I have been thinking a lot about pour over drippers over the last few weeks. I used to wonder what innovation was left in pour over drippers but recently my eyes have been opened to the opportunity left in this realm. There isn't a "best" pour over brewer and we haven't explored all of the design opportunities yet. As we understand the science behind coffee brewing more, I look forward to seeing more brewers that are based on the latest findings.
I recently purchased a Tricolate coffee brewer. The Tricolate is a pour over coffee brewer but acts in a different way to any other coffee brewer I have had. The Tricolate is a similar shape to an Aeropress. It has many holes at the bottom upon which you rest a coffee filter. You put your coffee in the Tricolate after adding a paper filter. But this is where the difference stops between the Tricolate and the Aeropress.
The Tricolate is known for letting you achieve higher extraction rates than other brewers. This happens in a few ways:
- There is a dispersion screen at the top of the Tricolate upon which you pour your water. This dispersion screen distributes your water across the bed of coffee.
- The Tricolate can be used with a finer grind without stalling the brew to an extent the coffee tastes overly bitter (an effect you may see in a Kalita Wave or V60 where you have ground too finely).
- The Tricolate lets water drip through at its own pace. There is no pushing mechanism like there is in an Aeropress to force coffee out of the brewer.
- The Tricolate is a chamber so no water can bypass through the bed of coffee. All water must flow through the coffee bed and the paper filter below.
The Tricolate does take longer to brew than other pour over methods. This is expected because you have to wait for your water to drip through the bed of coffee. Water cannot bypass the coffee to get into the carafe below. But, the longer brew time is not an issue. The longer brew time allows for more extraction.
I tried my regular Kalita Wave recipe on the Tricolate and the brew took more than five minutes (whereas this same recipe usually takes under three minutes in my Kalita). The result was a delicious, balanced cup of coffee. I preferred that cup to my Kalita despite the brew time being so long.
If you get a Tricolate, there is one thing you have to remember: the rules you have learned about total brew times on other brewers do not apply. If your Tricolate takes over 10-15 minutes to brew, there might be an issue. But a total brew time between five and 10 minutes is not only acceptable, but desirable. I have heard longer brew times can work too.
The Tricolate is fundamentally different from other pour over devices and the Aeropress. You can't grind too fine in an Aeropress without stalling the brew. Most other pour over brewers do not come with a built in dispersion screen. Most other brewers allow water to bypass the coffee bed, even if bypass is minimal.
I have now brewed three or so cups of coffee on my Tricolate. I do not yet have a recipe I feel comfortable using as my daily driver. I am getting closer to that point but there is a lot of exploration for me to do. I have made two really amazing brews on my Tricolate so far and I have only just got the device. Thus, I am excited about the opportunities to improve, refine my recipe, and learn more about how this brewer acts.
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