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In case you haven’t been paying attention, the lowly cup-top coffee cone, once considered a cheap, pedestrian way to make your morning coffee, has become a thing in the world of specialty coffee. Now billed “coffee drippers,” the simplest of manual coffee brewers have gotten a total glam facelift with new materials, new colors and new technology to make the most of the coffee you brew in it. Anyone who frequents independent coffee shops – or coffee lovers’ websites – has heard of the Kalita Wave, the Beehouse coffee dripper and the Hario V60. What makes these coffee drippers different from each other and which is the best one for you? These capsule descriptions of five popular coffee drippers/cup top brewers can help you make your decision.
Melita Pourover Coffee Brewing Cone
Melita originated the concept of brewing coffee with a cone-shaped filter, and the company has been selling pourover coffee brewing cones for more than 50 years. Today’s version is made of BPA-free plastic and features the signature vertical ribs in the sides of the V-shaped cone. The single small opening in the bottom of the cone controls the coffee:water contact time and drip rate.
Pros: You can’t beat the price. You can pick up a Melita Pourover Coffee Brewing Cone for $3 to $5.
The Melita Cone takes standard #2 or #4 cone coffee filters, depending on the size you choose. They’re easy to find at just about any supermarket.
Cons: Plastic tends to absorb odors and flavors. Eventually, you’ll notice coffee staining on the inside of the cone which could affect the flavor of your coffee.
The V60 cone brewer is made by the Japanese Hario glass company. It features two major design differences: a vortex of molded ribs that spiral around the interior and a large opening in the bottom. The ribs encourage better water distribution, greatly reducing the tendency of hot water to “channel” through coffee, over extracting some of the grounds and not touching the rest. The large hole is for the point of the heavy paper cone, which is where the water will all flow. The large hole means that the barista has more control over the flow of the water, and it’s generally accepted that the proper kettle and pouring technique are vital to getting a good cup of coffee with the V60 coffee dripper. It’s available in ceramic, glass and metal, in a variety of colors.
Pros: Made of non-porous materials that won’t absorb coffee oils. Ribbed vortex and large hole contribute to better extraction. Price is very reasonable, depending on which material you choose.
Cons: The V60 requires some practice to get the pouring technique right. The right pouring kettle also makes a big difference. The purchase of an appropriate gooseneck kettle can add considerably to the cost of a V60 setup. Uses specialty Hario filters which can be difficult to find.
Kalita, another Japanese company, makes the Wave coffee dripper, which is espoused by no less a coffee cognoscenti than Nick Cho, of Wrecking Ball coffee fame. The Kalita features a chopped cone with a flat bottom, which aficionados say promotes even extraction and makes the wave exceptionally easy to use. It’s available in glass, ceramic and stainless steel. The Wave dripper requires special filters, which are designed to sit suspended above the bottom of the Wave and minimize the contact between water and the walls of the brewer. Like the V60, the better your technique (and your kettle), the better the coffee will be.
Pros: The Kalita Wave makes good coffee and is easier to use than many other manual coffee drippers.
Cons: At about $30, the Wave is a pricier option than some of the others, and requires special filters for the best extraction.
Bee House Ceramic Coffee Dripper
The ceramic Bee House coffee dripper started the coffee house craze for hand-dripped coffee. Interior vertical ribs hold the coffee filter away from the sides of the brewer and encourage better water flow. The graceful lines of the ceramic dripper are distinctive and very attractive. It’s easy to master, and uses standard #2 or #4 cone filters, which can be found in any supermarket. It also features a little window that allows you to see how much coffee has dripped into the cup, which will help you avoid overflow.
Pros: At less than $20, the Bee House coffee dripper is reasonably priced for a ceramic dripper. It uses readily available coffee filters and looks great on your table.
Bonmac Single Hole Porcelain Filter Cone
Combine all the practical qualities of the standard Melita cone filter holder with smooth, non-porous porcelain, and you have the Bonmac porcelain filter cone. Unlike the Hario V60 or the Bonmac Pro, the Bonmac Filter Cone doesn’t require any special technique to use. It takes standard #2 cone filters and is priced at less than $14.
Pros: Easy to use, affordably priced and made of porcelain, the Bonmac is an all-around winner when it comes to cup-top single cup coffee brewers. Even Sweet Maria’s found that the coffee made with a Bonmac porcelain filter cone beat all the other filter cones in their collection for great flavor.