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A Better Way to Drip

Coffee steeps for a few minutes in the Clever Coffee Dripper. To keep the water hot, it's best to use a plate as a lid. (Joe Yonan -- The Washington Post)

In June, I wrote about a coffee-making find: a little porcelain dripper made by a Japanese company I touted as my new favorite stripped-down way to get my morning java fix. I also confessed to serial gadgetry and wrote, "Now I can't imagine making my morning brew any other way, no matter what gadget comes along. I guess I've finally settled down."

Well, my wandering eye is at it again, and I've succumbed to temptation.

When the coffee has steeped, transfer it to a cup, where a spring-loaded trigger causes it to flow. (Joe Yonan -- The Washington Post)

I have Maria Troy of Sweet Maria's Coffee in Oakland, Calif., to blame. Maria read my ode to the Beehouse dripper, which her company sells, and couldn't resist sending me her favorite coffee-making gadget. It's a dripper that operates on a similar principle to a tea maker that I've long owned and enjoyed: The coffee grounds steep in the water, in a paper filter inside the dripper cone, but rather than dripping through immediately, it stays put until you decide you're ready for it. Then you set it the device on your coffee cup, which activates a little spring that allows the brewed coffee to pour through. Basically, it's like a combination of a French press and the aforementioned dripper.

I tried it, and it works beautifully. The result is a richer flavor than you get with most drippers, but a filtering of all that sediment that happens with a traditional French press. And the on/off spring mechanism means you can make coffee for two, moving from one cup to the other after you steep the grounds for a few minutes.

The result: a beautiful brew and easy-to-dispose grounds. (Joe Yonan -- The Washington Post)

As it turns out, Maria had seen the tea device I've been using, and thought, "Why can't they make that for coffee?" Then she saw the coffee device, called "Clever Coffee Dripper," at a shop in Boston and at another in San Francisco. Those owners had spent a pretty penny buying the devices at retail from the manufacturer in Taiwan, shipping them over, then selling them for an even prettier penny to customers here. Maria had another idea: She found the company, persuaded it to sell her cases of the device at wholesale, and thus is able to sell them through her Web site for just $13.50.

The thing is selling so well she's now talked the company into fixing one of its only drawbacks: the lack of a lid. To keep the water temperature at the preferred 195 to 205 degrees, after letting it come off a boil, she advises customers to use a small plate to cover the device while the coffee is steeping in it. But soon, another version will be available with a built-in lid.

Great. Looks like my serial gadgetry will continue.

-- Joe Yonan

By Joe Yonan  |  July 22, 2009; 4:45 PM ET
Categories:  Shopping  | Tags: Joe Yonan, coffee  
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Paper filters remove most of the oils that give coffee real flavor. Have you ever tried a Swiss Gold filter?

Posted by: backblow | July 22, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Clever, but without a lid just a messy desk waiting to happen. I'll wait for the next model.

Posted by: lechat17 | July 22, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Backblow, I have tried the gold filters -- and I prefer paper. Believe me, there's plenty of real flavor in this coffee.

Posted by: joeyonan | July 23, 2009 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Philz Coffee in San Francisco has been using a system just like this for many years now. They use 10 or so strung out in a row to allow them to make many in rapid fire succession for crazed coffee fanatics. Still it is nice to see a version for the home. I will give it a try soon, even thought I am an avowed morning cappuccino man.


Posted by: philsara | July 23, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse


You've missed the best coffee brewing system of all - the Toddy. I've been using it for years! It is a cold brew method that you can use overnight to make the best coffee ever. Using a Toddy brew container with the plug and filter, you put the fresh coffee in the container and then add water. After 8 hrs, you let it strain into the waiting carafe. The resulting intense coffee 'liquor' is then used to make your cup or pot. Approximately 2 oz. of the coffee plus 6 oz. of hot water gives you a great cup without the acid and all the flavor you could ever want.

Website is

Posted by: debbyc1 | July 29, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

oops, make that

Posted by: debbyc1 | July 29, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

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