If you have an instagram account where you post or look at coffee then it is likely you would have come across the Origami Dripper. It is a difficult object to ignore because aesthetically it is beautiful and eye catching. Made from Japanese Mino porcelain, the Origami is an instagram favourite for many due to the strikingly beautiful colours they come in. So I wanted to review this pour-over and discuss whether it is worth brewing with.
Although the Origami Dripper is aesthetically pleasing, is it actually a good brewer compared to the V60 or Kalita Wave? That is where some have been quietly critical of the Origami as some think it is, dare I say, overrated. I don’t think it is overrated, but it is in the spotlight and questions have been raised over its performance.
I have been using the Origami Dripper since October of last year and pretty regularly too. It has become my main brewer and I stopped using the V60 over it. Moreover, plenty of people, well regarded in the coffee community also use it quite frequently. Furthermore, I don’t think it’s just for the social media look either because people will brew what produces the best coffee for them. If the Origami didn’t produce good coffee then why would anyone brew with it?
I have already done a post on 5 things you should know about the Origami, just as an introduction which you can check out here. But on this post, I wanted to give my honest assessment of the Origami Dripper and go through things that stood out for me. Then I want to let you know if it’s something worth buying.
How is the Design?
As I mentioned one of the greatest appeals of the Origami is its visual appearance. But before we go into the good and bad of the design of the Origami, you should know some things before purchasing. Firstly, you need to buy the wooden holder or plastic resin separately. The wooden holder costs around £10 whilst the plastic resin can costs between £7 – £10. The wooden holder looks so much better so I recommend going for that but both do the job.
There are also two sizes in medium (M) and small (S). The medium makes up to 4 cups whilst the small is 1 – 2 cups. There is not much difference in price and that is why I got the M size. I cannot really comment on which is better but I do brew smaller brews on the M size just fine.
The Origami Dripper has a unique design to say the least. Inspired by Japanese origami paper, the Origami stands out because of its 20 folded inner ribs. This creates air channels that allows you to experience clog-free brews. Along with the aesthetics, the other selling point come from the folded ribs because you can use either the conical or flat-bed filter papers. It is slightly crazy because the conical papers are the recommended choice and there are even Origami produced conical filter papers. But the flat-bed Kalita Wave papers fit perfectly into the folded ribs. Whether that is a good thing or bad is another debate. But it looks great especially when you are brewing into it. That duality is easily a key attraction to many people including me.
Another aspect of the design that helps is the wide diameter on the top of the brewer and the bottom. From what I knew before buying and using after, is that the wide dimensions help with the flow rate. To some that is desirable because with V60 papers it can be really slow and some experience clogging issues with the Kalita.
One striking issue is that the wide dimension and the porcelain material of the brewer can impact the heat retention. So during brewing, the heat of the water is not retained or might not stay consistent within the Origami. Consistent temperature helps with even extraction and with the Origami that can be a problem. If you think of the Kalita Wave which is more enclosed, the openness of the Origami might mean you lose heat quicker.
Another issue of the design is that there is no handle on the Origami. Considering how delicate this dripper is, it can be very difficult to handle it (no pun intended). So if you are clumsy then I don’t have much hope for you to keep the Origami safe. Furthermore, there is no handle connected to the bottom of the brewer so it is hard to ensure it is level when placed on a carafe. As already mentioned, you need to buy a wooden holder or plastic resin separately. It makes it slightly better to get the dripper level and when maneuvering around. But if you have OCD then getting this thing looking straight might drive you mad.
It is very unique that a brewer can use both the conical and flat-bed papers. But is that duality a good thing or bad thing?
The fact that you can get different brews from a simple change of papers makes a great selling point. This gives you more options to try more methods. I quite like that I can brew the same coffee on the same brewer but get different results from the paper change. From this, I can decide if I prefer the conical or flat-bed paper depending on the coffee I am using. I would say the conical papers gives you more consistency and produces similar coffee to the V60. The flat-bed can still lead to amazing tasting coffee but requires more exploring into the right method and techniques.
Another advantage the Origami gives you is what I mentioned earlier, which is little more control over your brew. What I mean is that if you have clogging issues with the Kalita or slow flow rate with the V60 then the Origami kind of does a better job in get the water flowing through the coffee bed. Especially with their own conical filters which for me is a lot quicker then the V60 papers. Another huge advantage is that there are many new conical filter papers that produce quicker flow rates like Sibarist or slow things down like the Kono. All these papers work on the Origami and again there is lot of room to try different papers and see what suits you.
A common criticism I have come across is that although the Origami can brew with different filter papers, it doesn’t provide anything drastically different to the end result. So if you already have a V60 or a Kalita or even both, do you then need the Origami? Well compared to the V60, there is not much difference between the two apart from one thing. Origami is generally quicker in terms of the flow rate. That can be a good thing or bad thing as faster flow rate can lead to under-extraction and weak brews. So you will need to adjust with the Origami which might not be for you if you have V60 method that already works.
Comparing it to the Kalita Wave then it’s a whole different ball game. There is a noticeable difference between the two in terms of what coffee they produce. The Kalita Wave will give you consistent brews so if you want that then it will be hard to switch to the Origami. Obviously this is because the Kalita Waves design allows it to steep the coffee for a bit and allows even extraction. Now the Origami doesn’t really steep the same so you need more precision and therefore not as forgiving.
How does the brew taste?
As you can use two different filters, the origami can produce different types of tasting coffee. So what kind of coffee flavours can you expect?
With a consistent and quick flow rate, the Origami can produce really sweet and juicy cups. When compared to the V60, there is more acidity and cleaner cups. You can go that little finer to get that clarity and flavour notes. I enjoy the smaller brews as I get very flavourful cups and that is what I liked about the V60 when I used their original paper filters.
With the Origami there is room to develop unique tasting coffee. By thinking out of box and using different methods you can produce coffee with a bit more body and very aromatic brews. What I tend to find is that the flat-bed papers give you more denser flavours coming through and it may feel subtle but works well with slightly heavier cups.
Unlike the Kalita Wave, the Origami is not so forgiving. At times you can end up with weak tasting coffee. This commonly happens to first time users who really don’t expect how quick the flow rate can be which leads to under-extraction. Now I never had that issue at the start as I knew what I was expecting. But I have randomly had some brews just filter through in sonic speed and leave me with weak tasting coffee. This does happen with certain types of coffee but I just experienced it with the Origami more than other brewers.
Another thing that I came across is, if you brew a bit too long you get this dry aftertaste. Surprisingly you get this dry taste when you over-extract and when you look to brew a larger batch of coffee over 300ml. Now because of this I hardly use the Origami to brew a large amount of coffee. I tend to do more smaller brews around 200-250ml and don’t risk wasting coffee beans. I probably need to look into it more before I declare the Origami can’t do bigger brews. But for the time being it is a bit of a problem.
Pro and Cons
- Uses both conical and flat-bed filter papers
- Photogenic and instagram-goals
- Quicker flow rate
- Less clogging issues
- Sweeter and juicier cups
- Easy to under-extract
- Requires more precision and pouring skill
- Dry after-taste when brewing larger quantity on flat-bed papers
What I really think of the Origami Dripper?
So in this review I have tried to provide all the good stuff and bad stuff from the Origami Dripper. Although I do think there are teething issues with the Origami and it is not going to be for everyone. However, I love this brewer. I love the colour, the look and I always want to brew with it. Although I have experienced some brews not quite working out. I have also had some of the best tasting coffee brewed using the Origami. If I had to keep one coffee brewer out of everything I have then it would be the Origami.
The issues I have raised are something you can avoid by tweaking your methods. For example, for under-extraction you can grind finer and prolong your pouring to keep the brew going. That also helps with retaining the heat within the dripper. The other take-way I would give is to think out the box a little. Too many times I see people use traditional pour-over methods and knowledge to conclude how the Origami will perform without even trying it. What I found is not many are trying to be innovative with their technique and looking at different solutions. This is something I will hope to go into future posts when I share my Origami method and technique.
Who would I recommend it to?
For the seasoned pour-over user who loves collecting brewers then you want the Origami Dripper. Actually the chances are that you already have it. Yes it looks amazing on Instagram but people want to enjoy the process too and the Origami gives you that therapeutic enjoyment. Using different papers also is fun and you can really switch it up to experience more out the same coffee. I actually don’t get the same enjoyment when I compare the Kalita to the V60.
However, I would not recommend the Origami to a beginner. It does require some skill and precision to use and more so because it is harder to get consistent tasting coffee. Also, there are plenty of people who are critical of the Origami because they love the Kalita or V60 too much. Those people are not going to get the Origami. I would happily state that I find the Origami fits right in the middle in between the Kalita and V60. But the caveat is that the Origami lacks the history of both the other brewers.
Where can you buy the Origami Dripper?
Let me just say the Origami Dripper is easier to buy in the UK in 2021 compared to 2020. When I bought it end of last year, I got it from Kurasu, which meant being shipped from Japan. It would have been cheaper if not for DHL applying some of export shipping tax.
But there are some UK coffee roasters who sell the Origami too like Hasbean (link here). Hasbean are one of the most well known roasters that I trust and they tend to have good coffee equipments on their site. Note they do have wooden and plastic place holders along with the Origami conical papers sold separately. They also have the two sizes medium (M) and small (S) but not all the colours are available. Ensure you double check before you buy.