The Clever Dripper is a piece of coffee brewing equipment that makes coffee via the immersion method. What that means is that the grounds of coffee are immersed in water for a given amount of time, then transferred to cup. The method of getting the water to the cup is what makes this “clever”. There is a plunger on the bottom that is pushed up (as opposed to down which is what you normally do with plungers) that allows the coffee to drain out into your cup. This method of brewing coffee is inexpensive and can produce a cup of coffee tailored to your tastes in a relatively short period of time. If you want a superbly good cup of coffee and don’t want to spend a fortune, this is the way to go. So you need a Clever Dripper. I bought mine from Buona Caffe. Sweet Maria’s is the main source for them I believe.
In addition you will need filters. There really is no replacement for Melitta filters, not that I have seen yet. You will need a Melitta #4. You can find these at your local grocery store in the “coffee” aisle. Yes there is a reason I used coffee in quotes. I have yet to meet a main line grocery store that sells whole bean freshly roasted coffee. They just don’t exist.
I won’t go into coffee here. Coffee beans are a subject all to themselves and have been covered ad nauseam elsewhere in this blog. But, grind up your favorite freshly roasted coffee beans. Oh snap, did I not go over grinders? Well there are two main types of grinders, burr and blade. Burr grinders are definitely preferred and tend to turn out more uniformly ground coffee. Uniform grind equals better extraction from the coffee which makes for a better cup of coffee. I don’t have a burr grinder yet but from what I hear Baratza produces a fine one. For their prices they should. Pat and John Curry owners and operators of Buona Caffe use some Cuisinarts that they swear by as perfectly decent. Since I have had their coffee and have seen their grind, I believe them. For myself I use the bladed Mr. Coffee that you can buy for between $20 and $25 just about anywhere you go. Now I never use very much coffee in it I keep the batches small. My grinder has a selection for Fine, Medium and Coarse and a timer functionality built in for how many cups of coffee you want to brew. I set it for fine and select 12 cups. Note, I weigh my coffee prior to putting in the grinder so their measurement for cups is really inconsequential. But if I use the 12 cup timer and set it to fine then I seem to get a good even grind out of it.
Once you have that you need a scale. This is important. Without the proper weight measurements nothing is going to go well. The scale you buy needs to be able to measure in grams and preferably have a tare function; unless of course you are a math nerd and like doing quick math in your head, then of course have at it. You can measure by weight or volume. Weight is far more accurate and the preferred method by far. Here is a scale that should more than suffice. With it you can measure in grams and use the tare function. This certainly makes it easier for me. You can get it at Target (which is where the link takes you) and you should not have a problem with that. Also as a side note, you will be able to get more accurate in your cooking or baking recipes. Besides, Alton Brown measures by weight so it should be good enough for the rest of us.
With that said weight needs to follow according to your taste and that will take some refinement. I started out with the recommended weights of 24 grams coffee to 384 grams water. For my own tastes this produced a watering unsatisfactory cup of coffee. So I went to the other side of the spectrum and did 240 grams water and 40 or 45 grams coffee. Okay, I don’t like coffee syrup. But I was narrowing it down. Eventually I wound up with 35g coffee to 340 to 350 grams water. This produces a cup of coffee I enjoy. Your measurements will vary based on what you like. I think the important part is for you to experiment and find that. Bear in mind folks, this will vary based on the type of coffee you are brewing. Different types of coffee have different flavor profiles that you can accentuate by altering the water and coffee ratio.
Now you have a Clever Dripper, coffee filters, water (filtered please, not purified), and coffee. Now you are armed and dangerous! Ok your coffee is not ground yet, good. Don’t grind just yet. Get your measuring vessel of choice out for your water, pop it on your scale (which is set for grams) and use the Tare function to zero it out, now measure out water and start it heating. How do you heat your water? I nuke it, otherwise your choice. Water should ideally be between 190 and 205 degrees fahrenheit. I find that if I heat up my chosen amount of water for four minutes it comes to a near boil which is about the right temperature range, not exact but about as close as I can get with my equipment. So now while my water is heating, I bust out the filter get it in the Clever and I get my coffee weighed out. I measure my coffee beans and grind. Once ground get it into the filtered Clever. There are a number of options at this point. You could prewet the top of the coffee to sort of form a tiny crust. The point of this is simple, you want to slow down the penetration of the coffee through the body of the coffee to allow the water time to fully saturate and immerse (see, an immersion brewing method!) itself in the coffee.
So my water is done, now I add it to the coffee, not all at once not in a rush. This is where you have to have some patience, but be aware grasshopper, your patience will be rewarded! Take your time, it should take you 45 seconds to a minute to get the water in. Once it is in, put the lid on top of the Clever (provided it came with a lid, earlier models did not, if you have one of these use a sandwich plate) and walk away, that’s right, leave. Set your egg timer (or if you have an iphone your pour over app, hope they have one for android) for two minutes, leave it alone till then. Once your timer goes off set timer for another two minutes. Ok now use a small whisk, NOT A FORK, and stir at the upper and mid levels for a few seconds then lid it, and walk away. Once your timer goes off again, place the clever on top of your preferred coffee drinking vessel and wait. This takes a minute or two for it to drain completely. If you are making coffee for yourself and your honey then watch closely so you don’t over do it and give them more coffee than you get!
It is that simple folks, that is a lot of words to describe a simple process. Over all it is about ten minutes to make a cup of coffee that makes the big coffee chains jealous and envious. With the varying regions of coffee and their associated flavor profiles, you can make yourself endless combinations. The bottom line is literally below.
Explore, experiment, enjoy.