Kalita 102 Dripper – Is it any good?

By | February 6, 2015

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

Kalita 102 DripperThe 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:

  • Ceramic
  • Plastic
  • Copper

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.

Kalita Ceramic Coffee Dripper (Brown) for 2-4 Cups

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

Kalita 102 Dripper undersideThe 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:

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

 

10 thoughts on “Kalita 102 Dripper – Is it any good?

  1. Thomas Gormley

    Its great to read an article by an expert which you obviously are. Really great information its something that I do not know a lot about but I enjoyed your post. great job well done.

    Reply
    1. Darwin Post author

      Thanks so much Thomas! And it’s great to know that I was able to share some information with you 🙂

      Reply
  2. Spitz

    Nice review on these products, cool to read how much you seem to enjoy making your coffee this way! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Darwin Post author

      Yes the process is pretty awesome Spitz 🙂 Hope you could give it a try someday 🙂

      Reply
  3. Arturo

    Thanks for the write up. I have the Melitta 102 (via Starbucks label) with one hole and the 2 hole Counter Culture dripper. I like the looks of the Kalita 102 and may buy one based on your review. Thanks again.

    Reply
  4. harmeetkala

    thanks for the review. i am curious about the copper dripper and how it compares to the ceramic dripper. also, have you tried the bonmac dripper??? if so, any thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Darwin Post author

      Hi Harmeetkala,

      I only read about the copper dripper being more heat efficient than the ceramic dripper. I have the ceramic dripper now, and I’m very happy with it.

      As for the Bonmac, a barista made a Brazilian coffee for me using one. The taste profile of that one is really nice as well, I tasted a really good balance between acidic and bold flavors. UCC Cafe uses Bonmac drippers because they say it’s easy to use and produces a really good cup. Technique is still important though.

      As to which i prefer, i must say i really don’t know. I don’t have a Bonmac yet, but having a Kalita and a Hario V60, i found out they give distinctive flavors, even when using the same beans! I think your collection will grow in time, but buy what your gut tells you first.

      Thanks for reading and happy coffee brewing!

      Reply
  5. Randyl

    As a beginner, I would like to share my experience as well. I used a kalita 101 plastic dripper and I’m lovin it. I figured it out that the drip goes down fast (because it has 3 holes) and when I grind my coffee medium coarse, it really drip fast and the coffee is under extracted (in my opinion). So i tried to grind my coffee in between fine grind (espresso grind) and medium coarse and started pouring slowly hot water. Now the drip goes slowly and smoothly and I noticed that the extract is perfect (in my opinion). Upon reading this article, I’ve decided to try other drippers as well, looking for ward to get the V60

    Reply
    1. Darwin Post author

      Yes the 101 and 102 have the same design, only with different capacities. I recently bought the Bonmac dripper that can make 1 or 2 cups of coffee max, and I found that it could make really excellent coffee. It only has one hole, but weirdly enough, I find that it doesn’t drip slower than the 3 holed Kalita drippers. Grind size really does affect the brew time and overall taste though. That, and also the brew method (example, filling the hot water all the way to the brim vs pulse brewing at a lower brew depth).

      Do try the V60 if you could. I think it produces a different taste to the ones made by the Kalita. Maybe it’s because of the dripper design? I find that the water drains a lot faster too, so there is a bit more control needed in your pour than the Kalita.

      Thanks for reading Randyl and keep enjoying the coffee that you make 🙂

      Reply

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