Manual brewing equipment maker Melodrip is launching a brewer of its own, a pourover assembly with a conical bottom called the Colum.
Featuring a stainless steel conical filter holder that supports a borosilicate glass column, the brewer is designed to eliminate the effect known as bypass, in which water passes outside the coffee brew bed as opposed to through it.
Pre-orders for the Melodrip Colum Mini Dripper launched today through an IndieGoGo campaign. The device is the small California company’s second product after the eponymous pourover tool it introduced about five years ago.
In popular brewing theory, water that bypasses the coffee bed fails to contribute to extraction while brewing, leading to an unbalanced and less efficiently extracted cup. This has led to an emergence of new brewers promising “zero bypass” for more thorough extraction, empowering baristas to choose whether or not to dilute the cup after brewing.
The Colum’s conical format represents a design departure from the mostly flat-bottom brewers that have populated the zero-bypass playing field to this point. Forerunners in this field include the flat-bottom Tricolate brewer that emerged from Australia in 2018 and the larger NextLevel brewer that hit the market in March 2021. Spanish paper filter-maker Sibarist touted the bypass-diminishing properties of its Fast Flat filters that launched in January of this year.
In the Colum, a part between the glass column and the filter holder called the filter ring seals the glass against the paper for the zero-bypass effect. The ridges in the Colum’s base are also optimized to maintain the zero-bypass effect while preserving the flow characteristics of a conical brewer, according to Melodrip Founder Ray Murakawa.
“The original conical drippers were intended to make free flowing nel-drip/cloth filter methods simple for the home user, so many conical drippers’ inner ribs extended from the bottom to top to allow lateral fluid flow for large puffy blooms and large doses (+25g) which were standard in the early days,” Murakawa recently told DCN via email. “Fast forward a decade to smaller single-serve doses and a variety of pour styles from light to heavy, this free flowing design of many traditional drippers is not ideal for all brewing needs.”
The focus of the original Melodrip device is to control the stream of water from a pourover kettle to more precisely control how the water agitates the grounds. The Colum can be used with or without the Melodrip tool.
“The narrow chamber of the Colum creates a relatively taller and thicker slurry, improving slurry filtration for a super clean cup, similar to a conical dripper,” said Murakawa. “Colum is cleaner than a standard dripper without Melodrip, though using the Melodrip to maintain a stable slurry during pours and percolation will increase flavor clarity and extraction.”
The small size of the Colum Mini Dripper’s paper filters is also intentional. While accommodating doses from about 12 to 30 grams of coffee for one or two brewed cups, the Colum’s paper filters contain roughly half the amount of paper used in brewers of comparable sizes.
“Our preferred cup profile is extreme flavor clarity at high extractions, and the Colum reflects that vision,” said Murakawa. “The no-bypass design of the Colum works irrespective of the filtration medium, but our design decisions were focused on flavor and extraction potential along with sustainability. This doesn’t mean we aren’t experimenting with a reusable filter option, though.”
The Colum’s ring-and-column assembly is also compatible with other pourover brewers, according to the company.
Said Murakawa, “We’re currently testing compatible drippers so we’ll provide a list of best fit drippers out on the market.”
Colum brewers preordered via the crowdfunding campaign are currently expected to ship to customers in Summer 2023. The estimated retail price for the Colum will be roughly $75, which includes a pack of 25 filters.
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Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.