Brew Bars – The problem with Pourovers

“I guess it’s a lot like a home baker with a crappy 70’s electric oven full of hot spots and quirks trying to make a great loaf. ” – did you find yourself in this definition?

colonnaandsmalls

Brew bars are becoming an integral part of speciality coffee shops.  It’s a great way to experience the variety and quality from farm to farm, roaster and brew method.  I don’t think there should be a battle between espresso and filter; they can provide us with two exceptional ways of experiencing coffee.  I often note how shocked customers are at the polemic between the two beverages.

This post is less about the worth of a brew bar and more about the functioning of one.

We have been working with brewed coffee at a commercial and professional level for around two years now, but mostly in the new shop (open now for 8 months) with a dedicated brew bar.  Like many, I got into coffee originally through espresso and then discovered the possibilities of filters later.

We have used and explored just about every method available.  Through this I have realised…

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5 comments
  1. Interesting read and perspective from a professional and commercial standpoint. It raises a question in my mind: why do pourovers typically use a declining surface area (ie. cone, V60) for brewing? Why not an even bed of grinds and a shower-head for even distribution of water (much like espresso actually). Something to experiment!

    Where pourovers are concerned, I actually love them for their consistency. Maybe my technique and equipment are not the most refined, but at least the results are consistent! I find it hard to screw up a pourover unless I over-extract. Brew recipes and grind probably need to be adjusted for different roast levels.

    Anyhow I think it is much easier to get a good cup than to pull a good shot. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Usually the declining surface area is used for better turbulence during the brewing process. Turbulence allows a consistent flow of water through the coffee grounds, which if it’s missing leads to uneven extraction. For example channeling – I’m sure you know about channeling in espresso extraction, there channeling happens despite the pressure the coffee bed is put under. Can you imagine what will happen if there is not pressure and the water is just poured onto the coffee bed? Gigantic channel? I don’t know, that’s what I imagine 😀
      The water flow also has to be restricted, done by the exit spout of the brew basket usually. It allows only a small amount of water to pass through at a time leaving the ground coffee in constant suspension with the water. That’s why the basket cannot be horizontal, the extraction will be very very funny then.

      Well, I don’t know how much you’ve dug into coffee brewing, but I still haven’t mastered pourovers. There is so much more for me to discover and to understand there, it’s daunting! Yes, the recipes and the grind should be adjusted very often, here even the roasting date of the coffee matters, cause it also effects the water flow.

      Yes, maybe you’re right, but to brew a good cup seems a lot cheaper 😀

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  2. Elena, good point about the channelling! You saved me a great deal of time and trouble. I was already imagining how to adapt my double basket for a brew experiment 🙂

    Funny you mentioned turbulence. I just read your comment and earlier today I saw a blog post by Trifecta that related turbulence in their machine to extraction of flavours as represented on the SCAA flavour wheel. It had to do with molecular weight. Interesting, interesting…

    I wouldn’t say my pourover technique is great, just that pourovers produce such a nice cup it’s easy to be satisfied with the results. Unless you are a professional, or anal, or both! I have weaknesses in my technique, not least the opening pour (after blooming) which I am sure is producing channelling. Currently I am less concerned with time and volume, but am learning to read the bubbles (how fast they rise, colour, density) to understand if my coffee ‘cake’ is extracting evenly and to decide on the end of brewing. I weighed the last couple of brews and the volume by weight was not far off (going by SCAA ratio of 8g to 100ml).

    What is your preferred brew method by the way?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, definitely pourovers make great brews…it might be easy to be satisfied with the results unless you’re a perfectionist. Which can also turn into unhealthy thing but oh well… 😀 I like the direction of your experiments, so keep going and blogging about it!

      Currently I’m in a serious relationship with the aeropress. What about you? How are your feelings toward filter coffee ? 😀

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      • As a coffee drinker I am definitely satisfied with it! But the perfectionist in me is pushing me to continue learning 🙂 I decided to stick to one method of brewing until I am competent at it before or trying another. I just ordered a syphon, and an Aeropress will be next after!

        I want to understand immersion vs filter brewing, to the point I can tell instinctively which method should work best for new coffees. That’s the goal anyway!

        Like

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