If you’re looking for innovations in manual brewing, look no further than the US Brewer’s Cup, where the best brewers in the country come together to showcase their skills. As a brewer’s cup judge, I got to experience presentations where a brewer prepares a cup of specialty coffee in an innovative way that brings out particular characteristics of the coffee they’ve chosen. After seeing many presentations throughout the weekend of the 2022 US Brewer’s Cup, I noticed a common thread of brewing devices and concepts that are taking over the world of manual brewing in 2022.
#1: The Orea brewer + filter system
The Orea brewer boasts a totally flat bottom and large drain holes, which ensure a more consistent and even extraction, as well as a faster flow rate. With a faster flow rate, the brewer is able to grind finer and increase extraction and perception of body.
While a Kalita filter can be used, the brewer’s own filter system allows for minimal bypass, with the paper from the filter adhering to the sides of the brewer. What happens normally is that water can flow through the sides of the brewer, rather than passing through the bed of coffee, creating uneven extractions. With the no bypass filter, the filter firmly adheres to the sides of the brewer, forcing all of the water to pass through the bed of coffee rather than flow down the sides of the brewer. The result is an even extraction with a high concentration of flavor.
#2: The Tricolate
Flat-bottom brewers were a consistent theme for brewer's cup, with the Tricolate brewer making an appearance more than once. When manually brewing, it’s important to control your flow rate and pour height in order to control the agitation of the brew. This is why, when making pour overs, it’s highly recommended to use a gooseneck kettle to manually control these elements.
The Tricolate has a dispersion screen that controls the flow rate of the percolation of the water through the coffee, and the default height of this screen controls the height of the pour, and therefore the agitation. This helps develop consistently high extractions without much effort, and without the need for a fancy kettle. Additionally, the flat bottom and well-fitting filter prevent water from bypassing the bed of coffee, ensuring that all water passes through the coffee and develops a nice even extraction.
#3: The Melodrip
As with the Tricolate, the Melodrip controls the percolation of the water through the coffee, but via a small disc-sized tool. This tool ensures that your pour is stable, and will help even out any inconsistencies. Unevenness in your pour can cause uneven wetting of the coffee, but the Melodrip ensures an even saturation of the bed of coffee by stabilizing the pour.
Agitation increases extraction and causes microparticles to pass through the filter into the final brew, while the Melodrip’s gentle shower prevents microparticles from passing through the filter. This results in an overall sweeter cup with more clarity and a pleasant body. One of the key benefits of the Melodrip is the ability to apply it to any brewer of your choice.
#4: The Origami Dripper
Not only does the Origami dripper do an excellent job retaining heat, by design, it speeds up your brew time so that you can grind finer and increase your overall extraction. In order to make this happen, the individual folds on the brewer work to increase airflow. While it’s possible to use a cone-shaped or flat-bottom filter for either, in my experience the cups I’ve brewed with flat-bottom Kalita filters have had the most clarity and the highest sweetness.
Overall, the brewing trends of the weekend focused on creative ways to control agitation and flow rate, with a focus on achieving high extractions to develop a cup bursting with sweetness and clarity.
With the Orea brewer, a flat bottom helps promote an even extraction. The larger drain holes in the Orea help promote a speedier flow so that you are able to grind finer and increase the extraction without clogging the brew itself. The Origami dripper shares this trait with the Orea, with a large drain and many folds to promote airflow, to speed the flow of water through the coffee.
Devices like the Melodrip and innovations like the Tricolate brewer focus on an even, measured percolation, preventing microparticles from entering the brew–resulting in high flavor clarity.
And finally, the idea of no-bypass brewing was common in both the Orea brewer and the Tricolate. This ensures all of the brew’s water touches the coffee and promotes a higher, more even extraction of the coffee particles.