There are many brands that buy some private label product from China and slab their own name and logo on it.
Is this what Blue Bottle has done here, or is this dripper actually something unique that deserves a spot in your dripper collection?
In this review, I’ll take a close look at the dripper and talk about all the pros & cons.
(By the way, check out the video on Youtube below for more info)
Blue Bottle Dripper: Backstory
Recently, I have been complaining a lot about the Kalita drippers and their various problems. A few of my readers suggested that I should try out the Blue Bottle Dripper instead, since it apparently is a more reliable product.
So I went ahead and got one.
I should say that it’s not that easy to get one of these if you don’t live in one of the countries where Blue Bottle operates. As far as I know you can buy the dripper online in the US and Canada, and also in Blue Bottle’s stores in Japan.
But if you don’t live in one of those places you might have to talk to a friend abroad who can ship it to you, or get it from eBay or another platform like that.
So the first thing you might be wondering when you see the Blue Bottle dripper is: “Is this legit?” And I think that’s a valid point to make.
We live in a world where many brands put out products they have nothing to do with.
They just put on their logo, and then it’s basically done. This is called “private label”.
However, from the get-go, Blue Bottle has been pretty clear that this is a passion project for the company. They have dedicated a lot of resources and time into testing different designs. Some pretty esteemed engineers and coffee people have been working on the development.
Made in Japan
Blue Bottle used to be a very artistic, indie kind of brand but then they were bought up by Nestle a few years back, and for that reason a lot of people in the coffee world are slightly sceptical about Blue Bottle nowadays.
There’s this sense that they have “sold out” and betrayed their roots.
But I will have to say when you look at the dripper and the packaging, it doesn’t seem like some cheap kind of merchandise that’s just about making a quick buck. I don’t feel like they have cut any corners here.
The dripper is produced in Japan in a village named Arita, which is famous for ceramics, and this is actually the same place that Kalita and Hario and some other coffee brands make their drippers.
It has a very appealing glaze and the overall design and shape, is I guess pretty stylish.
I’m not sure about the Blue logo on the front. I think when it comes to logos and brand identity Blue Bottle are extremely good at what they do, but it does feel a little bit weird to have that kind of logo so prominent on the dripper.
Hario and Kalita for instance, are a lot more subtle with their branding, and I think that’s also how I personally prefer it.
If you have a coffee shop, it’s a bit weird to have a product that so explicitly advertises for a brand that’s in a sense a competitor. So I guess with that decision, it feels a bit more like a product that’s aimed at home users.
In my testing of the Blue Bottle dripper I have found that it typically creates a cup profile with a big body and a strong mouthfeel.
I’m happy to report that it’s very consistent. I haven’t noticed much in terms of stalling or clogging at all, and it’s got a rather speedy flow rate.
I have been brewing small cups down to 15 grams (using the small Kalita filter paper size 155) and also made bigger cups with 30 grams of coffee and I have to say that both have been working quite well.
I have also tried different techniques such as the 4-6 method as well as more common techniques, and all styles have been working fine.
I have seen some people online say that it’s very hard to make a bad cup of coffee with this dripper, and I think that’s spot on. It’s very forgiving.
It feels like the way they have constructed the bottom and the ribs around the drain holes, is just very well done. No matter what it’s just impossible to block the drain hole, so it’s capable of keeping the same flow rate for most parts of the brew.
So you have a lot of flexibility with grind size, pouring technique and so on.
I think that the acidity and that kind of sparkling clarity that you can get with the ceramic Kalita wave isn’t quite present here.
I have been experimenting with doing bigger blooms in order to draw out a bit more acidity. If you bloom with 2 x the coffee weight, like Blue Bottle suggests in their instruction, I think the coffee becomes a little bit dull.
Another downside is that it’s difficult to buy the dripper, and even more difficult to get the proprietary “Blue Bottle” paper filters. I don’t know if their filters are any better than Kalita’s but it would be nice to at least try them.
So let’s say you’re living in a place where it’s difficult to buy the dripper, which basically is anywhere, besides North America and Japan, then I’m not really sure it’s worth getting it.
It seems like it does have a more predictable flow rate, but in daily life I’m not sure if it justifies spending a lot of extra money and effort just to get hold of one.
I think the Blue Bottle dripper is a pretty cool product. I have been using it for a while now, and I can say that I’m quite happy to have it in my dripper collection.
It’s different compared to the Kalita and probably even better in some ways. That being said, it’s also a bit more trouble to get your hands on it, and I’m not sure if it’s worth the hassle for most people.
But if you’re looking for a ceramic flat bottom dripper, and you like the idea of one that’s really consistent almost no matter what you throw at it, then this one is probably the best one out there.