People have been debating drippers for as long as they have been brewing coffee using the pour over method. There are several things to think about, such as whether you want a flat bottom or a conical one, the appropriate size, and which filters to use.
The substance that is used in the production of the dripper is one of the factors that receives the least amount of attention. In spite of the fact that a lot of people think this doesn’t matter, the way in which your coffee is extracted does depend on it.
In order to get some insight into how the material of your dripper might affect your brew, I consulted a few specialists. Keep reading to find out what they had to say by clicking the link.
Which Variables Affect The Pour Over Process?
Coffee prepared using the pour over method is brewed using the percolation technique, which entails pouring hot water over coffee grinds and allowing it to filter through them into a container below. As the water passes through the coffee grinds, it is able to wash away any soluble flavour molecules that may be present in the coffee.
However, because of the filter (which is often made of paper but may alternatively be made of mesh or cloth), neither oils nor sediment are able to get through, resulting in a cup that is both lighter and cleaner.
The final flavour and scent of a cup is influenced by a wide variety of flavouring components, including oils, acids, and carbohydrates, amongst many others. Their growth and extraction are influenced by a number of factors, such as your brew ratio, the length of time you steep the coffee, the temperature of the water, and the material that your filter and dripper are made of.
Even when utilising the same beans, changing these elements as well as the other circumstances under which the coffee extracts are made may produce a completely different cup of coffee. For instance, if coffee is allowed to steep for a longer amount of time, the water will naturally spend more time interacting with the coffee grounds, which will result in the extraction of additional flavour components. In a similar manner, raising the temperature of the brewing process boosts both solubility and extraction.
Dripper Material & Brewing Temperature
The temperature of the water is well recognised as a significant factor that affects extraction. During the brewing process, the temperature of your cup may be affected by the different materials used in the dripper.
Coffee connoisseur and astrophysics expert Jonathan Gagné is from Montreal in the Canadian province of Quebec. He is the author of the Coffee ad Astra blog and is working on a book on the mechanics of filter coffee, which is scheduled for release later this year.
During the extraction process, the heat retention capabilities of a dripper are impacted by the material it is made of, as he explains to me. Different kinds of substances each have their own unique “thermal masses” and degrees of insulation, which indicates that they handle heat in a variety of distinct ways.
The “thermal mass,” which is a statistic that describes how much heat a material must absorb before its temperature increases, is the primary aspect to take into consideration in this scenario. For example, concrete and stone both need a large quantity of heat energy to be absorbed before they will start to warm up. They possess a substantial amount of thermal mass.
Wood and straw are examples of materials having low thermal masses, which means they heat up more quickly than other types of substances (and in some cases, catch fire).
According to Jonathan, drippers made of plastic and stainless steel are the most lightweight and have the lowest thermal masses compared to other materials. This suggests that they heat up more quickly and hence “take” less heat from the beverage that is being brewed. On the other hand, glass and ceramic need more time to reach the same temperature, which results in a greater loss of heat from your coffee.
On the other hand, Jonathan stresses the need of using insulation (heat retention). “Ceramic, glass, and stainless steel are all poor thermal insulators,” he continues. “Because of this, they will all leak some of their heat to the air around them, and then they will steal additional heat from the brew in order to re-establish balance.” In the end, there are only a few materials that have a low thermal mass and sufficient thermal insulation.
Moccamaster’s sales manager is Arnout de la Rambelje. He tells me that the Moccamaster is well-liked across Europe, despite the fact that winter temperatures there may fall to dangerously low levels. This indicates that most individuals choose to maintain the highest feasible temperature for their brewing process.
Polypropylene has been used in the production of Moccamaster’s filter holders ever since the year 1994. Arnout claims that the holders are constructed out of two layers of plastic (one flat and one ribbed), which work together to provide a “airbag” between the coffee filter and its holder. He asserts that doing so allows for more efficient heat retention.
Because of this, the Moccamaster’s polypropylene holders maintain a stable temperature during the extraction process, which improves homogeneity and, as a result, the quality of the finished cup. This is true even during the winter, when temperatures might drop significantly.
Temperature’s Effect On Stability
In Sao Paulo, Brazil, Cau Sperling is a barista at Fora da Lei, as well as a teacher and co-owner of the business. He informed me that at his café, clients are given the option to choose from a variety of drippers.
On the other hand, Cau claims that he strives for uniformity and a “thermal balance” throughout all of the drippers. In his explanation, he describes a thermal equilibrium as occurring when “the parts of a brewing system cease interacting with each other and extraction stabilises… it’s what we want in hand brewing.”
Jonathan is of the opinion that thermal insulation does really contribute to stability. “A more effective insulating material will keep your temperature consistent from the beginning to the completion of the brewing process.
“Even if you lower the kettle temperature and use a dripper with high insulation, you might get a different cup profile compared to what you get with a higher kettle temperature and a dripper with low insulation,” the author writes. “This is because the cup profile is determined by the temperature of the water in the kettle.”
According to Cau, this also assures that the outcome may be repeated. It is much simpler to replicate a coffee recipe when using a dripper that is reliable.
“At the end of the day, [it’s about] what requires less work from me and enables me to make coffee in the same manner over and over again,” said the coffee brewer.
Cau Sperling is a Brazilian barista, educator, and co-owner of Fora da Lei in So Paulo. He has been in the coffee industry for many years. He informed me that customers at his coffee shop had a selection of drippers from which to pick.
On the other side, Cau asserts that he makes an effort to maintain uniformity and “thermal balance” among the drippers. Thermal equilibrium, according to his definition, is “when the parts of a brewing system cease reacting with each other and extraction stabilises… that is what we aim for in hand brewing.”
Jonathan is in agreement that thermal insulation plays a role in maintaining stability. Your temperature will remain consistent from the beginning to the end if you use a high-quality insulating material.
Even if you reduce the temperature of the kettle and use a dripper with a high insulation rating, the cup profile you get may be different from what you would get if you used a kettle with a higher temperature and a dripper with a lower insulation rating.
In addition, this assures that the outcome will be reproducible, as stated by Cau. When using a dripper that is consistent, it is simpler to replicate a coffee recipe.
“At the end of the day, [it’s about] what involves the least amount of work from me and enables me to make coffee in the same manner over and over again,” said the coffee brewer.
This is not to indicate that if you use a dripper that is not made of plastic, you will have unfavourable results. To prevent the material from taking on the temperature of the brew, heavy substances like glass and porcelain may be warmed.
Additionally, stainless steel and copper may be warmed, but due to the rapid rate at which they release heat, this process should only be carried out for a few seconds before being put to use.
According to Cau, plastic drippers allow for a more stable temperature to be maintained with much less labour. The temperatures that are required to properly heat glass and ceramics are almost exactly the same.
When something like this occurs, I adjust the brewing process such that the temperature of the first pour is lower.
Jonathan goes on to claim that as he has gained “more experience” and “better control of factors,” he has realised that various materials produce drastically different cup profiles. He says this “with more knowledge” and “more control of variables.”
He goes on to say that some materials, such as glass or ceramic, provide a cup that is less robust and more acidic than plastic does. Because there is less heat retention, the overall temperature of the brew is lower. This results in a greater emphasis on the brew’s acidity, while sweetness and body are diminished.
Which Dripper Material Is For You?
Even if the stability of your brew and the quality of the extraction might be affected by the material of the dripper, you need also take into account some more practical concerns.
It is essential, for instance, to take into consideration the dripper’s lifetime. Can it be twisted, dented, or shattered with little effort? If you simply use it in your kitchen, you probably won’t run into this problem. If you plan to bring it with you, there is a possibility that it will.
How well does the material hold up when exposed to high temperatures and chemical agents? Will it gently absorb any acid residue that may be left behind from your coffee or cleaning products? Although they are more likely to get stained, acrylic drippers have the advantage of being lightweight and having an uncluttered design. This makes them suitable for repeated usage.
The issue of money brings this whole discussion to a close. Polypropylene and resin acrylic drippers have a lower initial investment but a shorter lifespan than other materials. Ceramic and copper both have a longer lifespan, although ceramic and copper are more costly.
People who are just starting out with pour over coffee may want to consider using a dripper made of polypropylene since it is an excellent all-around option. Cau further notes that it is the dripper that offers the most value for the money. It requires less control and is less impacted by the factors you choose to brew with. When compared to a ceramic dripper, a glass dripper does not need as much hot water to be used in order to preheat it.
I also agree with Jonathan. According to him, the Fellow Stagg [X] is his personal favourite dripper at the moment. It features a vacuum-insulated double wall, which, in my view, results in cups that are sweeter and more juicy.
“Another wonderful choice is the Hario V60, which is made of plastic, is more frequently used, and is great for reproducing experiences and recipes found on the internet.”
The important takeaway is that the material of the dripper has an effect on the temperature of the brew, which in turn has an effect on the extraction and alters the cup profile.
When choosing a dripper, bear in mind that temperature is only one of many factors to take into account. Think about if you want to try new things or whether you would prefer something that is straightforward and reliable. In addition, your money, ability level, and lifestyle are all going to be important considerations. People who make a lot of coffee on the road, for example, should not use glass drippers since they are not practical.
When picking a material, take these properties into consideration first, and then think about how repeatable it is. Plastic and other materials with a low thermal mass make it possible to easily reproduce the same brew. On the other hand, glass and ceramic are more likely to under-extract the liquid, which results in a beverage that is more acidic.