Pour-over. For more than a few years now, the pour-over has been king of specialty coffee shops and home brewing connoisseurs, while batch-brewed coffee makers have been overlooked or even completely forgotten. However, it now seems that the new trend for 2018 is a comeback for the lowly coffee maker. Read on to learn more.
For nearly a decade, the purposely slow art of the pour-over (making coffee by the cup) has been an essential skill for any gourmet barista and a ubiquitous ritual of the artisanal coffee movement. Notwithstanding this trend, in this age of efficiency and consistency many gourmet coffee shops are dusting off their large-batch coffee makers and embracing their perks. While many sophisticated coffee connoisseurs would sooner choke than give up their pour-over, the truth is that the bulk of coffee consumers simply aren’t willing to wait five minutes or more for their coffee anymore.
While there will always be pour over purists who don’t mind waiting a few more minutes in order to get the absolute freshest cup of Joe, the truth of the matter is the switch back to automatic large–batch coffee machines is all about economics - while one barista can put out about 9 pour-overs per hour, a large batch coffee machine can produce more than 10 times that in the same amount of time and, as they say, time is money.
“Every industry is facing the threat of automation,” said Matt Perger, a winner of the World Brewers Cup, a handcrafted filter coffee brewing competition. What baristas should focus on now are the “parts of their job that a machine can’t yet do,” such as educating customers about coffee, he said.
The history of the pour over can be traced back to German coffee company, Melitta Bentz GmbH & Co. KG, which developed the paper coffee filter and created drip coffee in the early 1900’s. Independent and small chain coffee shops started offering pour-overs around 2008 as a form of rebellion to traditional commercial coffee chains.
The individual cup practice - by promising higher quality coffee and craft - flourished with the explosion of the specialty coffee market, which perpetuated the romantic notion that something handmade is automatically better. Perhaps ironically, however, the pour-over has proven this to not be true - pour-overs vary from barista to barista and even from one pour to the next, meaning there is plenty of inconsistency. Machines, on the other hand, offer consistency and uniformity.
To counteract the inherent inconsistency of pour-overs, new contraptions have been designed to produce pour-overs automatically. These automated pour-over machines are sufficiently sophisticated such that a barista can set the machine to produce a cup of coffee exactly as they would by controlling the rate of the pour and brewing temperature. Although the machines take just as long to brew a cup as a handmade pour-over, they free up baristas during the percolation process.
Stumptown, the Oregon-based company, has moved over to an automatic pour-over brewing system and has increased its pour-over sales while still offering traditional barista prepared pour-overs for the purists, and quick and easy large batch brewed coffee for those on the run. In the fast-paced world of today there will always be those who turn to traditional barista prepared pour-overs simply as a means of slowing things down and being present in the moment. Purists may always prefer this method to automation despite the inherent inconsistencies resulting from the human factor, but isn’t it great to know that we all have options between automated, human prepared, large batch or an individual pour-over? Have your pick! At least, for now, the coffee world is still one’s oyster.