Clever extraction tasting experiment

As a follow-up to a question a friend asked me about brewing with a Clever dripper, I decided to do an experiment.

If aren’t familiar with the Clever, its a pretty neat device – a sort of pourover cone with a valve at the bottom that stays closed until placed on a mug or server/decanter. So, there is an initial full immersion brewing stage before a drawdown drip stage where the water drains down through the coffee bed and filter.

Here’s a picture of a Clever partying with some pizza. and Daria.


the experiment

I brewed up some coffee (Counter Culture’s Baroida PNG) using my usual brew recipe on the Clever (21g coffee to 340g water, 2 min. full immersion steep, ~2min. drawdown). The only thing i did differently was the drawdown. I decanted in two stages – the first half of the kdrawdown (eyeballing volume, 5-6 oz) in one mug, the second half in a second.


The results were somewhat predictable. The first half of the drawdown was characteristically underextracted – sour and intensely fruity; the second half was more complex, but the fruit had receded WAY into the background, and an ashy flavor became prominent that hadn’t existed at all in the first cup.

So the beginning and end of the drawdown were indeed totally different – more different than I had expected even, considering both were steeped for two minutes before I even started the first drawdown, and the whole thing was over less than 2 minutes later. (The first and second halves of a v60 for instance would be way more different, since the first would start at 0:00. In fact, I may try this with a v60 next time to really break down the whole drip extraction.)

conclusions: thinking about the device

so, the results of the experiment were not really unexpected, except maybe just that there was more extraction happening in the drawdown stage than I had imagined.

In true full immersion brewing, like a French press or cupping, extraction really slows down after the first couple of minutes. The turbulence of the water flowing through the coffee bed in the drawdown with the Clever surely increases the rate of extraction at that point.

The cool thing about this device is the repeatability. Pouring technique has about as much impact on the final brew as it would in a French press, and the primary source of turbulence is in the drawdown, which should be the same every time assuming equal dose/ratio/grind/distribution.

Another reason I’ve been thinking a lot about this is that we started renovating one of our ERC shops a week ago (it’ll reopen in another week as a Pavement!). We knew we wanted to add a manual brew bar, but were a little bit torn over choice of brew method.

After a lot of backing and forthing, I am super-excited to open up there with Clevers on the brew bar – especially since I’ll probably be doing much of the brewing there the first couple weeks!


About barnwolf

head barista for pavement coffeehouse and erc boston
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