Some years ago, Prima Coffee asked me to write a blog post comparing an assortment of flat-bottom pour-over drippers and I was surprised by which one was my favorite of the bunch: the Blue Bottle Coffee Dripper. I had borrowed it from Prima, and was a little sad to give it back, but also couldn’t really justify buying another brewing device.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, where I found myself at the Blue Bottle Coffee on Broadway in Lower Manhattan and in need of a 2-cup coffee dripper, preferably flat-bottomed. I noticed the handsome porcelain device while waiting in a socially distanced queue and impulse bought it.
Since then, I’ve used the Blue Bottle Coffee Dripper 2-3 times a day, and have developed further thoughts on the device.
Much like Blue Bottle’s lauded cafés, the device is beautiful with incredible attention to detail— down to the packaging. The dripper is made out of porcelain by the family-owned Kyuemon Ceramics factory in Arita, Japan, and the craftsmanship is clear. The porcelain feels both delicate and sturdy. The handle is striking and functional. There’s no question this is a thoughtfully designed device.
From a brewing perspective, perhaps the key design feature is the 40 ridges along the sidewall and bed which lead to a single hole in the middle of the device. According to the manual, the system “is based on the capillary system found in nature — like the way a tree transports water from its roots to its leave.”
Whether or not that’s true, it’s certainly these 40 ridges that set in apart from the Kalita Wave et al.
At $25, the Blue Bottle Coffee Dripper is very competitively priced. It’s only slightly more expensive than a porcelain Hario V60 02, and it certainly feels more elegant. My favorite feature is the single hole in the center of the device— universally found in larger batch brewers but oddly missing in pour-over drippers. Coffee professionals smarter than me have debated whether it actually lends itself to a more even extraction. In my perspective, it certainly couldn’t hurt.
The spout is very smartly designed, creating a beautiful steady stream of coffee while brewing. It might only be an aesthetic feature, but isn’t brewing coffee by hand mostly aesthetic anyway?
Perhaps the only potential issue from a technical perspective is flow rate. As far as specialty coffee roasters go, Blue Bottle is on the darker side, and I have no doubt the flow rate of the device is well-calibrated for a well-developed coffee. But lighter roasters are denser and tend toward longer brew times. Some of the coffee I tested the dripper with was very lightly roasted and I struggled to get brew times under 4 minutes when brewing 360 ml of coffee. Fans of Nordic-level light roasts might be better off buying an April Coffee Brewer, which has a much faster flow rate.
No offense to Blue Bottle, but perhaps the biggest drawback is the branding. I enjoy buying coffee from a wide variety of roasters, and it feels strange brewing coffee from a different roaster while looking at Blue Bottle’s distinctive logo. A petty qualm, perhaps, that may not bother most homebrewers.
Finally, the manual suggests an unbelievably strong ratio of 30 grams of coffee to 350 ml of water (more than 1:12!) I did not use this recipe and recommend following a more conventional 1:16-1:17.
Despite a plethora of drippers on the market, this is the device I find myself reaching for these days when I want to make 1-2 cups of coffee. The Blue Bottle Coffee Dripper is a beautiful, functional piece of equipment and welcome addition to our collection.