Confessions of a home brewing enthusiast: Brewing with a Clever Dripper

Confessions of a home brewing enthusiast: Brewing with a Clever Dripper

By Michael Gormley

Our resident home brewing nerd, Mick, has been playing around with the Clever Dripper and shares his thoughts here. 

Not love at First Sight

The first impression given by the Clever Dripper is that it’s not particularly stylish in comparison to the Kalita or V60 drippers. The Clever Dripper is (BPA free) plastic but so are the Aeropress, and the best V60s. That smoked plastic look feels a little bit Eighties, and makes it look a bit awkward next to sleeker more minimalist brewing gear. 

Rather than just aesthetics, however, I think the main issue with the Clever Dripper might be one of trust.  If something proclaims itself to be clever I think we tend to suspect that the opposite might be true.

Looking below the surface

Looks can be deceiving however. The Clever Dripper requires very little effort, technique or skill, but still manages to produce consistently excellent coffee. If you have great beans ground well, all you need are some cheap scales, some filters and you are set. It feels like there should be a catch, and our natural response is to mistrust our own judgement, when we get results that contradict our expectations or prejudices.

I know I did, and so I was especially careful to consult as many colleagues as possible when trialling the dripper over the last couple of weeks, comparing its brews against other bits of kit, in particular the Kalita Wave. 

Clever Dripper Vs. Kalita Wave

Not everyone on our team had a clear favourite between these two methods and both brought out the best in our Domingo Aguirre Diaz (Peru) coffee - lovely complex gentle fruit with floral notes and delicious honey sweetness. 

Our coffee roaster Rachel has been watching with fascination as I got to grips with the Clever Dripper; initially sceptical she was totally converted as she started drinking the results. When we tasted coffees made by Kalita and the Clever Dripper side-by-side she was impressed by the greater clarity of the latter, which she pointed out was achieved without it losing any body, or becoming under-extracted.  For her the coffee made with the Clever Dripper was clearly superior.

We were both also impressed with the mouthfeel achieved with the Clever Dripper, which was richer than I'd expected -  smooth, lingering and satisfying. Visually the liquid in the cup was markedly 'cleaner' than the Kalita (particularly as I left the coffees to cool, which allows you to taste different notes in the coffee). In case there was some deficiency in my pouring technique with the Kalita I tried multiple brews but found the same results with every brew.

Cost of Brewing

So much of the coffee paraphernalia that we are tempted to shell out on is - to quote an Eighties beer advertising campaign - 'reassuringly expensive' (if it costs a lot of money, it must be better, right?).  This might be true of espresso machines and grinders, but it's by no means the case with other methods of brewing. The Kalita pour-over brewer itself is not a pricey piece of kit (£28 on our website), but it has to brew into something, and has such a strong aesthetic appeal that it's impossible to resist the glass server or flask that Kalita makes, and which will add around another £28 to the price tag.

The Clever Dripper also has to brew into a container, but will comfortably sit on top of an ordinary mug and, if you are following the recipe we recommend, brews a mug-ish 300 ml.  I tend to brew 500 ml with the Kalita as brewing 250 ml requires an adjustment of technique which adds another layer of complexity. For 500 ml I'm going to brew into a delightful flask (which my wife refuses to wash in case she breaks it).


All this being said, I absolutely love brewing with a Kalita. Until 18 months ago, when I started working at Steampunk, I kept to espresso, Aeropress and moka pot and felt the Kalita or pour-overs in general required some kind of Jedi magic to make them work. This is definitely not the case - the techniques required to get the best from your coffee are relatively easily acquired - a few YouTube tutorials later and you can feel the power of the force guiding your hand. There is definitely a very pleasurable sense of ceremony involved, but sadly the technique is made easier to master by using a gooseneck pouring kettle - another piece of kit which nudges the expenditure into another league.

If it's possible to achieve a similar style of coffee, and by some accounts a superior brew, with a more straightforward-to-use and less expensive brewer, then it's worth overcoming a natural wariness of the cheap and cheerful, and giving the Clever Dripper a go.

I know what I'll be packing when I head off camping after pizza shift on Saturday night!


My recipes for the Domingo Aguirre Diaz (Peru) brews were:

Clever Dripper:

300 ml @ 100c

18g Peru Domingo Aguirre Diaz 

Baratza Encore grind setting 4 (with the caveat that people's Baratza settings may differ slightly)

  • 2-minute steep
  • Gentle stir (no whirlpools)
  • Release after another 30 seconds 



500 ml @100c

30g Peru Domingo Aguirre Diaz 

Baratza Encore grind setting 4 (with the caveat that people's Baratza settings may differ slightly)

  • Wet filter paper and warm the flask
  • Pour in the ground coffee, make a little well with your finger
  • 0-15s pour 60-90g water to wet the grounds
  • 15-45s allow grounds to 'bloom'
  • At 45s evenly pour gentle, radiating circles of water to achieve total of 300 ml at 1m15s 
  • At 1m15s pour gentle, radiating circles of water to achieve total of 300 ml at 1m45s
  • At 1m 45s drawdown - allow coffee to drain into your fancy, aesthetically pleasing flask, or other, more mundane container  
Back to blog