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WonderClown
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Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 220
Location: NC, USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gave away a Saeco Via Veneto...
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso, Zassenhaus
Drip: Buchner funnel + vacuum...
Roaster: WB Poppery I
Posted Fri Dec 7, 2007, 9:16am
Subject: Poor Man's Clover
 

I've been meaning to post about this for quite some time.  Several months ago I started experimenting with laboratory glassware for brewing coffee with vacuum filtration, somewhat like a Clover, or perhaps more like an Aeropress using vacuum instead of pressure to filter quickly.  The primary advantages of this method vs. normal drip brewing are the same as the advantages of the Clover or Aeropress -- much shorter brewing time, finer grind, more control over temperature and other variables.  You end up with an espresso-strength brew, which you can then dilute to americano strength if you like, or use straight or in a milk drink.  (I am not claiming that the result is espresso, just that it is espresso-strength -- or can be, depending on water/coffee ratio).  I have posted a brief description of the method over in the Aeropress thread:

"Poor Man's Clover"

It's basically a buchner funnel, filtering flask, and a hand-driven vacuum pump -- Google will kindly tell you what all those things are, with pictures.  I've been through a number of iterations on the process and have made a lot of mistakes and learned a few things.  I haven't had time to record all that in a well-organized and coherent fashion yet, but in that post and in the rest of this you have a somewhat haphazard introduction.  Feel free to ask questions.

I'm not sure I recommend the setup that the other poster in the Aeropress thread bought on eBay.  You might want a larger or smaller funnel, depending on your needs, and you might want to buy a better funnel -- that one looks like it has large holes, which means the filter needs to be stronger to avoid breaking under the pressure.  Mine is a rather expensive CoorsTek funnel, which has a larger number of smaller holes (and is generally just an elegant piece of functional art -- very well made, but also pricey).  I first tried a really terrible and even cheaper funnel than the other poster (gt) bought, with even bigger holes, and had problems with the filter paper breaking and spewing grounds into my brew.  Once gt gets some experience with that mid-priced funnel, perhaps he can fill us in on whether he has any problems with filters breaking.  If not, then you could save some money going that route.

There's a lot of used lab glassware out there, but I advise staying away from it for this purpose.  You never know what sort of hazardous materials the equipment might have been in contact with, or how well the lab cleaned it before dumping it in a box and sending it off to the surplus outlet.

There is much room for experimentation regarding filter material.  I haven't found a completely satisfactory solution yet, but there are a number of things I've found that are good enough.  More info in the other post.

I also forgot to mention in the other thread that the water/coffee ratio I use is 11-12g coffee and roughly 45-50mL water per shot.  That ratio was shamelessly stolen from Alan Alder's recommendations for the Aeropress, and I owe him a a great debt of gratitude for inspiring this method in the first place.  I can brew anything from singles to 8 shots at a time (octuples?).  Larger funnels could handle even more.  Water temperature is up to you -- I use 180F usually.  Grind is on the coarse end of the espresso range, much finer than drip.

If anybody else is interested in trying this, please let me know!  If enough people get interested, we might be able to have some custom filters cut for us from suitable material.

UPDATE: Finally got a few photos.  More photos here.

WonderClown: emptysetup.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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CoffeeRoastersClub
Senior Member
CoffeeRoastersClub
Joined: 6 Jul 2005
Posts: 4,455
Location: Connecticut
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vintage La Pavoni Lever...
Grinder: Breville Smartgrind,...
Vac Pot: Vintage Silex, Nicro...
Drip: Technivorm Moccamaster...
Roaster: javaPRO-CRC AIR Fluid Bed...
Posted Fri Dec 7, 2007, 9:36am
Subject: Re: Poor Man's Clover
 

Can you post some pictures?

Len
CoffeeRoastersClub.com

 
"Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water." ~The Women's Petition Against Coffee, 1674

www.CoffeeRoastersClub.com     www.javaPRO-CRC.com     www.KaffeeFrisch.com
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WonderClown
Senior Member


Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 220
Location: NC, USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gave away a Saeco Via Veneto...
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso, Zassenhaus
Drip: Buchner funnel + vacuum...
Roaster: WB Poppery I
Posted Fri Dec 7, 2007, 10:01am
Subject: Re: Poor Man's Clover
 

I'll try to get some photos this weekend.  Until then, here is an eBay listing showing pretty much all the components you need -- it really is a standard laboratory setup.  I didn't invent the equipment -- my idea was just to apply it to coffee.  I don't necessarily recommend this particular setup for the reasons I stated above (holes in funnel look a bit too big -- gt bought one, and we'll see if he has any trouble with it):

Click Here (cgi.ebay.com)

Scroll down to the photo where everything is connected together.  You can buy all the parts separately from lab supply places.  That type of vacuum pump is also available at auto parts stores -- it's used for brake bleeding and a few other automotive repair tasks.

I have a few recommendations to make about which parts to buy.  I'll try to get that all written down this weekend as well.
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CoffeeRoastersClub
Senior Member
CoffeeRoastersClub
Joined: 6 Jul 2005
Posts: 4,455
Location: Connecticut
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vintage La Pavoni Lever...
Grinder: Breville Smartgrind,...
Vac Pot: Vintage Silex, Nicro...
Drip: Technivorm Moccamaster...
Roaster: javaPRO-CRC AIR Fluid Bed...
Posted Fri Dec 7, 2007, 10:57am
Subject: Re: Poor Man's Clover
 

WonderClown Said:

I'll try to get some photos this weekend.  Until then, here is an eBay listing showing pretty much all the components you need -- it really is a standard laboratory setup.  I didn't invent the equipment -- my idea was just to apply it to coffee.  I don't necessarily recommend this particular setup for the reasons I stated above (holes in funnel look a bit too big -- gt bought one, and we'll see if he has any trouble with it):

Click Here (cgi.ebay.com)

Scroll down to the photo where everything is connected together.  You can buy all the parts separately from lab supply places.  That type of vacuum pump is also available at auto parts stores -- it's used for brake bleeding and a few other automotive repair tasks.

I have a few recommendations to make about which parts to buy.  I'll try to get that all written down this weekend as well.

Posted December 7, 2007 link

Thanks.  Do you know if everything is of food quality plastic?

Len
CoffeeRoastersClub.com

 
"Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water." ~The Women's Petition Against Coffee, 1674

www.CoffeeRoastersClub.com     www.javaPRO-CRC.com     www.KaffeeFrisch.com
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gt
Senior Member


Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 210
Location: Mpls/St Paul MN
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: None
Grinder: Virtuoso
Drip: Cones & CCD
Roaster: P1 w/ variacs
Posted Fri Dec 7, 2007, 11:21am
Subject: Re: Poor Man's Clover
 

WonderClown, I would like to thank you again for sharing your experiences here with your vacuum/buchner funnel brewing idea.  I have lots to learn here but hopefully I (plus others) can shorten the process and benefit from your experiences.

My interests are more along the lines of shorting the brew cycle (Clover) than making a concentrated brew (AeroPress). I like to brew single 14-15 oz cups of regular strength coffee and although my AeroPress makes a superior cup it requires 3 AP scoops of coffee and Iím trying to do a quick non-concentrated brew using 2 AP scoops of coffee.  I currently do this by mixing 1 oz of coffee with 15-16 oz of hot water in a glass beaker for approximately 30 seconds and then filter through a standard Melitta drip cone.  Everything goes fast except for the last third of the process when the drip cone really slows down.  So like I said in the other thread, I order the above eBay setup and hope to try it next week but I can see from your experiences Iíve got more work to do.
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WonderClown
Senior Member


Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 220
Location: NC, USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gave away a Saeco Via Veneto...
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso, Zassenhaus
Drip: Buchner funnel + vacuum...
Roaster: WB Poppery I
Posted Fri Dec 7, 2007, 11:23am
Subject: Re: Poor Man's Clover
 

CoffeeRoastersClub Said:

Thanks.  Do you know if everything is of food quality plastic?

Posted December 7, 2007 link

It's even better than that -- everything that touches the brew is porcelain or glass.  I don't know if the vacuum pump and tubing are food-quality, but it doesn't matter because the coffee never enters the vacuum pump or tubing -- only air goes that way, and the brew drops down into the glass flask.  I stir with a silicone spatula, but you could use whatever you like for that.  I have also tried a small stainless steel whisk and one of those battery-operated frothing wands (aerolatte) for stirring, and both work well.  I prefer to use the spatula so that I don't have to worry about changing batteries in the aerolatte all the time, and it's easier to clean than the whisk.

Just to clarify how this works -- you put a circle of filter paper in the funnel, put the funnel over the flask with a good seal, and pour the coffee/water mixture into the funnel.  (I mix coffee and water in a separate glass measuring cup, then pour it in.)  The the pump sucks air out of the flask through the side port near the top, creating a partial vacuum inside the flask, which sucks the brewing water into the flask, while the filter retains the grounds up in the funnel.  You don't end up with coffee entering the vacuum tube because it's all the way at the top of the flask, and the water level never reaches that high.  It does a very good job of sucking most of the the water out; the grounds end up in a fairly dry "puck" up in the funnel at the end, just like an Aeropress.  It is not nearly as compressed as an espresso puck -- though I have been meaning to experiment with tamping the grounds into the funnel and then pouring water over the top.  But I doubt this would do much good, and you probably can't create a strong enough vacuum to pull the water through a compressed puck quickly enough.  (Even a perfect vacuum inside the flask would result in 1 atmosphere of pressure difference across the puck -- much less than the 9 bar required for espresso).
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CoffeeRoastersClub
Senior Member
CoffeeRoastersClub
Joined: 6 Jul 2005
Posts: 4,455
Location: Connecticut
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vintage La Pavoni Lever...
Grinder: Breville Smartgrind,...
Vac Pot: Vintage Silex, Nicro...
Drip: Technivorm Moccamaster...
Roaster: javaPRO-CRC AIR Fluid Bed...
Posted Fri Dec 7, 2007, 11:35am
Subject: Re: Poor Man's Clover
 

WonderClown Said:

It's even better than that -- everything that touches the brew is porcelain or glass.  I don't know if the vacuum pump and tubing are food-quality, but it doesn't matter because the coffee never enters the vacuum pump or tubing -- only air goes that way, and the brew drops down into the glass flask.  I stir with a silicone spatula, but you could use whatever you like for that.  I have also tried a small stainless steel whisk and one of those battery-operated frothing wands (aerolatte) for stirring, and both work well.  I prefer to use the spatula so that I don't have to worry about changing batteries in the aerolatte all the time, and it's easier to clean than the whisk.

Posted December 7, 2007 link

Thanks Wonder.  I like these type of things.  The more funky looking the better!

Len
CoffeeRoastersClub.com

 
"Coffee leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water." ~The Women's Petition Against Coffee, 1674

www.CoffeeRoastersClub.com     www.javaPRO-CRC.com     www.KaffeeFrisch.com
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WonderClown
Senior Member


Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 220
Location: NC, USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gave away a Saeco Via Veneto...
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso, Zassenhaus
Drip: Buchner funnel + vacuum...
Roaster: WB Poppery I
Posted Fri Dec 7, 2007, 11:39am
Subject: Re: Poor Man's Clover
 

gt Said:

My interests are more along the lines of shorting the brew cycle (Clover) than making a concentrated brew (AeroPress). I like to brew single 14-15 oz cups of regular strength coffee and although my AeroPress makes a superior cup it requires 3 AP scoops of coffee and Iím trying to do a quick non-concentrated brew using 2 AP scoops of coffee.  I currently do this by mixing 1 oz of coffee with 15-16 oz of hot water in a glass beaker for approximately 30 seconds and then filter through a standard Melitta drip cone.  Everything goes fast except for the last third of the process when the drip cone really slows down.  So like I said in the other thread, I order the above eBay setup and hope to try it next week but I can see from your experiences Iíve got more work to do.

Posted December 7, 2007 link

I think it will work fine for what you're talking about.  You won't be able to fit that much brew water in the funnel at once, so you'll have to fill up the funnel and then keep topping it off from the beaker as you go, until it's all through.  So long as your filter paper holds up, it should work just fine.  If you have trouble with the filter clogging or breaking, double up the filter paper and see if that helps.  If not, get some decent standard coffee filter cones and cut out circles of the right size, and see if that works.

Here's another important tip: When it comes time to wash the funnel out, wash it out upside down.  If you rinse the grounds through it right-side up, you'll end up with grounds stuck in the bottom portion of the funnel, which will come out next time you brew and end up in your cup.  You really don't want yesterday's stale grounds in your cup.  (Guess how I know!  For the longest time, I thought the grounds were somehow getting through the filter and tried a dozen different types of filter, before I figured out they were coming from the funnel itself.)  So I hold it upside down, blow lightly into the funnel stem to pop the puck and filter out, then hold it upside down under running water to wash the remaining grounds out, running my finger along the inside as I go to make sure it all gets out.  This way the grounds all get rinsed out the top and never enter into the bottom portion of the funnel, which is nearly impossible to clean.  I usually don't bother with soap, as the porcelain rinses clean on its own.  Every couple of weeks I use a little soap just in case there's some build-up I can't see.  (Sanitation is not really a problem -- every time you brew you're pouring water into this thing that's hot enough to kill bacteria -- unless you're cold brewing, I guess.)  The porcelain is dishwasher-safe, but because of the shape of the funnel, it doesn't get cleaned very well in the dishwasher.  (Ditto for the flask, which I also wash by hand with dish soap, but only every couple of weeks.  A quick rinse is all I do most of the time.)
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WonderClown
Senior Member


Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 220
Location: NC, USA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gave away a Saeco Via Veneto...
Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso, Zassenhaus
Drip: Buchner funnel + vacuum...
Roaster: WB Poppery I
Posted Fri Dec 7, 2007, 11:43am
Subject: Re: Poor Man's Clover
 

Just to clarify my last post -- when I wash out the funnel upside-down, I'm running the water into the funnel stem, so that it flows through the filter plate and out the main body of the funnel, taking the coffee grounds with it.
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gt
Senior Member


Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 210
Location: Mpls/St Paul MN
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: None
Grinder: Virtuoso
Drip: Cones & CCD
Roaster: P1 w/ variacs
Posted Fri Dec 7, 2007, 11:59am
Subject: Re: Poor Man's Clover
 

OK thanks, I'm sure I would learn all these things the hard way if wasn't for you - gt
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