which should be the original Japanese package, it particularly says permeative dripper. It features a large hole at the bottom. The bottom hole diameter of Hario V60 is bigger than Kono Meimon’s while Kono has a slightly a larger top diameter(My comparison is based in 01 size). The large outlet hole enables smooth permeative brewing. Another difference from Kono is 12 ribs found on the inner surface. In contrast to Kono’s halfway ribs, Hario V60 has ribs from the bottom to the top of inner surface. The ribs aren’t just longer but also spiral. Those unique spiral ribs are there to well maintain vent paths for degassing, and more importantly, the ribs guide the coffee to drop through. The big outlet and the spiral ribs collaboratively makes Hario V60 the permeative dripper which drips faster than Kono Meimon filter. By using this dripper, continuous pour works the best. The continuous fresh water flow extracts essential soluble out of the coffee grounds efficiently. The cup character is very clean, but if not carefully poured, the weak body and diminished flavor are common due to under-extraction.
Overall I think newer drippers usually feature some improvements from older ones. Moreover, I think the mechanism of Hario V60 is ahead of other drippers. When you compare cup results from different drippers, the difference is undeniable. Coffee is chemistry. When more good tasting chemicals are extracted, the coffee gets better. What’s interesting is that the taste and flavor quality from pour-over drippers have progressively improved, but they are getting harder to control contrary. I want no more new equipment to be introduced.