We’ve all heard about the Kalita Wave series. It practically took the industry by storm and is now up there with the likes of Hario V60 and Chemex as rulers of the pour over brewers. But Kalita still has another product that isn’t as popular that’s called the Kalita 102 Dripper.
The Kalita 102 Dripper is a pour-over ceramic coffee dripper that could serve 2 to 4 cups per pour. Essentially, this product is almost the same as the Melitta 102. But the Melitta 102 as it’s sold primarily in Europe, while the Kalita 102 is easier to buy in the US and around Asia.
Kalita 102 Dripper Design
The design is a basic wedge type coffee brewer. Some people argue that there is a tendency for over-extraction of the beans at the bottom of the wedge. But done properly, these wedge shaped brewers could produce the best type of coffee out, comparable to the other pour over brewers.
To help with extraction, it has ridges that are lined up inside that go all the way up to the top of the dripper.
Finally, it has 3 holes that are lined up at the bottom for a lot faster water extraction. This means that pouring technique plays a significant role in making your coffee.
This Kalita coffee dripper has its own 102 paper filters. But you could also use Melitta #2 paper filters.
Material Variations of the Kalita 102 Dripper
The Kalita 102 comes in three types of materials:
I know there has, is, and forever will be a lot of debate regards to ceramics vs plastics. But I’d just like to point out that Kalita does cater to the two markets. I personally prefer the ceramics, but the ridges on the plastic ones seem to be more pronounce, which would translate to faster extraction as the water will literally just flow through the dripper and not pass through the dripper walls.
Now I have the white ceramic dripper, but my personal favorite is this brown Kalita 102 dripper which really looks elegant. I bought the white one because I wanted to see the extraction better, until I remembered that I could use the paper filter to see that… Oh well… I’ll probably get the brown one when I have a substantial collection of all the other products.
As for the copper dripper, it’s more of a high end design and they claim that it “maximizes the intrinsic coffee aroma”. I don’t know if it really does that, but since it’s made of metal, it should heat up the fastest, and it should keep heat longer than the ceramic or plastic counterparts.
Other Size Variants
This will be a short section, but it’s important to tell you that there are other sizes to the Kalita ceramic dripper series. These are the:
- Kalita 101, which makes 1-2 cups of coffee; and the
- Kalita 103, which makes 4-7 cups of coffee
Now let’s move on to the more technical aspects brewing with the Kalita 102.
Let’s talk about Grind Sizes
We all know grind sizes are highly subjective. But to start with, you’d want to try a little finer than medium grind for this brewer. I start with a setting of 14 on the Baratza Encore (it has a gauge of 1-40) and adjust my grind settings and brewing time from there.
Recently, I tried out someone else’s grind setting of 12 (finer than medium setting) on some medium roasted Kenyan beans. I thought that I’d come out with an overly bitter tasting cup. But the resulting cup came out strong, but surprisingly sweet. The longer steep time was able to extract the more acidic aspects of the beans as well. I came out with a strong, yet non-offensive tasting coffee. And I might actually try this setting again soon.
Pour Over Technique?
As for technique, I must admit that I’m not great in any way. I practically just started out with the pour over method. And I’m not using a fancy kettle yet. Instead, I took out my grandmother’s old tea kettle, gave it a good cleaning, and started pouring with that. It’s no Hario buono kettle, but it get the job done until I could get my hands on a gooseneck kettle.
One thing I observed with this dripper is how you could control the taste of the coffee by controlling the depth of the brew. Putting in more water will make the Kalita pour out coffee faster; and slow and precise pouring will yield a lower coffee bed, longer steep time, and stronger coffee.
Pouring will be a huge factor in the output of your coffee using the Kalita, so in my opinion, the best tip is to get your pouring technique consistent and use the grind size to come up with your perfect coffee cup.
Is the Kalita 102 any good?
Now, even with all these variables like grind size and technique, I still find that that Kalita 102 is a surprisingly forgiving brewer. You could go for finer grinds, but the 3 holes will still make your coffee drip faster than other 1 hole drippers, which in turn allows faster extraction times. And you still come up with a strong, yet fully flavored cup of coffee.
Conversely, you could go for coarser grinds, allowing faster flow. I found that this method worked well in brewing semi-dark and dark roasted grounds where you come out with a strong, bitter tasting coffee with subtle flavors.
Depending on the grind size or technique you have, the Kalita 102 will get you at least a bearable to a great cup of coffee. With a more experienced and better pouring technique, this baby could consistently make you great cups of coffee and it would probably make your friends come back to you for mor. I’d recommend it to pour over coffee beginners as the learning curve with the Kalita 102 isn’t steep at all. But the basrista that I was talking to also prefers using the 102 as compared to other drippers like the Hario V60 because it suits his pouring style more, and he could best extract the flavors with the 102, so this is also a really good product for experienced home or professional baristas. I tried his (the barista’s) brew and made it as my benchmark; and until now, I can’t replicate the taste, which probably goes to show that I have to refine my technique more. However, I’m still able to come up with some pretty good coffee so that makes me pretty satisfied for now while i keep honing my techniques and grind sizes.
But there are some drawbacks to the brewer
The biggest drawback that I’ve experienced is that there’s no viewing hole on the bottom of the dripper. So you can’t see how high your coffee level already is. On one of my brews, I totally forgot to throw away the water I used for pre-heating my mug. In the middle of brewing, the coffee started spilling over my mug. I thought I already added too much weight until I remembered I forgot to throw the pre-heating water from the mug away. In the end, I had to throw away the whole batch and didn’t end up making a new batch.
To Sum It All Up
To sum it all up, here are the Pros and Cons of this brewer:
- a forgiving brewer
- designed for faster extractions
- great for beginners
- (in my experience) doesn’t need a gooseneck kettle to make a good cup of coffee
- plus points for fun factor
- no viewing hole to see height of brew
- needs more skill in pouring technique than other single hole, wedge-shaped drippers
- not to be used when you have a large crowd (any regular auto drip would beat you)
Would I recommend this product?
Putting the viewing hole issue aside, I’d give a definite yes! I’ve used this for over a month and had a considerably great time in making my coffee. Sometimes, I even look forward to the process of making coffee rather than drinking it because of the fun factor that pour overs have.