Pour-over brewing is nothing new. In the mid 20th century the Chemex brewer graced kitchens across the United States and beyond with its modern aesthetic and for decades all manner of pour-over drippers have been mainstays in specialty cafes; from the Hario V60 to Kalita Wave to, seemingly a new iteration utilizing and – allegedly – improving upon the same basic principles hitting the scene each year.
For home baristas the menagerie of contraptions can be a fun way to dig deeper down the rabbit hole of specialty coffee but for cafes, the question remains: is it worth it?
Let us turn to the age-old method of determining this quandary: pros vs. cons.
Theater – Probably the biggest benefit of offering pour-overs in a café is the inherent spectacle. For consumers who exist outside of the realm of specialty coffee esoterica, simply seeing a barista painstakingly pouring water over the coffee in the dripper is a marketing campaign for that product. Even for those who have had them before there is often an association with higher-quality due over machine-brewed coffee due to the added “craft” element.
Variety – Brewing by the cup can enable a café to offer a greater variety of filtered coffees at a single time. When using batch-brewers that often struggle to brew less than half a gallon at a reasonable level of quality, brewing pots of several different coffees at a time simply doesn’t make sense for the vast majority of cafes, as much of the coffee, aka café dollars, will just end up going down the drain if not ordered. Single-serving brews can enable a café to brew their staple offering in large batches and offer additional coffees to order.
Customization – Compared to some, mostly older, automated coffee brewers, pour-over brewing can be more customizable. You can set your temperature to the exact temperature you want. You can pour in whatever increments you desire. There is no programming involved in manipulating these variables as you see fit. This can slightly improve the ease of “dialing in” the coffees
Inconsistency – Let’s face it, automated brewers, like most machines, tend to be better in at least one area than their human counterparts: repeating the same task consistently time and time again. Even the best baristas make mistakes. They have bad days. They get distracted. They get busy. A machine, geared towards one task and free from the occupational and emotional distractions so often plaguing sentient beings, know nothing but the task at hand. Unless you’re much luckier than us, you’ve likely had an underwhelming pour-over in even one of the highest-end specialty cafes before (admittedly, this could be true of a batch-brew as well, though ultimately that would fall on the baristas charged with dialing in the coffee).
Training – Handmade pour-overs add one additional layer of complexity to onboarding and training new baristas. What is the correct pattern to pour in? How many grams of water for each pulse? How exact does the final water volume need to be? Is there a difference recipe for each coffee? There are a myriad of things to consider when brewing a pour-over that, once set for a recipe, barely need to be considered when pressing the “brew” button on an automated brewer, allowing managers and operators to focus more energy on training their staff to pull great shots and provide excellent hospitality.
Labor – We saved the best for last. Brewing a pour-over is quite an all-consuming endeavor. You better have your eyes on the scale. You better have your eyes on the timer. You better not venture too far from your brewing station. Don’t let that customer distract you. During high-volume periods brewing pour-overs manually in a café essentially requires an extra set of barista boots on the ground as, once engaged, this person can hardly spare attention for any other tasks. We’ve observed many coffee programs and spoke with plenty of operators and with few exceptions, the consensus is fairly clear – brewing pour-overs in a high-volume coffee shop is all but impossible.
So maybe the “cons” make sense but the “pros” are still enticing you. Is there a solution?
Why, we’re glad you asked.
Let us introduce you to the Wilbur Curtis Gold Cup Brewer, an automatic single-serve brewer that, aside from brewing excellent scups – one at a time - with its own, unique filter basket, is even compatible with most of your favorite pour-over drippers.
Kalita Wave? Check.
How does it work?
The Gold Cup brewer allows users to create highly customizable recipes via an intuitive digital interface. Variables like temperature, number of pulses, the quantity of water dispensed during these pulses, and the amount of time between them, are easily programmed and multiple recipes, unique to different coffee offerings, can be programmed and saved, allowing for a pour-over menu offering a variety of coffees all available with the push of a button. It will even pre-rinse your filter.
Aside from just creating consistent cups of coffee, these machines enable baristas to simply grind the coffee, dump it in the filter, and then get back to focusing on the customer, back to pulling shots, back to stamping sleeves, whatever else may be needed at the moment in a busy café.
Swap the filter basket out for a range server with a V60 perched atop of it and you scarcely even lose the visual element that drives the curiosity of many consumers toward wanting to order these coffees.
Labor = Saved.
Consistency = Improved.
Perception of Value = Retained.
Hospitality = Enhanced.
Not only are these brewers a great addition behind the bar in specialty cafes, they’re great for restaurants and even office settings. In fact, while the classic CGC model features two brew-heads capable of simultaneously brewing single-serving cups, the subsequent CGC1 model, featuring one brew-head, is capable of brewing a single-serving up to a half-gallon batch, making it perfect for an office setting.
As with most things in coffee, the proof will speak to your pallet. If you have any doubts that these automated pour-over brewers can get the job done, drop us a line and we will tell you where you can go to see for yourself.
Or just take our word for it: they’re kllr.