April 14, 2012

Don't be such a Drip

Kopi Luwak pour-overs… hells no
When we first opened our doors in December we weren't sure how the Loo would react to us banishing traditional drip coffee and offering up something that takes a lot more time and a lot more effort to make as an alternative to our espresso. People still come in and ask what the heck a pour-over is; and we lovingly walk through the process so they can see for themselves what makes it so darn special. The fact that so many people haven't heard of this technique tells us that not many coffee shops are offering it in our area. (DVLB may be the only place in town currently offering this brewing method) Hopefully it'll catch on with other shops, but we suspect a big detractor is that it takes several minutes to brew a cup and is heavily reliant on a barista's skill. This is slow, slow, slow. So patience is a prerequisite.

Beware: your vision may be affected by one too many pour-overs
What the hell is this thing anyway? At first glance the pour-over may appear to be a 'mini' drip device, but it's far more involved than making drip coffee and produces a far more delicate brew (when done right). With traditional drip brewing you fill the coffee machine with water, it boils and the water is sprayed onto the coffee grounds. Gravity takes over and pulls the water through the grounds and into a carafe. You can't really mess this up because there's really no interaction in the extraction process. Simple. There's a device on the market called the Clever Coffee Dripper that looks a lot like a pour-over but it's brew method is similar to a french press in that it's a 'full-immersion' process: You put the grinds in, add all the water at once and brew. But don't be fooled, the results are not the same as the more involving pour-over method.

If you really want to expand your coffee tasting experience, the pour-over technique allows more control over the extraction which in turn makes a cleaner, rounder, and fruitier brew. It's multidimensional and works great (with great coffee). The biggest plus: that piercing and acidic bitterness you general get from regular drip coffees… gone. It's so smooth you won't believe you're drinking it straight! No more masking that black goddess with creams and sugars. If you're looking to cut your dairy, this is the way to do it.

uhh, Honey, maybe you should've gone with the black spacy outfit
The secret lies in how you pour the water over the grounds. There are a lot of videos online that will show you how to do it. Some use timers, some use scales, but we prefer to use our hearts *sigh*. First things first though: only grind the beans right before brewing. Nothing in our shop is pre-ground. That's a deadly sin in our world, as once you grind the beans, they'll go stale in about 5 minutes - this is a key step. (This is also one of the reasons we decided against drip coffee. We didn't feel right about serving some sludge that's been sitting on a heating plate for 30 mins.)

Once you've got your grounds in a filter, you'll punch a little divot in the center of the grounds and add a couple of table spoons worth of hot water in that divot. All you're trying to do here is wet the coffee. You aren't trying to extract yet. As the coffee reacts to the water, you'll see the 'bloom'. It's a fantastically geeky sight to watch the coffee rise like yeast. It's important to do this step and not just "dump n' drip". Remember, this is a ceremony, a sacrament, it's borderline cult-like but without the Kool-aid. And yes, it's little bit of a show, but that's ok. As long as we admit to the grandstanding, people will buy a ticket. We all know coffee isn't just a consumable, it's a ritual.

After the bloom, we'll hit the grinds with small bursts of hot water to get the extraction flowing. We never want to submerge the coffee fully in water, we want it to breathe. This allows the gases to escape and thus help reduce the tartness and bitterness that's common in drip and full-immersion coffee. After about 3 minutes you'll have a full cup ready to worship and reflect over. When you're done your first cup, don't be alarmed to find a bit of residue at the bottom. That's perfectly normal (also common with other brew methods like french press).
Recently with the early warm weather, we've been offering an iced pour-over in our mason jar glassware. The subtle and delicate notes work perfectly with a mug full of ice on a hot spring day. We're also rotating our single-origin pour-over coffees all the time. Our most popular is a Guatemalan, but we usually have at least 2 to choose from. This week is our first week offering a sweet little cherry from Burundi called: Kiryama.

If you're used to regular drip coffee waking you up like a punch in the face, you might appreciate the pour-over's kinder shake n' wake. It still packs the same amount of caffeine, but the flavour spectrums are much broader. Does take a little longer? Yes, but all the best things in life are worth waiting for… patience is (as they say) a virtue. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Love the pour-over and love your place! Just to clarify, Seven Shores, another awesome spot in Waterloo, also offers pour-over coffee--no whisky, though. :)