(Click on all pics to embiggen.)
A couple months ago a friend tweeted about the Cafflano Klassic portable coffee maker. Apparently it had a successful Kickstarter which I somehow missed. The Cafflano Klassic claims to be a system for the perfect pour-over while on the road. Just add beans and hot water and: POOF! Amazing coffee.
This almost seemed too good to be true, but since it’s a manual coffee gadget I felt nigh on obligated to give it a try. If it worked then it could be a candidate to replace my Aeropress + Porlex Grinder as my go-to coffee solution while on the road.
What most appealed to me about the Cafflano Klassic (henceforth CK) was how compact the entire setup was. The CK packs a burr mill grinder, a metal filter, a drip kettle, and a tumbler all in one neat and well-contained package. The grinder and filter nest inside the tumbler with the dripper forming the top of the entire lot. This would make it very easy to grab, fill with beans, toss into your luggage, and then leave for travel and adventures (or, in my case, conferences).
After it arrived, I used the CK to make all my morning coffee for an entire week. All tests were performed using a Congo Kivu Bukavu-Beni from Sweet Maria’s home-roasted to a City+ roast. The roast was approximately three days old when I started the tests. Each test used 18 grams of beans.
Aside from just giving it the time for a fair test, this was also how long it took me to confirm I’d dialed in the appropriate grind for this brewer.
I started with a grind of the fineness I use for my Aeropress (aka: my Porlex setting). This was a terrible idea, as the grinds very quickly clogged the fine mesh of the strainer. No amount of stirring would clear it up, so I was forced to scrap half of the batch.
Next I tried a coarser grind, something more akin to the setting I use on my Hario Skerton for my Clever Dripper. That grind was a bit better in the CK, but there were still a lot of clogging problems.
The third day I tried a grind which I thought would be far too coarse and would never result in a decent coffee (the Cafflano grind pictured above). Thankfully, I couldn’t have been more wrong. While a little stirring was necessary, this grind was otherwise perfect for the brewer. The filter did not get clogged and it resulted in a full-bodied brew with excellent mouth feel.
When I first saw the drip kettle I wasn’t sure whether to be amused. It’s…just a cup with a hole in it. How well could this actually work? Pretty damn well, it turns out. Even in an early-morning-pre-coffee state it’s quite easy to use the kettle to get a nice, even drip stream going. However, once I did pick up the full drip kettle with wet hands and ended up spilling just-off-the-boil water all over the countertop and myself, so a bit more grippiness would be nice on the thing.
Despite the fineness of the filter, the resulting brew does contain some sediment. This is only part of the reason that I recommend that you decant the final coffee out of the tumbler into another vessel before drinking. The other (and actual more important to me) reason is the stainless steel lip on the tumbler. I found it added an unpleasant metallic flavor/feeling when drinking directly from the tumbler. But as I always travel with an OXO Good Grips Travel Mug, decanting won’t be that big of a deal for me. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
Cleanup of the system is quite easy, assuming you have access to adequate running water and a sponge or some other wiping item. Perhaps it was the beans that I used, but I found that a simple rinse wasn’t enough to clean the filter and tumbler. A rinse plus a wipe with a sponge or paper towel, however, did quite well. I never did more cleanup than this the entire week of daily use.
Aside from the stainless steel tumbler lip and the lack of grippiness of the drip kettle, this is a great little system. I really enjoyed not only using it but–more importantly–drinking the coffee which it generated. Even with the coarse grind I was consistently getting quite good cups of coffee. The brew was, naturally, different from that I get from my Aeropress so I won’t compare them. Both are very good, just in their own special ways. My next conference is in June and I’m looking forward to taking my CK and giving it its first road test. I’ll be very happy to enjoy the coffee it creates and eschew that pitiful stuff offered in the hotel room.
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