I’ve been looking for easy, budget-friendly methods to enjoy quality coffee at home for a while now. Nowadays, there are plenty of options for brewing a good cup that don’t require dropping hundreds on a fancy Italian machine. Each bring out different characteristics of the coffee bean, require different brewing times, grind sizes, amounts of coffee grounds, and require mastering different techniques. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to identify the characteristics that I enjoy, and I lack the diligence to scientifically chart and analyze what makes my favorite cup of joe.
Thank god for the internet, which lets me glom off the hard work of others and use their results. Today’s post focuses on the Kyoto Drip method, which is a (superfluously) elaborate contraption that a few 3rd wave coffee shops are using. My experience with Kyoto iced coffee is limited to Cafe Demitasse in Little Tokyo, LA, and for all its looks, I’ve got to admit that it brews a tasty cup of coffee.
Being a gadget-holic, I had to see if getting one would be feasible, but according to Amazon, it is not. (Actually, looking at it now, there’s one on Amazon for $240, which I might have considered purchasing. When I originally shopped around for it, I remember them being closer to $400-500.) The benefit of the Kyoto Drip setup is that it serves its primary function well, but also works as a nice decoration/conversation piece. Not easily deterred, I set about designing my own.
A quick google search will tell you that the key element of the coffee maker is basically what scientists call a Separatory Funnel that allows you to control the drip rate from the funnel. The rest is just a cylinder that holds the coffee grounds, a coil underneath that, and a vessel to collect the coffee. For more specific breakdowns of the components, I would visit:
Since I already own an Aeropress, which looks quite similar to the cylinder, I decided to incorporate that to save a few sheckles. The Aeropress has the added benefit of coffee filters that specifically fit inside, so you don’t need to spend time cutting your own filters to fit in there. The key difference is the way the coffee leaves the Aeropress, but whether that coil has any actual affect on the taste of the coffee is in doubt.
I tried to buy a separatory funnel on Amazon (actually Fulfilled by Amazon and sold by some other vendor), but the funnel arrived damaged, which a lot of other reviewers had already complained about. Buying legit lab equipment gets quite pricey, but I ended up finding a decent deal on The Lab Depot, Inc. for the stand, funnel, and I also picked up a beaker to complete the look. Without factoring in the cost of the Aeropress, I ended up spending around $80.
I’m still playing around with the grind size, while sticking with the ratio of 1g coffee:10mL brewed coffee. It’s actually harder to control the drip rate than most people let on, because even if you are able to set a certain rate, the weight of the water will be effected as it drains. All that being said, the coffee I’ve been brewing is consistent. Usually a bit more acidic than I would like and no bitterness. Like in some whiskeys, adding a few ice cubes makes it just right.