Friday, August 14, 2009

Pouting Over PourOver

Flight of the Beehouse at Spro.

There's a whole cabal out there that thinks I'm some sort of hot aired, blowhard stalwart and while I won't say that they're 100 percent wrong, I do, from time to time, rethink my stance and make a course change.

I'm a fallible human with my own set of whacked preferences. I like grass fed steaks, younger women and I really haven't been paying attention to decaf coffee. Decaf coffee really has been like that scratch in the middle of your back that you just can't reach - an irritation that must be dealt with. At The Spro, we might serve four decaf coffees in a day. FOUR, I'm not kidding.

Because of this, it really hasn't been a high priority for me, even though it's probably the one coffee that we're losing the most money on. Pots of decaf are brewed only to be thrown away. It's the ultimate in waste and it's time to stop.

Okay, I'll be honest. The diaphragm on the decaf airpot finally broke and since I'm too cheap to replace it, it was time to make a change...

Drip, dripping away.

Readers of this blog will know that I haven't been the biggest fan of pourovers, mainly because I think all the hoopla about it being the "next thing" is just lame bullshit - especially since those cats at Royal Coffee in Berkeley had been doing it for years when Dismas Smith, Sandy Hon and myself stopped there in January 2005 for a cup. But there's a new enthusiasm for pourover, as well as some new consciousness about it and some new engineering.

Mark Inman, guru of Taylor Maid Farms in Sebastopol, California has come out with the Tru Bru pourover system with Beehouse porcelain filter holders from Japan and made out of stainless steel. There are other makes on the market but they're tall an ugly. At least the Tru Bru is low-profile and rather handsome to boot. But the real selling point for me is that they make a two cup model, not just the four cup model that I see everywhere else and is a monster on your counter.

For a program like ours where pourover is not our primary brewing method, the two cup model fits the bill just right.

Brew samples and the french press control (second from left).

So I mock others and their pourovers only to find a really concentrated level of attention to get a nice brew out of the thing. I'm surprised to find that there really is a lot more to pourover than simply pouring the hot water over the coffee. Timing of the water stream is critical. If you dump it in and let it flow, it flows too fast and you get underextracted coffee.

We're just beginning our exploration with pourover, but the initial parameters we are starting from are as follows:

8z cup - 16 grams coffee
12z cup - 24 grams coffee
16z cup - 32 grams coffee

I've been playing around with the circle in the center pouring technique that Aaron Ultimo showed me and we're getting interesting results. So far, the coffee has been nice but lacking the qualities that I love in a French Pressed coffee, namely that rich body. We're getting similar flavor notes from the pourover but that body and complexity of pressed coffee is missing, but I think that's just part of the game.

If you come by The Spro in the coming weeks, you'll find the pourover working its' way into our lineup.