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nel drip


    Texture and traditional technique yield a nuanced cup

    Coffee from a nel is thick, focused and incredibly sweet – texturally reminiscent of mulled wine. It’s quite moody and fragile, too: Water that’s too hot, a hurried pour or even an offhand remark might wither its complexity. To make it correctly requires a surgeon’s hand, a novelist’s resolve and musician’s capacity for improvisation.


    3½ minutes


    Coffee (aged 1-3 weeks)
    Nel Drip set

    Coffee bean icon

    Coffee Amount

    45-50 grams

    Hand grinder icon



    Water temp icon

    Water Amt and temp

    185 grams
    175 °

    Clock icon

    Brew Time

    3½ minutes

    Step One

    Soak your filter

    If your filter is new, remove it from its frame and place it in boiling water for five minutes. Following this, attach it to its hoop.

    nel drip filter in a pot of water

    Step Two

    Grind coffee

    While your nel is soaking, grind your coffee. Nel calls for a higher dose of coffee than an ordinary drip; it’s not uncommon to use 45-50 grams. The coffee should be ground very coarsely – about as coarse as is required for French press.

    ground coffee

    Step Three

    Dry the filter

    Dry the nel by first wringing it out with your hands, then placing it in a dry, clean towel.

    drying the nel filter

    Step Four

    Preheat the nel pot

    Heat your nel pot and filter for one minute, then empty the water.

    pouring hot water into the filter

    Step Five

    Add coffee

    Add your coffee to the filter in a loose mound. Do not compress it.

    adding coffee to the filter

    Step Six

    Groom the coffee

    Take a thin bamboo paddle and work your way around the coffee in a gentle sawing motion. Your paddle should extend all the way to the bottom of the filter.

    Create a button-sized indentation at the top of the coffee mound. It should have the circumference of a nickel and the depth of a thumbtack. Give or take.

    Step Seven

    First Pour

    Let your water cool in its kettle to about 175 degrees F.

    Begin pouring very gently around the circumference of your indentation. This first pour is almost excruciatingly slow – 45 grams over 45 seconds. Don’t worry about saturating all your grounds; time and the principle of capillarity will take care of that. Once you’ve finished pouring, pause for 45 seconds.

    pouring the hot water over the coffee

    Step Eight

    Second Pour

    Your second pour should be a bit faster – 80 grams over 60 seconds, to be precise. Keep your pour centered. The coffee should at this point be churning and seething a little bit, kind of like the birth of the universe, or something out of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Pause again for 20 seconds.

    Nel pot on a scale

    Step Nine

    Final Pour

    This time, it's 60 grams of water over the course of 30 seconds. When all is said and done, you ought to have poured 185 grams of water over the course of 3 minutes and 20 seconds.

    While the coffee is dripping, pre-heat your cups. It’s common for nel coffee to be a bit cooler than traditionally brewed coffee. Heating up the cups is a good way to bring it back to temperature without shocking it.

    Nel drip being prepared