I’m going to be honest here, though I’ve had long-standing love affairs with the French Press, and even the vac-pot, drip brewing is a more recent interest. Like the good sheep I am, I’ll admit it was sparked by Square Mile’s now famous/infamous Chemex videocast. They are dangerous videos to watch because they usually make me want to go buy some new toys. I’ve actually really enjoyed using the Chemex, and other drip cones, I still love the elegance of the Chemex, but to a certain degree I find all of these manual drip methods as much of an art as a science.
With all coffee brewing there are 5 basic things you want to control:
- Coffee Dose
- Coffee Grind Size
- Water Dose
- Water Temperature
- Contact Time
Ideally these 5 elements would be completely independent of each other. However, with manual drip, contact time is inversely proportional to coffee dose and coffee grind size, meaning one cannot alter one without altering the other. In practice this often meant I was bumping up the dose a little, or making the grind a little finer to push out the contact time to the desired amount. It’s a bit like stepped espresso grinders, having to alter the dose to compensate for jumps in grind size.
Of course pour rate and pour style also influence contact time (and of course turbulence and agitation), but all things being equal contact time is dependent on coffee dose and grind size. Most people would agree, I’m sure, that contact time and grind size should be directly rather than inversely proportional.
Enter the Abid Clever Coffee Dripper.
These are not easy to acquire in Europe / US (yet). After scouring the internet looking to buy one, I eventually succeeded in getting one when the manufacturer kindly sent me one (thanks Jessica). I already had the tea brewer from Abid, rebranded by a few different sellers, which Abid call the Miraculous Coffee & Tea maker. Despite the name it isn’t actually great for coffee, producing a very sludgy cup (great tea brewer though).
The premise of their brewers is simple enough, you have a vessel in which coffee/tea can be brewed. At the bottom of the vessel there is a valve attached to a platform. When the platform is down the valve is closed, when it is pushed up (by placing the brewer on top of a cup), the valve opens, allowing the brew to exit at the bottom.
Basically the valve stays closed unless you place it on top of a cup or jug or something similar – then it opens.
The Clever differs from some of Abid’s other brewers being cone shaped, designed to accept a coffee filter (solving the sludge problem). Flat bottomed filters (eg Mellita) are the best fit, though I’ve found Chemex and Hario (paper and cloth) filters to work fine with the brewer. There is a small space under the filter, which is a slightly larger, though still a small space with the cone filters – no biggie. Well, there is one time when this becomes a little of an issue, if you are brewing more than one cup at one time, the liquid that fills this space tends to be weaker than the liquid that remains on the other side of the filter paper. By separating the brew into two cups, the first would get all of this portion. In this scenario it would be best to first empty into a preheated jug, before portioning into individual cups.
In practice I found myself using a coarse grind, much coarser than I would have dreamed of with a Chemex, with a somewhat high dose (80g / L) – though I don’t mean to prescribe on this. For a 4 minute brew you can allow to stand till about 3:15 – 3:25, then place on top of the cup. I like to submerge the grinds, however, after about 30-45 seconds. The grinds settle at the bottom of the cone and remain in contact with the brew water until the final moments. It does add about 30 seconds onto the drainage time for me (with my dose / grind size / brew volume). Fairly simple stuff, and by and large I’ve been very happy with the results. A super clean cup that is incredibly simple to prepare (and clean up after).
Probably worth noting that it’s also dishwasher and microwave safe, and while I can’t see much use for the latter, the former is a nice option to have.
Made a video of the Abid – this isn’t meant to prescribe a “definitive” technique for the brewer – it’s just how I have been using it.
As always – can be viewed in HD on Vimeo.com.
*Addendum 1* the drain time is of course dependent on your grind (and whether you submerge or not). With finer grinds I’ve experienced drain times of up to 2.5 mins.
*Addendum 2* looks like Sweet Maria’s are now selling the Abid – as you can see from the pics the one I was sent had Sweet Maria’s branding on it – so it’s little surprise.