melodrip brewing: why so complicated?

melodrip brewing: why so complicated?

Posted by ray murakawa on

melodrip was NOT specifically designed to eliminate or minimize agitation. Although it does this very well, agitation is imperative to exposing low-concentration water to soluble coffee compounds and the best way of quickly delivering heat and hydration to the brewbed; so when necessary, this step must not be overlooked.

melodrip was developed as tool for reducing particle suspension in the slurry. Period. The current melodrip method aims to minimize the amount of insoluble particulate matter that is discharged from the filter paper.

 The average median porosity of commercial filter paper has a retention greater than ~30 microns, and is not designed to efficiently retain particles smaller than this. If you refer to coffee grind particle distribution charts, you will see there is a considerable volume of fines equal to and smaller in this range. So when brewing coffee, smaller suspended particles have a higher tendency to be carried along with out-flowing fluid, regardless of technique.

 The melodrip method at its rough current state, is designed to minimize this discharge of insoluble particles. These particles can adhere to taste receptors and cause a phenomenon called ‘Receptor Blockade’, (m. petracco illycaffe’ ) in which our perception of certain flavors are obscured.

 This is very simple to examine. Place an evenly mixed sample of coffee into a centrifuge and separate. You will see that coffee filtered with any conventional manual brewer includes insoluble particles.

 Why so complicated?

 Why do companies spend millions of dollars investing in multi stage pressure and temperature profiling systems for espresso machines? Or the development of software and automated devices to that maintain temperature curves for roasting? Aside from the financial case of the ROI associated with espresso drinks, the simple answer is-Coffee is complicated. This goes for espresso, ibrik, immersion, filter, nel drip and all brewing methods.

 The reason why some coffee people complain that coffee is underpriced and undervalued is because they don’t realize it’s potential is far from being untapped. If we are able to express the complexity of this product even further, we can also better translate it's value to the customer. This is a raw product that takes years to grow and harvest to quality standards, and thus takes a lot of attention to prepare until it is a beverage that can be imbibed by the masses.

 Damn right it’s complicated.

 Simplifying the preparation of this produce does not happen at the farm, at the roaster, in its education and research, nor should it be done with the tools that are designed to get the most value out of it.

 If I was satisfied with hitting EYs and TDS to validate coffee’s potential, this would limit my ability to research outside the box and discover unknown perspectives as a tools developer.

 There are plenty of other developers trying to improve coffee brewers because it’s easy to market and takes little education for the customer. The customer we are interested in, shares our mentality of exploring the undefined. melodrip is still experimental and requires a high learning curve, so if it’s used without proper understanding of its intent, it will deliver lackluster results.

 As a primer, this is how I recommend using melodrip. 

Each step is developed in coordination of how the brewbed behaves during specific stages of the brewing process.  If you have any questions as to why this is the way it is, I’ll be happy to answer!

What you need:

  • Un-Sieved Medium Fine Grind. Recommended to coarse 1 notch finer than usual.
  • Preferably, a Flat Bottom Brewer. Cone Brewers may require finer grind and can produce excessive transparency even with high tds%.
  • 15g Coffee
  • 240g Water
  • 210f Temp
  • Med-Fine Grind


Preparing the coffee brewbed for extraction:

This is the most crucial stage in brewing.  Skipping these steps is equivalent to pulling an espresso shot without tamping. 


Goals:  The goal is to saturate slowly to prevent the formation of a foam slurry or floating crust, in which degassing coffee floats above water in a large mass and which minimizes effective hydration.  The slow pulse pours will saturate the brewbed and simultaneously dissipate bubbles before diffusion can proceed optimally.


  • Pour water slowly in a circular motion onto melodrip. Pulse 10g water, wait several seconds, add 10g water, wait several seconds, add 10g water.  Each time adjusting the location of the dish with the intent of fully saturating the surface of the brewbed.  After achieving 2x water:coffee saturation, immediately mix brewbed with the glass stick to eliminate clumps.  Mixing with the stick is important as it saturates the bloom evenly.  If you skip this step, the slurry may develop channeling during the diffusion phase.


Diffusion Phase:

Goals:  Focus on maintaining the porosity of the brewbed and keep the waterline close to the surface of the brewbed to deliver frequent doses of low concentration water, and maintain an even flowrate.


To do this, use the least amount of agitation so fines are rinsed to the bottom depths of the brewbed to promote cake filtration.  The reduced agitation will also reduce pressure against the filter wall and minimize particle suspension.  Both will help minimize particle discharge.

  • After a 30sec bloom, repeatedly pulse 10g of Water, wait until the waterline lowers to the brewbed surface (3-5sec).  Continue to repeat until you hit 200g Water.
  • Finally, Pour 20g Water with a bare kettle.  Then pour 20g Water with a bare kettle again to finish off the brew. This final step will help squeeze any leftover compounds from larger particles.  After roughly 80% of the brew, bare kettle pouring does not greatly impact the discharge of fine particles out of the filter.

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