The Clever Coffee Dripper Review – Is This Pour Over Coffee Brewer Right For You?
Opening the door to manual coffee can be a tad scary. All the “no, not like that” and the “this is how you do it” you’ll read can be a quick turn-off and leave you running back to the safety of your auto drip.
With manual coffee, there is a hard way to get going, and there is an easy way.
The Clever Dripper is that easy way.
In this Clever Coffee Dripper review, I’m going to break it all down to help you decide if the Clever Coffee maker is the manual coffee introduction you’ve been waiting for.
The Clever Coffee Dripper 'In A Nutshell'
The Clever Dripper is the coffee maker that was created to make manual coffee easy and entertaining. Spoiler alert: it worked. For that reason, it's one of our favourite pour over brewers; its easy to use but still makes a killer cup of pour over coffee. It's shaped just like a standard pour over brewer, but a valve on the bottom allows you to trap water in the brew cone. Because of this, the Clever is considered an immersion style brewer.
It is an uncomplicated tool to use and allows even the newbie to make tasty coffee with minimal effort. It works well with dark roasts and it creates a full-bodied cup that feels strong and highlights rich, chocolatey flavors.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Immersion Style Coffee Maker
Though you may not recognize the name, you’ve undoubtedly tried an immersion style coffee before.
There are a number of such coffee makers, the most popular of which is the French press.
Immersion style coffee is all about full contact. Unlike drip coffee, with immersion coffee the water and the grounds are in in complete contact throughout the entire brew.
Filtering comes at the very end once your slurry has had plenty of time to steep.
It isn’t always as efficient at extracting all the solubles from your beans as drip brewing, but it produces a much fuller-feeling, stronger-tasting cup of coffee.
If you love savoring the delicate coffee oils locked in your beans (which are often the fruitier and more acidic flavors), immersion brewing isn’t the best way to go.
Immersion is more like bathing your beans, whereas drip coffee is like washing, which does a better job of “pulling” the oils out of your beans.
However, if you prefer richer, more chocolatey flavors, then this style is right up your alley. Letting your grounds steep allows them to infuse with the water, creating a more full bodied cup of coffee.
A few things you should keep in mind before buying an immersion brewer are:
- Does it require much skill to use?
- Is it made from cheap or durable materials?
- How well does it filter out the grounds (aka “fines”)?
The Clever Pour Over Coffee Dripper Review
Using the Clever is one of the easiest, most hassle-free ways to make manual coffee. It uses a special locking feature which allows you to effortlessly control steeping and filtering the coffee.
This coffee maker is made entirely out of clear plastic; not the most durable material, but at least it won’t break if you drop it. It comes with a plate to rest it on and a lid to help retain heat while steeping.
Because it is so easy to use, the Clever is a great place to start for someone looking to try out manual brewing. It is a forgiving brewer that allows you to be as meticulous (or lazy) as you want.
If you are looking for a manual coffee maker that is going to give you a lot of flexibility, then you’d be better off searching somewhere else. Though this brewer can satisfy the pour over lover (more on that later) it’s not as open to experimentation as something like the Hario V60.
- Easy to use
- Creates coffee similar to French press, but without the mess.
- It doesn’t only do immersion brewing.
- Not the best for extracting the oils from your coffee beans.
- The all-plastic body can wear down and crack over time.
A New Way to Time Your Brews
There is a reason this coffee maker is called “clever.”
It looks similar to the standard Melitta pour over cone, but at the bottom of the Clever is a locking mechanism that keeps your slurry inside the brew cone.
At the bottom of the cone is a valve that is can only be released by applying pressure to the base of the Clever.
That is the technical way of saying it, but in simple terms, simply place this coffee maker on your cup or on a carafe, and fresh coffee will immediately begin pouring through.
This unique feature is what makes the Clever an immersion style brewer.
You can let your grounds steep as long as you want and, when you’re ready, filtering out the grounds is as simple as setting it on your cup.
As User Friendly as They Come
It wasn’t an exaggeration when I said that brewing with the Clever is as easy as it gets.
You can find different techniques to try, but all you need to do to brew great coffee with the Clever is pour in the grounds, pour in the water, let it steep, and then drain.
Just like with any coffee maker, you can get super meticulous by weighing and measuring each step, but it isn’t as necessary with this brewer as it is with others.
Eye-balling and “that’s about right” works just as well.
This de-emphasis on perfectionism is what allows the Clever to be such an approachable coffee maker.
It takes just as little effort to set up as it does to brew with, so you can go about cooking your breakfast tacos or irking out one more chapter in your book without having to hover about with kettle in hand.
Two Brewers in One
You may have already wondered “what would happen if I just left this coffee maker on top of my cup as it brewed?”
And you may have already guessed the answer so, really, I’m just here for confirmation.
Yes, you can make drip coffee with the Clever brewer.
By leaving the bottom valve open you can turn the Clever into a pour over brewer, and it will work just like any other.
Granted, this is going to complicate your process a bit, but I completely understand the urge for some tasty pour over now and then.
A quick note on switching this coffee maker over to manual drip: pay close attention to your grind and your pouring technique.
You will need to pour slowly and do some fine tuning with your grind size, though not much since the immersion-Clever uses a medium-fine grind.
Who Should NOT Buy the Clever Dripper
It’s hard not to like the Clever Dripper’s neat automatic shutoff feature that holds water against your grounds till you release, and the way you can time your infusion for just the extraction you want.
But here are a few reasons the Clever Dripper might not be for you:
- You don’t like the flavor produced by full-immersion coffee makers. Immersion brewers (think French press) can sometimes mask the more aromatic, fruity components from your coffee beans, and tend to produce a fuller, stronger-tasting cup of coffee.
- You love espresso. The Clever Dripper can certainly make strong coffee, somewhere between pour over and French press, but it can’t get the extraction rate and complexity of espresso.
- You want to brew many cups at a time. The Clever Dripper is available in two sizes, the larger of which holds 18 ounces. If you have thirsty roommates, or you like to drink multiple cups without having to stop and brew each time, consider a coffee maker with more volume like the Chemex.
Alternatives to the Clever Pour Over Dripper
Being one of the most straightforward styles means immersion coffee is open to variation. There are a few different ways to go about this style, each of them just as unique as the other.
Three other immersion brewers worth taking a look at:
The French Press - French press coffee is usually the first thing people think of when they hear “immersion coffee,” and that’s because it has been around a lot longer than any other. Making coffee with a French press is just as easy as with the Clever, but French press will produce a much fuller-bodied coffee.
The Aerobie AeroPress - The AeroPress is a mix between immersion and pump-driven coffee. Like with espresso, water is forced through a puck of grounds, but with the AeroPress you let it steep for a while first. I would call the Aeropress the 'traveller' version of the Clever Dripper.
The Hario Technica - Though it looks completely different and (technically) belongs in a different category, at its core, the Hario Technica is an immersion brewer. To be more specific, this coffee maker is what’s referred to as a vacuum pot or siphon.
If you’re ready to take your first steps into the delicious world of manual coffee, then the Clever Dripper is one of the best coffee makers you can choose.
Its novel design allows for easy brewing without placing too much emphasis on technique.
You can use the Clever Coffee maker either as an immersion brewer for a no-hassle cup, or as a pour over to practice and experiment.
If this Clever Coffee Dripper review has you convinced, click here to check it out.