Manual brewing methods have increased in popularity over the last seven years, beginning with baristas who prefer to create coffee drinks rather than simply push buttons. With machine brewing the person brewing is responsible for weighing, grinding, and pushing a button. They have very little influence on the quality of the resulting coffee compared to making espresso. Highly trained baristas working in quality driven coffeehouses are knowledgeable about their product and its preparation and think like chefs rather than counter clerks. Its no surprise they begin looking for more control over brewing variables like they have with espresso preparation. Unlike espresso, those of us who brew coffee at home can easily duplicate the coffeehouse experience for drip coffee with manual brewing methods.
Machine brewing takes three of the key brewing variables out of our hands. These key variable are time, temperature, and turbulence. The key variables left to us include grind and coffee to water ratio. Commercial brewers found in coffeehouses have the power necessary to produce the right temperature and the technology for balancing temperature with time and turbulence. Over the last few years, a few home brewers have emerged that are certified by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) as controlling the variable to produce a properly brewed cup of coffee. But manual pour over methods remain the least expensive and least wasteful way of brewing a good cup of coffee at home. Manual brewing methods include a simple cone filter, Hario cone, Chemex, French Press and the Clever Coffee Dripper, among others. Among these, the Clever Dripper could be considered unique because it delivers the prolonged steeping time of a French Press without the accompanying sediment and heavy mouthfeel that some people dislike.
Unlike a straight cone filter you can control the brewing time because the Clever comes with a built in stopper that is activated when it is placed on top of a cup. Like any manual cone filter you can control turbulence (or saturation of grounds) while pouring water over the grounds. Unlike other manual cone filters you have an opportunity to stir the coffee while it steeps, if you choose. (It will come as no surprise that to stir or not to stir is debated among coffee geeks.) While the Clever could not be called better in any objective sense than other manual brewing methods it is unique in the number of variables it allows you to control while remaining relatively inexpensive and very easy to use.