CCD Experiments and More Tips
Our brew testing of various grind types
Too fine grind (left) and too coarse grind (right) comparing opacity in the cup with a back light. Not very scientific, but telling.
We have tried a few different methods of brewing in the CCD and cupped the results... Here are some tips and comments based on our tests. We invite your own input on this via the Forum! We still have some brew variations to try out, so this page will grow...
Don't use a Swiss Gold filter...
Let's start with the easy recommendations that resulted from our tests: Don't use a Swiss Gold filter! Okay, use one if you like, but we couldn't produce a good cup with one! We tried several times to get good results by using the Clever Coffee Dripper with a permanent gold filter. The results were a brew with poor texture (mouthfeel) and muddy flavors as well. The problem isn't specific to the CCD, it's a general Swiss gold issue, that too many fine particles of insoluble solids pass through the filter into the cup.
Soluble solids in coffee are the oils and other compounds dissolved by the hot water, whereas insoluble solids are small particles in the grounds and are comprised of the woody cellulose structure of the bean itself. These are normally trapped by paper filters, but make it into the cup with the French Press, espresso brewing or the Swiss gold type filters.
A little theory: There are 2 general ways of thinking about drip brewing: coffee ground particles suspended in liquid, or coffee particles forming a bed in the bottom of the filter, and the water percolating down through though them into the cup.
You can have good results with a Swissgold brew if, after the brew phase is over, you let the coffee sit for about 4 minutes undisturbed, and carefully pour from the top of you cup or carafe. The turbidity settles out in this time, and you can see some layering in the cup of clean, sediment-free brew at the top, muddy and turbid liquid at the bottom. (This is true with French Press too!) I think Swissgold works best in brewers where the grounds are not stirred, where it forms a bed and the water percolates through it. But in our brew method with the CCD, we stir the coffee at 1:30 minutes, and this makes for a gritty brew. So you might say, "just don't stir with the Swissgold!" Well, we found that result cleaner in terms of sediment but lacking in overall cup flavors.
Cover the dripper
We like to cover the dripper during brewing; use a small plate or or pot lid. One of the advantages here over a standard filter cone holder is that you can maintain a thermal mass of hot water steeping the coffee. Covering it helps to reduce heat loss.
We tested for cup quality and brew strength using a range of grinds. One of the nice things about the CCD is that grind and brew timing are no longer linked. Consider this: in a standard filter cone, you usually need to grind coffee ridiculously fine in order to extend brew times, to slow the rate at which the coffee drains into the receptacle. The CCD frees up the process from using grind in this way: you can grind to your preference, a French Press type grind if you like that, or a filter grind. To the right is an image of the range of grinds we tested, and the middle was the best.
No surprises here ...the best grind was a fairly typical drip grind. We liked the French Press type grind for the clarity and cleanliness of the cup. But we found a little less body. The fine grind tasted slightly acrid, over-infused. I fear that those used to a typical filter cone brew have also ground coffee very fine out of habit, so you might want to err on the side of coarse, then go progressively finer if you think the coffee lacks body.
Keep it Clean
Do not allow residue to build up in the filter; lightly scrub the cone with very hot water and a sponge or brush, taking care to clean shut-off mechanism lightly from the top. If necessary, use a detergent-free cleaner designed for carafes and filter cones. When we get buildup in a filter cone, we soak it in a strong espresso machine cleaner (Urnex Cafiza) and very hot water for 5 minutes, scrub with a brush and rinse with very hot water.
Ideal Brewing: the "1.5 Minute Stir" method.
Here are some more specific recommendations for exactly how I use the brewer
- Step 1: Put the paper filter into the dripper.
- Step 2: Add coffee into the filter
- Step 3: Add all the water at once and cover, wait 1.5 minutes, then lift the cover and stir to fully mix the grounds and water. Re-cover for remaining infusion time and drain.
- Step 4: When infusion time is up, place dripper on top of a mug or other vessel. Coffee will drain for approximately 1.5 minutes or less. To stop the flow, simply lift the dripper off the mug.
|Amount of Ground Coffee||2 scoops/22g|
|Water used||12 oz/350 mL/361 grams*|
|Infusion time||3 - 4:00 min|
|Amount of Filtered Coffee Made||10 oz/300 mL|
* We have found that for the most accurate brewing, it is best to measure your water by weight. This is easily done by preparing your coffee on a scale. For 22 grams of coffee, you want to use 361 grams of hot water.
** These recommendations are based on using a regular drip grind. If you use a coarser grind, you may need to lengthen extraction time.
Other little notations
- The dripper is made from BPA-free plastic. The jury is out on BPA, and most of the concerns have focused on baby bottles, but it's good to know it has no BPA in the plastic
- The cone is brittle enough that if you drop it, you can break off one of the 4 little "feet". Breaking of a foot makes the brewer unstable and if it leans it will activate the drainer. You can super glue a foot back onto it - it doesn't contact the coffee brew. But it's one fragility on the device that is otherwise fairly bullet-proof.
- I have used one for months and noticed absolutely no drips during brewing, or occasionally one little drip. Twice (out of scores of uses) the stopper seemed stuck after I had cleaned it, and it started to drain when it shouldn't. A quick tap to the bottom solved that.
- The dripper can be used with any glass, mug or thermos bottle. The dripper will fit on cups and thermoses with tops between 1.5" and 3.75" in diameter. Of course, if you put the dripper on a very narrow thermos, you should make sure the dripper is stable. If you want to place something on top as a lid (which we highly recommend!), it needs to be at least 5.5" in diameter
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