onocoffee Senior Member Joined: 5 Sep 2002 Posts: 733 Location: Towson, Maryland Expertise: Just starting
Espresso: La Marzocco Linea 2AV, 3AV &... Grinder: 4 Mazzer Major Autos, Compak... Vac Pot: That crazy Bodum eSantos Drip: Bunn CWT Twin, Bunn Water... Roaster: Petroncini The Crumb
Posted Mon Feb 13, 2012, 7:36am Subject: Re: "Third Wave" cafés and the pour over revolution: The emperor has no clothes.
The emergence of pour over as a dominant approach to brewing in the "cool 3W cafes" was a direct result of Clover being sold to Starbucks. Prior to that, the Clover (or automated coffee brewer) was the domain of the 3W. Selling to Starbucks was akin to "selling out" and angered not only their installed customer base but the cool and hip 3W crowd. I had the opportunity to brew with the device over the years and was never terribly impressed. Much of the flavor people were extracting out of the Clover was due to overdosing of the coffee in an effort to compensate for the rapid brew time and low extraction yield. I'm sure someone more obsessed than I will rush out to find a Clover and hit it with their Extract Mojo.
Once Starbucks purchased the company, at a very handsome profit to its owners and investors, the company took the product private. Today, the Clover exists only in the form of its existing, installed base of machines, and a very limited supply of spare parts. It is a doomed machine for the non-Starbucks operator. And to those who think that a Clover operation is "faster" just isn't aware of the realities of operations. A basic Clover brew takes about 90 seconds. Add about another 90 for proper cleaning and rinsing between brews, along with prepping the coffee and the "speed" difference is minor. Any shop serious about Clover operates more than one because that's the only way to stack orders - and at an MSRP of $11K, plus counter, electric and plumbing space and multiple units gets expensive very quickly - which is a must if you want to have any hope of offering coffee within a reasonable amount of wait time.
Of course, many of these Clover shops will augment their offerings with a batch brewed coffee "for the rush", which, in my opinion, you might as well go back to batch brew.
In many respects, I agree with a bit that's been said here. Many shops use pour over brewing, in the form of the Hario V60, with less than exciting results. One of the biggest problems (from my perspective), which is also the greatest advantage (to most baristas perspective) is the very large orifice in the V60. This allows for very fast flow rates should one choose to "Run and Gun" their coffee. Even with a ratio of 2grams per ounce of coffee and the proper grind, it is possible (and easy) to power the brew down to two minutes (even less).
What this means is that an undisciplined barista can easily be pressured into fast brewing your coffee, depending on the existing shop conditions for that day. In this case, the result can be much worse than a properly programmed Fetco Extractor. Some shops compensate for this speed by overdosing the coffee - much like the Clover approach. What they're doing is not improving the brew but rather increasing the solids yield for the short brew time.
Other brew methods, such as French Press, Eva Solo and even the Abid Clever, require specific brew times that are not easily rushed. Of course, as an operator, the constant battle (that is, if you're the kind of operator that cares about this) is working with your baristas to ensure that they are sufficiently trained, efficient and confident that the pressures of a long line and growing list of tickets does not result in hastened pour over brewing. In that vein, alternative devices like the Beehouse dripper are excellent choices because their smaller orifices slow down the brew, making it difficult for the undisciplined barista to rush the brew.
Of course, all cool 3W baristas shun anything that would slow their roll and stick with the V60.
Is this Pourover Revolution a passing fad? Perhaps. Only time will tell. What is happening though is the ability to offer a wider range of coffees to the guest and have them all freshly prepared, as opposed to standing around for an unspecified time in an airpot. By the cup brewing allows operators offer better quality, reducing waste and at a proper price point - because offering the Hacienda La Esmeralda for $2 out of an airpot is no way to operate a coffeehouse and will result in financial problems down the road.
Just once? And with that comes a ringing endorsement?
I've had several cups from Clovers, and while some have been outstanding, others were somewhat lacking -- good, but not necessarily great. But in reality, one also must take into account that a) I wasn't tasting "Cup X" from a Clover side-by-side with "Cup Y" -- the same coffee made as a pourover -- in a blind taste test; and b) my expectations may have colored my opinion.
But as with espresso, generally any fault lies with the "fourth M."
Well, done at the same shop, same time, same barista, same excellent Kenya coffee, and with a friend who agreed with my assessment. Clover v Chemex; though "by a nose" is hardly a ringing endorsement. And the Clover's control v pour-over's barista's skill wins by an indisputable fact.
Posted Mon Feb 13, 2012, 1:54pm Subject: Re: "Third Wave" cafés and the pour over revolution: The emperor has no clothes.
Well, I'm pleased with all the discussion my post has generated. Thanks, folks! :)
Yes, I know that with any craft there is going to be some inconsistency no matter how high the quality. I've watched some very talented baristas (baristi?) pull the occasional dud shot. The thing is, they didn't serve it to me; they dumped it and pulled another. This aspect of quality control doesn't easily translate into pour over because a) it takes an additional ~4 minutes to brew another cup rather than 30 seconds, and b) filter brewed coffee doesn't have the same obvious visual cues to indicate a bad cup that espresso has (thin pale crema, early blonding, etc.). So, with espresso a barista can tell just by looking that a shot will (probably) be good. Not so with pour over. I would assume that a good barista will be tasting shots throughout the day to assess if the grind or dose needs to be tweaked. I wonder how many are tasting the pour over they brew?
Of course, occasionally I have been served an espresso that I would not have considered up to par given the quality standards of the café. I am careful to avoid those baristas on future visits.
In a Clover or a Trifecta, correct me if I am wrong, it takes time and materials to figure out what the exact settings are for that particular coffee for the machine to produce the best possible cup. And if you are serving more than 1 varietal at a time, you have to change the settings each time.
Is pour over more forgiving if you are patient and good at it? I would say so. Or maybe, overall, I have just been lucky. I find it brings out more of the unique qualities in a coffee. Maybe that's just my personal taste.
I disagree entirely. Yes, to get the most out of the Clover (and, I assume, Trifecta) the roaster and head barista need to spend some time together finding the ideal brewing parameters for each coffee that is going to be served. But, why would we assume that one generic pour over technique is going to be suitable for every single origin? When I pick up a bag of a coffee I haven't yet brewed, usually the first half of the bag (at least) is spent experimenting with different pouring times, kettle temperatures, grinds, stirring vs. not stirring, draw-down times, overall brew times... (Anything I'm missing?? :P) So, the cost and time required to maximize the potential of any given coffee is likely more with pour over than Clover because not only do you need to take the time to FIND those brewing parameters but you also need to ensure that all the baristas have both the knowledge to understand how different variables affect results and sufficient practice to be able to adjust their technique according to what the roaster and head-barista have found works best for the different coffees (and keep their technique the same brew after brew, with maybe at most a ~5 second margin of error in terms of brew time).
I'd much rather see only ONE coffee offered on pour over on any given day (better yet, for a few days at a time) knowing that every effort has been made to find the correct parameters for that coffee, rather than a barista talk me through the differences between the 3 or 4 choices on the menu only to have the coffee I select not live up to its potential because it was brewed haphazardly with a one-size-fits-all technique.
Also, I should reiterate: as a concept, I am MUCH more interested in coffee as an artisanal craft rather than what can be produced by machine. However, that craft needs to translate to quality in the cup or it's all just pomp and circumstance. This is why, like I said before, I think manual brew methods (pour over, siphon, what have you) should be treated as a special offering during slower times of the day; a way for a barista to provide an individualized and unique experience to a customer who's enthusiastic about coffee. ("Hey, have you tried the Costa Rica Santa Lucia? We've been playing around with it on the Chemex for the past dew days and have been getting some pretty interesting results. Do you have time to stick around and try a cup?")
While it's certainly understandable - and by that I mean, I can conceive of the reasons contributing to the outcome - that a cafe would serve bad coffee periodically, I don't know if that's a great excuse. If your output quality depends on how busy you are, you may have bad priorities. Chances are that if your customers really care whatever benefit a pour-over affords, they're willing to wait for it to be done right. If you rush it, it undermines the entire concept. In that sense, it's an existential dilemma (and I mean that in the literal sense). I hope I stated that fairly - that's essentially my biggest complaint with this "movement".
I can answer the last two questions. Second, yes, in a small number of shops. Third, the latter. I was overcome by curiosity when I stumbled upon a *$ with a Clover. I should note that I've had the pleasure of trying Clover-brewed coffee at a few good places, and to me it's the best brewing method there is, but it just brings out all the negative qualities of Sbux's massive overroast.
Posted Mon Feb 13, 2012, 7:46pm Subject: Re: "Third Wave" cafés and the pour over revolution: The emperor has no clothes.
Much of the flavor people were extracting out of the Clover was due to overdosing of the coffee in an effort to compensate for the rapid brew time and low extraction yield. I'm sure someone more obsessed than I will rush out to find a Clover and hit it with their Extract Mojo.
Posted Tue Feb 14, 2012, 6:21am Subject: Re: "Third Wave" cafés and the pour over revolution: The emperor has no clothes.
Even in brewed coffee, there's no fixing the fourth M with the third. I don't care what device you come up with, somebody, somewhere will find away to do it wrong for the sake of saving time, money, or - well, who knows what motivates people toward bad coffee. I never understood it.
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 5,642 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Veneziano A1 Grinder: Many different commercial Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Milita, Bunn&Curtis... Roaster: Cast iron pan, gas burner
Posted Wed Feb 15, 2012, 7:45am Subject: Re: "Third Wave" cafés and the pour over revolution: The emperor has no clothes.
I must admit I only skimmed the longer posts but I agree with the idea that the clovers were sold off from a lot of shops simply due to the fact of who now owns the manufacturing rights and the lack of parts that will be in the pipe line to fix them. They sold them while there were still parts available and thus the machines were worth a bit more than they would have been after there was no more support for them.
I have had coffee from a clover at Klatch and it was very good, in fact it was my fav way to have brewed coffee there. They sold it.
I have had coffee from the Bunn Trifecta and it was very good to, so I guess my cup was different than others in this thread. I am looking to the trifecta to be taking over the spot of the clover in the shops that care to use them. Nothing wrong with pourover either, I have had some great coffee from that method.
Sorry if I just restated anything above.
In real life, my name is Wayne P.
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
Symbols: = New Posts since your last visit = No New Posts since last visit = Newest post
Forum Rules: No profanity, illegal acts or personal attacks will be tolerated in these discussion boards. No commercial posting of any nature will be tolerated; only private sales by private individuals, in the "Buy and Sell" forum. No cross posting allowed - do not post your topic to more than one forum, nor repost a topic to the same forum. Who Can Read The Forum? Anyone can read posts in these discussion boards. Who Can Post New Topics? Any registered CoffeeGeek member can post new topics. Who Can Post Replies? Any registered CoffeeGeek member can post replies. Can Photos be posted? Anyone can post photos in their new topics or replies. Who can change or delete posts? Any CoffeeGeek member can edit their own posts. Only moderators can delete posts. Probationary Period: If you are a new signup for CoffeeGeek, you cannot promote, endorse, criticise or otherwise post an unsolicited endorsement for any company, product or service in your first five postings.