There are as many ways to make coffee as there are brands or types of it. This daily morning ritual is carried out differently from one person to the next. For some, it is a scene taken straight of a Harry Potter potions class- with all that’s missing being Snape’s slick hair (we know you’ve got the wand!). For others, it’s as easy as forking out some money for a cup with their name on it. Others just like to push a button and watch the magic happen.
No matter what side of the divide you fall on, there’s no denying the satisfaction coming from brewing your own cup. Tastes are different, and you’d be hard-pressed to find one technique to rule them all. While some enthusiasts prefer more complex techniques like pour over, many do not want to perform alchemy every morning in their kitchens. Enter a select few devices that promise both simplicity and great taste. One such device is the Clever Dripper!
The Clever Dripper
This coffee-enhancing brewer is from E.K. International Co., Limited in Taiwan. It comes in either a small or large size—the latter being our main focus in this article. On the side of the package is the promise ‘Perfect For Home Use’- emblazoned right next to instructions on how to brew. In the large version box is the Clever Dripper itself, a lid, and a coaster. The coaster is really only aesthetic swag and doesn’t have any use in brewing. The small version only contains a lid. The lid is important for retaining temperature when brewing.
Design and Build
With built-in ridges, the cone-shaped design has a lot of similarity to the Hario V60, our challenger for today. The Clever Dripper claims to improve on the Pour-Over method made use of by the V60 by employing a more immersive brewing process. The dripper is constructed from Eastman Tritan BPA-free plastic, preventing the ‘plasticky’ taste cheaper plastic brewers can create. The down-side, however, is that the device is neither dishwasher-safe nor microwave-safe.
The larger variant of the Clever Dripper uses the number 4 filters while the small uses the number 2s. Filters are not included in the box. The interior ridges do an effective job of ensuring the filter stays in place during brewing.
What Makes it Clever?
The ‘clever’ in the name is most definitely earned. It has an “amazing” (their words!) shut-off system that dispenses coffee only when placed on top of a cup. It stops the moment it is lifted off of the cup. This special release ring has the silicone section attached to the bottom of the dripper. The stick-out legs on the bottom prevent the Dripper from other non-cup surfaces you may place it on. In essence, the Clever Dripper is a full-immersion brewer with the filtration of a pour-over.
The Clever Dripper can be found at most retailers for about $25.
Clever Dripper Brewing Process
To test out the Clever Dripper, we first started with the manufacturer’s brewing instructions, figuring that tweaks could always be made after the initial, standard assessment.
- Place the Clever Dripper on a surface of your choosing.
- Place any size 4 filter with a flat bottom inside the Clever Dripper
- Pour in some hot water, 91-96 degrees Celcius (195-204 degrees Fahrenheit). This is to wet the filter, remove any papery taste and to warm the cup.
- Pour in 20 grams of coarse or medium-ground coffee, followed by 300 milligrams of water.
- Agitate the mixture just a little to get any grains off the side of the Dripper.
- Close the lid and wait for the recommended 4-minute brewing time. (Warning: the four minutes will really drag on!)
- Place the Clever Dripper on a mug or glass that fits the bracket and watch it drip.
The resulting cup was a great-looking, perfectly-filtered cup of coffee with little bitterness or acidity.
Hario V60 vs Clever Dripper
The question is, is the Clever Dripper better than Pour-Over? Taking the V60 as the champion of Pour-Over, there are differences and similarities to be found. The V60 gets its name from the 60° conical shape with spiral ribs that ensure minimal contact between the filter and the V60’s edge. It also has a hole at the bottom.
- Conical shape
- Water is poured over the ground coffee in the filter
Differences: V60 vs Clever Dripper
- Ceramic build vs BPA-free plastic build
- Opening at the bottom vs Shut-off valve at the bottom
- requires a stand/ decanter/ mug vs can be used on any surface before brewing is done
- Water poured in continuously, small amounts at a time vs water poured in all at once
- Requires a goose-neck kettle vs doesn’t require a specific kettle
For Pour-Over, the rate at which you pour water onto the ground coffee determines its extraction, and how the coffee drips. The dripping starts almost immediately.
In contrast, the immersion method of the Clever Dripper has a shut-off valve that lets you pour all the water in at once. The coffee can steep for as long as you like depending on your taste.
The differences between the two may sway you in either direction. A true coffee lover may pick a ceramic V60 to better regulate temperature, an important factor when brewing. The simple joy of pouring water in a careful circular motion can be hard to pass up! However, the convenience of the Clever Dripper could be the right fit for a variety of coffee drinkers prioritizing ease-of-use. Its all a matter of personal preference.
The Clever Dripper Vs The Rest
The Clever Dripper draws inspiration from other coffee brewing methods while maintaining some differences. This has already been established for Pour-Over.
Vs French Press
They are both Immersion brewers. This means that for both, the coffee is submerged in the water for a period of time. The French Press, however, uses a metal filter in contrast to the paper filter used by the Clever Dripper. Metal filters allow coffee oils and sediment into the cup, which change the resulting taste. Generally, paper filtered coffee tastes a bit more light/crisp while metal filtered coffee tastes a bit more robust.
The French Press is probably more visually appealing with its beautiful glass build, but is much, much harder to clean.
They are both immersion brewers. The AeroPress is made up of more separate pieces than the Clever Dripper, but is virtually indestructible. The AeroPress is a tad more versatile and can make iced coffee, lattes and cappuccinos.
While the Clever Dripper is probably slightly easier to use, the Aeropress leverages pressure to enhance the resulting flavor. On balance, we’d give the flavor edge to the Aeropress.
Advantages of the Clever Dripper
- Gives more control over how long the brew steeps
- The entire brewing process can be done directly on the scale
- Full immersion, bold flavor without grit or sediment
- Light, portable, and great for travel
- Very affordable at around $20
- Great for single-serve coffee
- Easy to clean
- Easy to find affordable filters
- Time-saving. It allows concurrent tasks while brewing.
- Requires no brewing experience
Disadvantages of the Clever Dripper
- The plastic build not sustainable/environment-friendly
- Plastic build quality
- Silicon seal may not be as durable as seals in other equipment
Final Thoughts & Verdict
Going back to the question, is the Clever Dripper better than a Pour-Over? Well, as we’ve discussed above, there are pros and cons to each. We are sure you have your own verdict by now. Does the Clever Dripper brew a good cup of coffee? Yes- but in truth, however, it probably doesn’t offer the complexity of taste that pour over does. The real advantage of pour over is the ease of brewing a quality cup.
It is indeed great for home use and will not typically be found in coffee shops. The build is nothing to write about, but about what you’d expect at the $20 price tag. If what you’re after is a hassle-free home-brewing method, the Clever Dripper is for you.