Oi, oi, oi, class in session *smacks ruler for silence*. If you're looking to advance your order in-store or at home, this next written disclosure may come in handy. If everything espresso doesn't satisfy your Mon-Sun curiosity in caffeination, there's an object for upheaval that invites a whole slew of opportunity when it comes to brewing coffee: the pour over.
You might see the pour over cropping up on various menus, sometimes taking up a whole song and dance of space, depending on the preference of those selling it to their fine customers. Preference plays a large part in it, as many looking to sell pour overs maintain an avid interest in spreading the word, the wisdom, the logos. They believe that if you like coffee, you'll love the pour over. But why? And first, can you please define the pour over? Okay.
The pour over is any method where you have a bed of coffee that you manually pour water over and it drips into a vessel. Simples.
Now for a lesson in history, both brief and breathtaking (well, the latter for those who really appreciate coffee - like Gregorys, of course, and we attempt to speak well for ourselves):
It all began with a housewife from Dresden by the name of Melitta Bentz. Mrs. Bentz--would Mr. Simpson please stop his guffawing at the back--Mrs. Bentz left behind quite the legacy. With ingenious perspicacity, she conjured the pour over and paper filter all at once. In 1908, Melitta got fed up with scraping the grinds off of the bottom of unfiltered coffee pots and wringing out used cloth coffee filters: S-T-ress. Searching for a solution, she ended up puncturing a brass pot with a nail, and then took a piece of blotting paper to use as a filter (blotting paper being paper used to wipe off excess ink from a quill). While the quill no longer enjoys the same commercial splendor as it did in 1908, the paper filter has gone from strength to strength: it not only produced a clean cup of coffee (compared to brewing in a pot on the stove, where grinds never got separated from the brew), it was incredibly easy to clean up: just toss it away (or better still, recycle). Melitta then went into business, designing pour over methods and paper filters--her brand is still incredibly popular to this day. The pour over method is even referred to as the Melitta method at times, though not too often (unless you want your coolness to confound).
Of course, things have advanced since Melitta's initial inquiry; there are a number of popular brewing methods for people to pick, choose and experiment with. Let's have a look at some of these, figure their differences, and then discern how these differences impact the output of flavor:
First off, we have the Bee House/Bonmac, so similar that they might make for some bee-musement and a très bon joke. Both are wedged shaped, both have grooves inlaid with which to guide the coffee, and both contain a rectangular flat bottom. The key difference: the Bee House has two small holes, while the Bonmac only has one. More holes = more ways for the coffee to fall through = coffee passing through at a faster rate.
There you have it: holes
The next suspect is the Kalita Wave, but is it as good as the name sounds cool? The Kalita has a flat, rounded bottom, similar to a Fetco basket (which you can observe atop our batch brewers). This method has not one, not two, but three holes for the coffee to pass through. It also seeks differentiation through its smooth and perfectly round sides (unlike the B-Brothers above) and use of rather specific accordion - or wavy - filters that are designed to stand away from the brewers wall. According to the prima-coffee blog, these wavy filters lead to improved temperature stability (essential in a measured extraction) by insulating with air rather than the material of the dripper itself - however, this is debatable: you would think a pre-heated brewing device would be better than just having air flow in between the wall and the filter. Still, it's a debate worth plying over for those interested in adjusting their brewing method and discovering their own brand of delight.
Next is the V60, which you'll find being sold on the shelves in our stores. This model has one big hole with ridges, allowing coffee to pass through at a quicker rate than the B-Boys; the ridges are similar to these two, but the V60's rounded shape differs from the wedged shape of the former. The V60 uses very thin paper filters; the previous prima-coffee blog stakes the claim that this leads to minimal paper taste (desirable), and so our very own P.I. Denman (Darren Denman - the Education Assistant) followed the paper trail to some of his own conclusions: he found that quite the opposite was true; that the next suspect, the Chemex with its thicker filters, had a much more indistinguishable paper-presence in the end result. His hypothesis was that the Chemex filters were sturdier with thickness, lending themselves to less--for want of a better word--seepage. Either way, it's generally accepted that pre-rinsing paper filters almost completely eliminates any paper-tasting residue; Denman gave this a go, but could not contest the evidence - pre-rinsing the paper filters made for a damn fine cup of coffee. Back to thickness/thinness of filters: a thin filter allows for the coffee to pass through quicker, but we'll come to the effects of that momentarily.
Got V60 'der
Last but certainly not least for us Gregorians, it's the Chemex. This fellow has a conical, smooth surface along the walls, for the most part. This dunce-cap cone is given a clever gap at one point for the coffee to make its way to the spout once brewed. This, however, leads to a slight lack of support for the filter on that side. Solution: The Chemex filter is to be folded in such a way that one of the sides is to have three layers. Guess which layer you're to put against the spout side. Besides this feature, there's one big hole and no ridges; like the V60, the hole is going to account for a faster outflow of coffee; unlike the V60, a thicker paper filter counteracts the motions of one big hole by slowing the pouring process down a notch. Why such a curious butting of heads? Is this how you achieve equanimity - that is to say, ascend to Heaven (insofar as coffee can assist)? There are only questions in this regard: maybe they wanted a cleaner body from a thicker filter; maybe the design merely demanded such compensation. We can't question the results: The results are good.
Overlooking the demense...
But which is best?
Well, first there's the factor of the holes that grant the coffee passage through the pour over. As we've hinted towards already, bigger holes (or more holes) allow for coffee to pass through quicker, while the smaller holes (or hole) mean that the water is in contact with the coffee for a longer period - some argue, or consider, that this longer brew-time accounts for a better taste.
There're also the paper filters effecting a faster/slower brew. While some argue that a thicker filter might hinder flavor with a papery residue - and some, namely Darren, argue staunchly to the otherwise - there is also the factor that perhaps the thicker paper filter leads to a cleaner cup, as it will be that much harder for oils and sediments to pass through. Anyhow, we can all allay our passions slightly, knowing that by pre-rinsing the paper filter, almost all thoughts of paper are out the window as they're dispensed into the trash.
Besides this, there's the shape of the brewer. But we can't go touting shapes too much: what's best is what's best for you. A Chemex aficionado thinking of changing up his game for a bit should not feel the slightest guilt over his wish to experiment; the Chemex shall be there forevermore, and it's worthwhile, even responsible, to check out how the other brewing methods fair. All these brewers are slightly yet markedly different, revealing flavors hitherto undiscovered or unappreciated. Trying is its own reward. Life's not about the destination, maaaaan, it's about the journey.
While you can dither over multiple methods when it comes to a good cup, we do recommend some moderation in the process. These brew methods are, of course, affected by the coarseness of the grinder, the temperature of the water, the recipe of coffee and water, and a whole bouquet-full of other factors. It's well worth monitoring these factors while testing different brewers, so that you can more keenly discern what the design does to alter flavor.
Why, you might ask, are we going to such lengths to give you a run-down of these brewing methods. Doesn't Gregorys staple its name to the Aeropress, raising it to the heavens like their very own Simba? Doesn't the Chemex only break out of its box in-store so as to deliver some free samples and get people interested in the single origins (made over at the Aeropress Bar)? Well, yes. We use the Chemex to exhibit the exciting possibilities in the coffees we've got in stock - the delightful single origins - because it can be used to make bigger batches; if we see some gap in the line of customers, we will break it out in order to invigorate interest and pass it on to those lucky customers soon to enter. We also use the Chemex, as we find it to be the closest iteration to our trusty Aeropress, producing coffee of similar clarity and lightness of body (mouth feel).
But why the Aeropress? Every Gregorys employee knows full well why. Gregorys Coffee, as its currently conceived, traffics in traffic; we grew up in Manhattan and face a fairly busy day-to-day. With the pace of things, it's much harder to ensure consistency when relying on a pour over - they take time, and risk being overrun by an ever-fluctuating line of drinks; we can only afford to make them at certain times/gaps in the day. While we like to have the Chemex brewing (with our steady focus) for three to three and a half minutes, we have the Aeropress done and dusted in two. The Aeropress also offers consistency by way of the fact that if you follow the recipe, you'll get great-tasting coffee every time; faltering or over-dipping on a Chemex/V60/etc. for a moment can affect the overall profile and potentially ruin the batch. So there you have it: the Aeropress is not only reliable and consistent, but also beyond awesome in output of flavor. Sounds strange, but only because the world's a cruel mistress and scarcely admits such a compound of inviting adjectives.
So there you have it: a bunch of brewing methods to fawn over, try in-store or take back home. While you can find us (Aero)pressin' all day long, you can also find the Chemex at a conducive hour, and many a brewing method on the shelves in our store. Our baristas are more than happy to flash their wisdom if you should so choose to ask; many have V-60s, Bee house/Bonmacs, the Chemex and faithful Aeropress stowed away for personal experiments, and they would gladly impart their impressions to those with an interest.