This kettle was designed by Katsuji Daibō—owner of Daibō Coffee and one of the original coffee masters of the third wave coffee movement who became a well known manufacturer for the japanese-style of pour over coffee known as nel drip coffee.
Daibō’s kettle is made with a hammered spout to restrict the flow of water in order to allow better control of the tiny drops of hot water that would slowly get trickled onto coffee grounds—important to making a tasty cup of drip coffee. The kettle is not made to boil water in it, but to have boiled water poured into it, which brings down the water temperature slightly below boiling point—the perfect temperature to use for coffee.
Katsuji Daibō & Daibō Coffee
It wasn’t until 1975 when now acclaimed barista Katsuji Daibō opened Daibō Coffee in the Omotesando District of Tokyo. Though the coffee shop is no longer standing, it was home to a great influence in coffee culture as we know it. Known as one of the most influential figures in today’s coffee culture, Daibō unintentionally helped kick off the third wave with his slow and steady Nel Drip Coffee. With a hammered nosed spout kettle for the most delicate of drips and his reusable cotton-based filters, he would create a service and a flavor unique to all others. A new drip style of making coffee along with roasting beans in front of customers in a place unique for its boarded up windows, to keep the light out and the smell in.
Approaching by a dark, narrow staircase, customers pushed back the heavy door to the establishment and were greeted by seasonal flower arrangements, the only splash of color in an otherwise dark interior. Inside was a peaceful refuge from the roar of the city. Often the only sound was a jazz record playing quietly in the background, and the entire space was permeated by the deep aroma of coffee.
Daibō Katsuji roasts every last batch of coffee himself in a hand-cranked roaster set over a gas burner. After 30 minutes of roasting, he empties the beans onto a wide, shallow basket and fans them the same way a sushi master fans a batch of steamed rice. Then he does his final inspection, discarding less-than-perfect beans before bringing the coffee back to the bar for grinding and filtering.
Daibō stood quietly behind the counter, nearly statuesque, carefully preparing each cup using his distinctive hand-drip method. He doesn’t pour in a thin stream, but in tiny drops like a leaky faucet, raising and lowering the filter, rolling his wrist to tilt the grains, always moving the slow drip in concentric circles. It takes nearly 5 minutes for the full cup to filter. He serves the coffee in delicate porcelain cups heated with hot water and dried just before serving.
Whether it’s the brooding intensity of a cup from Colombia, or the almost wine-like brightness of the fruit from Kenya. By the time you finish, your body will be buzzing with caffeine and your head swimming in all the tiny details that made it possible. This is not just a deeply delicious cup of coffee, but an expression of an entire philosophy.
Daibō closed its doors for good in December 2013 after 38 years in business following Daibō’s landlord deciding to knock down the building for redevelopment.
How to Nel Drip the Daibō Way
-Firstly, if the flannel (also known as a nel) is new, remove it from the wire frame and boil it for 5 to 10 minutes then carefully remove it. Brush the flannel with a soft bristle brush on both inside and outside. Skip this step if you are using a previously-used nel.
-Pinch the bottom of the nel and twist to wring out excess water. Place the nel between a clean dish towel and slap the towel to remove additional water.
-Grind approximately 40 to 50 grams of coffee to a very course grind. Add coffee to nel in a very loose mound making sure the seams of the nel are on the outside.
-Use a thin, flat utensil (like a pancake spatula) to “groom” the coffee. Slide the utensil to the bottom of the ground coffee, and in a up and down motion, loosen the coffee ground to add air between the nel and the ground beans. Once a full rotation has been made, use the utensil to make a divot on the top of the coffee mound.
-Place cup or carafe on a scale and tare. Hold the nel over the cup without making contact with the receptacle.
TIP: In order to keep the coffee temperature consistent, heat the cup prior to dripping. Some famous nel brewers reheat the coffee in a copper cup over a burner.
-Bring water to a boil, and pour water into the kettle to bring water temperature down to approximately 175F, or 79C.
-Start a timer and pour 45ml of water in a clockwise direction around the divot over a 45-60 second period. Pause for 45 seconds while the coffee “blooms”.
TIP: Pour water in tiny drops (like a leaky faucet) while raising or lowering the filter and rolling the wrist to tilt the grains, always moving the filter up and down to control the brewing process.
-Pour 80ml of water in the same way over a 60-80 second period. The coffee grounds should start to float. Pause for 20 seconds.
-Pour 60ml of water at a faster pace in the same way over a 30 second period.
-After each use, run the nel under hot water to rinse and brush both sides with the same soft bristle brush you used the first time. This brush is now forever your nel drip coffee brush.
-Put the nel in a jar and submerge in cold water. Place uncovered in the fridge for next use.