Clever Coffee Dripper Review

The Clever Coffee Dripper has gotten a lot of buzz. The claim is that it offers the best of Drip and French Press, without the drawbacks of either.

Clever Coffee Dripper - Add Filter
Clever Coffee Dripper – Insert Coffee Filter

At its core it is very similar to a manual Melitta Cone Filter Coffeemaker, with a few nice additions:

  • Valve that opens when placed on a cup or thermos and closes when you take it off.
  • The ability to control the steeping time (unlike a Melitta-style, where liquid begins immediately to flow).
  • A lid to keep in some heat during steeping.
  • A little coaster to set the dripper onto.

Clever Coffee - Add Coffee
Clever Coffee Dripper – Add Coffee

Sweet Marias provides tons of information on how to get the most out of the Clever Coffee Dripper.

Body

I love the flavor that I can produce with the Clever Coffee Dripper. I am not a huge French Press fan (mainly because I get indigestion and the jitters), but I do like coffee that has decent body and a higher particulate to water ratio than what most drip machines with paper filters produce. Some people use a SwissGold Filter or Gold Filter to attain this, but I find it is too close to French Press for me, and I think part of the problem is too many oils. The Clever Coffee Dripper is perfect in this regard, and doesn’t let too many oils in the cup, probably due to absorption by the paper filter. You could probably make it closer to French Press by using a SwissGold or Frieling Cone Filter, but I did not try that.

Clever Coffee - Add Hot Water
Pour hot water over grounds

I found that all my favorite cups were too wide, and my favorite thermoses were too narrow to sit correctly or activate the valve. I would like to see a design where the width of the vessel doesn’t really matter, and the valve is controlled by a button or something. I know this might complicate the design/manufacture or increase cost, but I would be willing to pay another $10 for this.

Clever Coffee - Cover Coffee Grinds
Cover grounds with hot water

I used the Clever Coffee Dripper using many of the variations that Tom from Sweet Maria’s mentions on his site just to see what I liked. It turned out I am somewhat lazy, and I was fine with my method below, since it seems a lot easier for me, so here it is:

  1. Grind a little on the finer side, probably Medium-Fine grind as shown on the Coffee Grind Chart.
  2. I don’t weigh my coffee or water.
  3. On a #4 filter, I just eyeball and fill the coffee until it is filled about 1/3 of the way from the bottom.
  4. I pour the water and stir immediately, and leave about an inch of headroom for bloom and put the cover on.
  5. I rarely stir in between, and usually at around 3 minutes I let it all go into the cup.

Clever Coffee - Optional Stir
An optional stir during the Clever brew.

Clever Coffee - Add Lid
Add lid to Clever during brew.

Clever Coffee Finished
Clever Coffee – Finished Brewing!

Conclusion

Although it doesn’t fit all my vessels, at $20, it is a great deal. I would recommend you go and buy one right now. You will probably find that you reach for this over your French Press, Melitta, or Drip Machine; I know I do.

Pros

  • Price is reasonable at about $20.
  • Controlling steeping time is very nice.
  • Takes either a #4 or #6 cone filter.
  • Great videos and written documentation on how to use the Clever Coffee Dripper.

Clever Coffee brewing
Clever Coffee Brewing

Cons

  • Design does not fit most of my coffee cups (the cups are too wide).
  • Design does not fit most of my thermoses (the thermos is too narrow).
  • No insulation, which results in coffee being a little cooler than I would like, especially with longer steeping times.
  • Dripper and Coaster slide around too much because of the slick plastic. Some anti-slip material would be a nice addition.

Clever Coffee - Size of Mugs
Mugs that don’t work for the Clever.

Resources

Step By Step Bonavita Immersion Coffee Dripper Tutorial – A similar brewing method that uses a ceramic brewer instead of plastic.

Clever Coffee Dripper – Resource page by Sweet Maria’s Coffee.

Favorite Coffee Gear – Amazon USA list includes Clever Coffee Dripper.

 

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Chris Arnold

Coffee, Photography, and Apple...what else is there?