Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Dec 11, 2010 12:33 AM

Drip coffee techniques (split from L.A. board)

The Chowhoud Team split this thread from the Los Angeles Region board. For local recommendations of L.A. area coffee shops, please go here:

* * * * * * *

What's the difference in taste for drip pour over coffee if I used clever dripper vs v60 vs the melitta vs any other drip pour over method. Are there any coffee shops that offer classes or do it so I could taste the difference.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm no expert, but here is my understanding. How much is extracted from coffee grounds depends on how long the water is in contact with the grounds, which depends, in turn, on the shape of the filter. If, for instance, the shape of the filter is a tall cone that comes to a sharp point, it will take a long time for the water to filter through, so there will be high extraction. If the shape is a short cylinder with a flat bottom, it won't take long for the water to filter through, so there will be low extraction. Thus, the taste of a pour-over coffee is largely dependent on the shape of the filter.

    Spring for Coffee is a good place to compare Chemex with v60, since they offer both (as well as french press) for all their coffees and they make it right in front of you. When you watch, you'll notice that the v60 pour-over proceeds much faster than the Chemex pour-over, resulting in a lighter, more delicate coffee. (I'm not certain that this is entirely due to the filter shape, however. They may use a coarser grind for the v60, which creates more little passages for the water to seep through, thereby speeding the pour-over and lowering the extraction.)

    1. Hobbess, you should try them out! Cafecito Organico on Hoover uses the Clever Dripper. The concept is interesting but I've never tried it. If you stop by Intelligentsia in Pasadena, they usually have a coffee available on the v60 and the chemex.

      A lot of what determines the taste for pour over coffee is technique. The v60 and the chemex are kind of similar in how drastically your technique affects the taste of your cup because of the huge holes on the bottom of both of them. If you pour too quickly, you get an acrid taste because the coffee is under-extracting (the water is cutting mostly right through the water instead of extracting the coffee goodness out of the coffee grounds). If you pour too slowly, you get a bitter and over-extracted cup.

      The Melitta, however, is a little different because of its shape. The sides aren't round, but straight, ridged surfaces that slant towards the center. Because of this, I think the extraction isn't as even as the cone shapes of the chemex and the v60.

      Besides technique, so many other things affect the end result, like sushigirlie mentioned, like the amount of coffee you use (dosage), and your grind size too. If you make it out to Spring for Coffee, Cafecito, or Intelli, fill us in!

      Cafecito Orgánico
      534 N Hoover St, Los Angeles, CA 90004

      14 Replies
      1. re: yangjon


        Right now, I'm leaning towards manual pour over and I'd love hear more about the best or your favorite manual pour over. Even if I decide on manual pour over, there are just so many variations- bee dripper, clever coffee dripper, bonmac, melitta, chemex, v60, etc..

        If the potential problem with v60 and chemex is the large hole at the bottom, does this mean that I should look look a manual with a small hole? And, how many small holes? I've seen some with only 1 small hole, while others have 3?

        The implication of the large hole seems to be that you really have to master technique. But, is the inverse true, where technique isn't as important for something with small hole? I'm intimidated by the Hario v60. And, I've seen multiple techniques for Chemex so I'm confused with that. How you know if you're pouring too fast or too slow until you taste the coffee?

        Great tasting coffee is important, but if I don't have to spend hours mastering technique which I'm unlikely to remember early in the morning anyways , all the more better!

        1. re: hobbess

          You don't know if any of your variables (grind size, water amount, water temperature) are off until you actually do it, taste it, and establish a baseline.

          So if you know Chemex has a larger hole and thus shorter infusion time than the Clever Coffee Dripper, which you can control, you can try grinding finer for the Chemex. In my Melitta filter, I use an espresso grind size.

          If the Hario V60 intimidates you, don't get it. I think people are attracted to it for that Japanese aesthetic, anyway.

          If you have the money, I would spring for the Hario kettle. It is fantastic.

          1. re: jaykayen

            Another reason I might stay away from the v60 is that I don't want to make the concomitant purchase of the Hario kettle. That kettle may be kawaii, but in the back of my head, I don't want to spend fifty or sixty bucks on that kettle. I look at it, and wonder why there can't be a cheaper alternative to the Buono kettle, something with a similar spout.

            1. re: hobbess

              What will you use for a grinder?

              1. re: jaykayen

                I got a really good price for a burr grinder, but I'm thinking of returning it if I end up choosing Team Manual Drip. For espresso and to lesser extent with french press, its more important to get the best burr grinder you can afford than when you're doing manual drip.

                Plus, I have some concerns about this particular burr grinder's durability and lifespan after reading reviews about it. I don't know if its worth all that risk and hassle for a grinder that's going to be overkill for manual drip.

              2. re: hobbess

                I too had similar reservations against buying a Buono, but I did buy the v60. It's now replaced my French press for the better.

                Thus far I've just been using my French press pitcher along with a chopstick to more accurately guide the stream, kind of what this guy is doing.


                Works pretty well, and I won't have to find additional space in my cabinets to store a Buono kettle.

            2. re: hobbess

              Hey Hobbess,

              The larger hole is intimidating, but with good technique, you can get a lot more out of your cup! The technique is tricky but not as mysterious as it seems. The most important thing is that you keep a slow, but steady stream. There are a lot of good youtube videos out there to help too (like sweet maria's). It just takes a little repetition to get used to it (like riding a bike). I would actually use the same technique for the chemex. The Hario kettle jaykayen mentioned (or any kettle with a long spout) also really helps you control your pour.

              Small holes do slow down the extraction, so they're more forgiving. But the end result usually isn't as complex and nice though. I used Melitta pour-overs, but when I tried the v60's, I couldn't go back.

              I still haven't tried them, but the Clever Coffee Dripper seems like the best solution. Great extraction, but you don't have to worry about mastering a technique. Sweet Maria's gave a good description here:


              Very true though, tasty coffee is important, but tasty coffee that isn't a hassle in the morning is nice!

              1. re: yangjon

                What exactly does a bigger hole do? If its purpose is to speed up extraction, isn't that a bad thing?

                Is there any scientific or physic explanation about the small hole vs big hole for a coffee dripper?

                1. re: hobbess

                  The larger hole allows for more control over the extraction. With smaller holes, you can pretty much dump in hot water and let the extraction take care of itself because the flow of water is restricted (only so much liquid can pass through the tiny 1-2-or 3 holes at a time). The benefit to Melitta and other pour-overs (like the Bee House dripper) is that you'll still get a decent cup if you aren't paying that much attention to your pour because it's restricting the flow of water for you.

                  With larger holes, if you were to just dump in water, you'd get a gross and underextracted cup. But, if you control your flow and use proper technique, you can get a really dynamic cup. The benefit with the bigger holes is that it allows for more control over flow rate. You have to coax the deliciousness out of those coffee grounds.

                  So, small hole restricts flow but also cuts out your ability to control flow. Big holes allow control over flow, but also leave potential for under-extraction. More/bigger holes will drain faster and require more technique. The first is safe, and will consistently get you an decent to good cup. The second is risky, but if done right you get a distinct and defined cup that you probably wouldn't get out of the Melitta or Bee House.

                  The Clever is like what paulj mentioned. Brews like a french press, without the problem of sediments in your cup or heat loss. A little more convenient than using a sauce pan (don't need to transfer from pan through strainer, clean up is super easy, and less heat loss because the surface area is smaller and they also come with lids).

                  There are really pros and cons to v60s, chemex, and pour-overs with small holes like Melittas and Bee House drippers. If you're a bit rushed in the mornings, I would probably go with either a Bee House or Clever dripper. They're both also really affordable (about $15), and you'll consistently get a decent cup of coffee.

                  1. re: yangjon

                    If you have multiple small holes, doesn't that add up to a big hole and so that dripper would become more technique-dependent like the Hario V60?

                    I've been hearing buzz about the Kalita Wave ceramic dripper and that it will give you consisently good coffee without needing to master technique. But, it has three small holes at the bottom and I was thinking that the fluid passing through those three holes would be the same as if you had one big hole.

                    I'm curious about the underlying science that would explain why Kalita Wave would be superior, or if the Kalita Wave is getting hype as the newest coffee du jour. If you were to reverse engineer the perfect pour over dripper, what would it look like.

            3. re: yangjon

              The Clever Dripper is essential the steep and strain method. For that I just heat a mug full of water in a small sauce pan. Just off boil I add the grounds to that water, in the pan. Let it steep a couple of minutes, and then strain through a fine mesh strainer. The strainer should match the grind - fine enough to catch all but the finest, coarse enough to drain rapidly.

              If using a fine grind I'll strain through a Melita paper filter. The steep time can be shorter to allow for the longer drain time for the paper. A fine grind also requires a short steeping time.

              The alternative with the paper is to just add water at the appropriate rate. One or two pours for a faster brew, drip by drip for an extended brew. A long spout tea kettle may make it easier to control the pour, especially drip by drip, but isn't absolutely necessary. I tried to emulate one of the extended drips on Youtube (where the water level never rises above the grounds), and found that it made the coffee too strong.

              1. re: paulj

                I'm kind of backing off the clever dripper because of Scott Rao's comments about it and my concerns that its plastic instead of something like ceramic.

                So, now, I'm thinking of going syphon, aka vacuum brewer. Is there a difference between Hario's and Yama's syphon brewers? Which one would you choose?

                1. re: hobbess

                  The clever uses a paper filter. The coffee doesn't touch any plastic. Why the concern?


                  1. re: poser

                    I'd mainly prefer ceramic to plastic because ceramic retains heat better than plastic, alongside any nagging thoughts about the high heat causing plastic to leach chemicals into the liquid.

                    Scott Rao, who literally wrote the book about coffee, has been credited with helping to bring the Clever Coffee dripper but he's now not a fan of it. According to Rao, the Clever loses too much heat and the drawdown time is too long.