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Clever Coffee

December 23, 2010

I apologize in advance for the very coffee-centric turn this blog is about to take. Non-coffee drinkers, don’t worry… this is still primarily a food blog. The fact of the matter is, however, that during finals, coffee supersedes food. Caffeination is motivation. Just don’t do what I did and accidentally try three kinds of drip beans, a huge Evian bottle full of undiluted cold-brew concentrate, followed by two shots of espresso. I was in quite the drunken state of mind and honestly didn’t remember what I had said or done the next day.

It’s been a long time since I blogged, but in that short time period, I’ve gone from an espresso-lover to a pour over convert. Still love my cappuccinos, but I had to acknowledge what I didn’t want to admit: that there is so much more variation in drip coffee. Each cup is different, each brewing method is different, and even the coffee temperature alters the taste.

This little baby is more important to me now than my Vitamix.

What is it, you ask? The Clever Coffee dripper (patented by Sweet Maria’s) is actually a Chinese invention (and yet nobody in China drinks pour over coffee…), an ingenious French Press-Filter cone hybrid. Basically, think of something like the Hario, but with a valve at the bottom of the dripper. The stopper allows you to control the steeping time, but still takes some time to extract the flavor from the beans.

1. Put a filter (#4 works best) in the Clever and rinse it to eliminate any papery taste.

2. Measure out your beans. There’s a specific coffee:water ratio where 22 g coffee makes a 10 oz cup. Personally, that is just not enough caffeine for me, so I use 33 g coffee and 18 oz water. Now, I know I should be more precise when measuring my water, but I just fill up a 16 oz peanut butter jar (empty, obviously), pour it into my kettle, and then add a smidge more water.

3. Put up the water to boil. It should be just off the boil– don’t pour it into the filter while it’s actually boiling.

4. Grind your beans. I’ve never tweaked the grind more than a notch away from medium (halfway between espresso-fine and French Press-coarse) and found that even the slightest deviation tends to make the coffee too acidic or bitter.

5. Add beans to filter and start pouring from the kettle in a circular motion. Start the timer and cover the filter.

6. At 1:30, stir the grounds once or twice (I use a chopstick). Cover again.

7. At 4:00, stir one more time, then put the Clever over a mug. It’ll drain by itself.

Is that not genius? What can I say– the Chinese know how to design stuff. Well, okay, I think it’s Taiwanese, but I’m gonna take pride in this anyway.

What coffees have I tried on the Clever? Well, my personal favorite is Intelligentsia’s Papua New Guinea, which is smokey and rich without tasting overly roasted. My friend Kevin swears by the Ugandan he orders from Iowa, but it’s a tad aggressive for me. Same goes with the Metropolis Sumatra I ordered.

I had a little “housewarming” party to test out my clever. We had a plethora of coffees to sample: my New Guinea, the Ugandan, Cafe Grumpy’s Kenya, and Hawaii’s Kona Coffee. Both the Kenya and Kona surprised me: they were bright, but not acidic.

That’s what I’ve found with the Clever– unless the grind is off, it eliminates bitter and sour compounds. Of course, this is more apparent when you drink your coffee black, BUT…

I still belong to the Raw Milk Co-op.

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