Looking at coffee brewers and not really sure about the difference between the french press and clever dripper? I get it—they’re pretty similar. But there are some key differences that could be important to know.
Let’s walk through the similarities, discover those important differences, and figure out which one will be better suited for your lifestyle and taste preferences.
The Primary Similarity: Immersion Brewing
Both the french press and the clever dripper are what we call “immersion” brewers. Essentially, the coffee grounds and water are forced to interact for a period of time.
Unlike with pour over devices that allow gravity to pull the water through the grounds, immersion brewers don’t filter the brewed coffee from the grounds until you do something to initiate that filtering.
Both methods follow the same basic steps:
- Grind coffee at a medium to coarse setting
- Immerse the grounds in hot water for a few minutes
- Then filter the brewed coffee from the grounds
It’s fairly straightforward, doesn’t require a special water pouring technique, and it’s user-friendly. Because there’s prolonged coffee-water contact, immersion coffee has a full, balanced flavor. However, here’s also where our first big difference comes to light.
Difference #1: Metal VS Paper Filters
The french press is known for its metal filter. This filter allows coffee oils, as well as micro coffee grounds, through to your final mug.
The natural oils are very aromatic, adding another layer of flavor depth. They also give the coffee a smoother, creamier mouthfeel. The micro grounds are also aromatic and flavorful, giving the coffee a more ‘full’ flavor, however, the grounds also diminish the intensity of the coffee’s acids—which causes the coffee to seem bold, but not bright or acidic.
In the end, french press coffee is generally bold, full-flavored, and full-bodied.
Clever coffee can also seem full-flavored, but it’s usually less intense. The paper collects all the grounds, even the microscopic ones. It also absorbs a good portion of the aromatic oils. So, while it still has a very balanced flavor, it’s not as bold, rich, or heavy feeling as french press coffee.
Many people love the boldness of french press coffee. Other people would like something a little more gentle and balanced. Many people love the heavy body of french press coffee. Other people get tired of drinking tiny coffee grounds every sip.
Ultimately, you can’t make a wrong decision here when it comes to quality. Both brewers brew fantastic coffee.
Want the bold, fullness of french press coffee, or does the well-rounded and clean body of the Clever sound more up your alley?
Difference #2: The Cleanup Process
This is the part that gets a lot of people. The french press, as amazing as it is, is not the easiest brewer to clean up. Grounds get stuck in the filter, you have to shake the carafe over the trash a few times to get the stuff out, and—while it’s not hard—it can take a couple minutes.
For some, adding a full 90 seconds of cleanup time to the morning routine just isn’t an option—especially since they’re already investing a small bit of time to make french press coffee.
On this front, the Clever is the clear winner. All you have to do is lift the paper filter, toss it in the trash, and give the device a quick rinse. It takes no time at all.
Of course, this does introduce the element of paper waste. If you’re determined to reduce your carbon footprint by whatever means necessary, you’ll want to stick with the french press. If you think you can spare a filter or two a day, the clever will allow for a quick cleanup.
Difference #3: Design And Build
Taste and cleanup aside, brewer aesthetics do matter. A lot.
Nobody in the world has ever looked at a french press with disgust. The glass walls are crystal clear and beautiful. They give you a full view of your coffee while it’s brewing and they create a visual coffee experience as much as a flavorful one.
The french press is the quintessential relaxed coffee brewer. It’s the classic coffee maker of vacations, slow Saturday mornings, and coffee with friends.
The Clever, on the other hand, doesn’t really have much going for it visually-speaking. The BPA-free plastic is safe and fine, but it’s just not that pretty to look at. It doesn’t display your coffee mid-brew and it doesn’t really inspire wanderlust or any particular relaxed feeling. It’s functional, but not visually striking.
But the Clever’s visual weakness is also a strength. The material used to make the Clever is extremely durable.I know of cafes that have been using the same Clever drippers for years—but they’ve gone through quite a few glass presses.
This isn’t to say that the french press is fragile or unreliable, but it’s important to realize that the gorgeous glass is breakable and needs to be handled with care.
Visually, almost nothing beats the classic french press. But when it comes to durability, the less visually-pleasant Clever takes the cake here.
Two brewers, two flavor profiles, two cleanup routines, and two design strengths.
Which is a better fit for you? I can’t say, but you should have a pretty good idea which one will fit your lifestyle and flavor preferences more by this point.
You can’t go wrong with either brewer - but you can go wrong with the coffee you put in them.
Don’t waste your brewer’s potential by using them to make stale, low-grade coffee. Let your french press or clever shine with coffee that’s ripe with flavor, rich in aromatics, and super fresh.
Our JavaPresse Coffee Club sends you specialty-grade, freshly roasted beans right to your door every other week. They’re all great fits for both of these brewers - much moreso than anything you’ll find at your local supermarket.Check out the Club!