What if we told you that there’s a new tool on the block that people are saying might out shine your French Press, Pour over, AND drip brewer? Well, buckle up because this review might. just blow your mind. Today, we’re looking at the Clever Coffee Dripper and investigating what actually makes. it so clever.
What is it?
For starters, the Clever Dripper is an immersion brewer that also works as a manual drip brewer. It’s made with BPA-free plastic and features a unique valve/stopper at the bottom which is the hallmark of the “clever” design. Also, it uses paper filters like a pour over (size 4 or 6), and it comes with a lid and plastic coaster.
The cone has small “feet” on the cone which prevent the valve from being opened unless the device is set on top of a mug. That means you can split a brew between multiple cups and allow. the grounds to steep linger before you deposit the Breville into your cup. But more on all that later.
How to Use It
The optional first step is to wet your filter. Because you’re using a paper filter, many people like to use some of the hot water to rinse the filter before. brewing. However, this is up to personal preference. Additionally, you can leave the hot water in your mug as you prepare to actually brew the coffee if you want to make sure your up is warm. (Just make sure to dump it before you brew into it.)
As a side note, now is a good time to determine if the Clever is a suitable size for your mug of choice. Put the grounds in the paper filter inside of the Clever. Make sure it’s sitting on a countertop or other flat surface so the stopper is engaged.
Let it Bloom
For this device you should be using a medium coarse grind. That’s not quite as coarse as a French press coffee, but not as fine as a pour over.
Next up, you are going to bloom the coffee. You”l take the water off the heat when it’s boiling at about 205 degrees. You will then use about a tenth of the total water you plant to use to wet the grounds. The device should NOT yet be placed on your mug.
After about 30 seconds, slowly begin to pour the rest of your water into the Clever, making sure you don’t overflow. Place the lid on top and wait about a minute and a half (you can vary this time to your own liking.) Some people stir the coffee and water before recovering, waiting awhile longer, and then proceeding.
Engage the Valve
Once you are done with the immersion, you’ll use the handle to pick up the clever and place it on your mug. Make sure you have a big enough container for the amount you are brewing. It should take about a minute for the coffee to drain out into the cup.
If the coffee is getting stuck and you’re having to stir to get it. to. drain, your grind was too small. If it is pouring out super quickly, it may be the opposite issue. Either way, wait until it has drained out and taste it to determine if you are happy with your grind, immersion, and temperature choices.
Easily the most exciting feature of this unique brewing tool is the brew control. While at first glance it looks like a big pour over, there is actually much more to the Clever Coffee Dripper’s brewing than you might expect.
As we mentioned before, there is a nifty little stopper valve at the bottom of this tool. While this may initially just seem like a convenient addition, it actually presents a unique brewing opportunity. This stopper allows you to brew what would otherwise be a pretty typical drip brew in an immersion style (similar to a French press).
Thus, you get greater brew control in the form of immersion time, in addition to the standard brew control that you get with other manual brewers (temperature, grind size, etc). This allow you to achieve a fuller-bodied brew while still getting the clean flavor that comes from using a paper filter.
If you’re curious about how the brews from this thing taste–so were we. As it turns out it’s pretty great!
Thanks to the immersion style, you get to enjoy the richer notes of the brews like chocolate or earthy flavors (the exact profile obviously depends on the beans you’re using). Additionally, we noticed the brews were stronger with. fuller-bodies.
Now here’s where things get exciting. All of that stuff comes pretty standard to immersion brewer, like a French press. However, many of these other techniques can leave your. brew being a tad heavy or even gritty, which is what turns people off of the method sometimes.
However, because the Clever uses a paper filter, you can enjoy the cleaner, lighter feel while still enjoying the richness of the flavors. It’s a win-win.
Another thing we love about this tool is the price. Coming in at about $20 for the device alone, this thing beats out the Aeropress and several of our top French Press picks. So it’s pretty competitive when it comes to manual brewers, which are already some of the least costly coffee tools to get.
So if this thing sparks your interest, it won’t break your bank to try it out and add it to your collection. Plus, the only recurring costs for this one are the filters. And it takes size 4 or6 Melitta filters, which are relatively inexpensive and readily available.
Looks + Construction
Now, not every product is perfect, and this is the one category where we feel the Clever falls a bit flat. Because of its plastic construction, the Clever isn’t exactly the most striking tool to begin with. And, over time, the plastic may wear down or chip.
The biggest drawback to the plastic though, is that it stains after a while. This is especially noticeable with the clear “Cloud” model, though it’s less obvious with the brown, “Java” model. However, this does not affect the resulting taste of your brew, so if you’re not one to be concerned with aesthetics anyway, this minor con probably won’t bother you.
So if you want to ditch the plastic and are okay with a smaller capacity, the Bonavita Immersion Dripper could be the one for you.
Ease of Use
Back to the good stuff. This tool is probably one of the easiest to use brewing tools we’ve ever laid our hands on. It’ll work with your run of the mill electric kettle, and there isn’t really any technique involved in the pouring.
While you can go out of your way to weigh your water and grounds and get fancy with the pouring method, it’s not a big deal with this tool. You can very well get away with eyeballing it and pouring. the water straight from an electric kettle. No Gooseneck necessary!
The simplicity of it is really what makes this item so approachable (especially at this price). So even a complete beginner when it comes to brewing coffee could handle using this tool, and the drink would still be good.
The Clever can fit atop cups and thermoses with openings between 1.5″ and 3.75″ in diameter. This will cover just about any standard mug you could be using, unless you are drinking out if a bowl or a thimble. However, our main quibble with the fit is that the edge may bump the handles of some cups.
So if you are using a wide-mouth mug that the handle is right up at the top edge, you may need to reconsider your cup choices to get the most out of this tool.
As we mentioned before, you do get a good bit of room for experimentation when it comes to bre w control. However, there is also another way to brew with the Clever.
As it turns out, you can actually remove the stopper. This allows you to use the Clever like any other manual drip brewer. And thanks to the larger capacity, this filter cine option can make large batch brewing much easier than others, similar tools.
Compared to Other Products
If you are looking at the Clever, chances are you’re looking at some other manual brewing tools as well. So, we’ve gone ahead and done some quick comparisons. That way, you can know for sure if this is the right one for you.
In this matchup, the Clever is going to win out on capacity and ease of use. While we personally prefer the taste of Aeropress coffee done well, it’s slightly more difficult to hit the nail right one the head with that one.
However, both of these tools are good for travel, easily beating out the other two competitors in that front. The Aeropress may have a slight advantage in this arena as it has a travel case and there are no small bits that might break during transport. On the other hand, the feet at the bottom of the clever may break off or the body may crack if handled too roughly in transit.
If you are wanting a device you can leave on your counter and use to brew for guests, go for a French press. However, if you are just brewing for one or two and don’t care too much about the #aesthetic, the Clever would be the better choice.
As a note on tasting, if you don’t like the potential grittiness or heaviness of a French Press brew, the Clever is a great way to get some of the advantages of that immersion style without those qualities.
Lastly, the Clever once again wins on ease of use when put against the Pour Over. And this one is by a long shot. The Clever doesn’t require expensive accessories (like the Gooseneck kettle) and its filters are easier to find than the ones you’d use for a Hario. Plus, there just isn’t as much technique involved.
However, if you are the type of person who prefers to perfect your craftsmanship and would prefer something that requires a bit of finesse, the Pour over is the better choice. Additionally, there are more options as far as looks are concerned if you opt for the Pour Over, similar to the French Press.
The Clever Coffee Dripper is probably one of the most accessible manual coffee brewers you’re going to come across. So if. you’ve been intimidated by the methods and accessories necessary for other tools, this is the way to go.
Additionally, for a tool this easy to use, it actually brews some pretty incredible coffee. Consequently, you won’t be settling on taste even though you’re opting for convenience.
So if you are looking for a simple tool you can use to brew for you or two, definitely give this tool a shot at your coffee-loving heart.