Pour-Over Coffee Service Continues to Grow in Popularity
Arguably, one of the hottest coffee shop trends of the past few years is the pour-over method, a slower process that replaces the traditional drip with a simple setup that produces a richer flavor and fresher cup of coffee. This trend has grown in popularity all across the US, and several Columbus shops have already gotten on board.
“Serving pour-over coffee — or any manual brew, for that matter — allows a barista to control all of the variables that go into the production of a cup of coffee,” says Dave Forman, co-founder of One Line Coffee, a newer Short North shop that specializes in single service techniques. “This means that we can dial in a coffee to much tighter specifications than we may be able to do otherwise.”
Forman admits that part of the customer appeal of pour-over service is that the technique “looks cool”, somewhere in between a science lab experiment and and a retro-styled experience that can appeal to those looking for something new and different.
“The cool factor isn’t really why we brew with pour-overs, but I think it’s a major reason for a lot of shops,” says Forman. “It does convey to people that they’re getting a cup of coffee that was hand-produced, and a cup on which a barista actually focused their time and efforts, so that’s good.”
Andy Luck, co-founder of Luck Bros’ Coffee House in Grandview has been experimenting with pour-over coffee techniques for years. He regularly tests different types of ceramic funnels, kettles, water boilers and grinders to continually improve his process.
“As we honed our technique and upgraded our equipment, my customers would keep me informed of the single cup brewing methods that were showing up in Columbus,” he explains. “A Clover system here, a Chemex there, French Press, and even a Vac-pot can be found in town. It seems like only yesterday I was the only shop offering pour-over service or brew to order coffee.”
Luck and Forman both agree that one of the benefits of pour-over service is that more expensive coffees can be sold through single cup servings rather than traditional drip preparation, which can be good for business. And the more knowledgable their customers become on these options, the more likely they are to prefer a higher quality coffee prepared in a single serving fashion.
Cafe Brioso is another local shop hip to the trend, as they have been serving pour-over coffee since 2007. The staff there has also noticed a growth in their customer base asking for it.
“Pour-over sales grew slowly for years,” says John ‘JJ’ Justice, Operations Manager at Brioso. “In the past 18 months we’ve seen a big spike in interest, and it’s become especially popular just in the past six months.”
Surprisingly, few pour-over coffee drinkers take issue with the longer preparation time, which can take between three and four minutes. The local coffee shops owners we talked with all said that they utilize the extra time to chat with their customers, provide them with education and information on their products and engage them in other meaningful ways.
“The feedback has been great, but it is not for everyone,” says Luck. “Honestly, if you don’t like black coffee, don’t try it. Sometimes people are curious about the brew to order coffees and want to try it out, so I ask them if they take cream and sugar, and if they do I encourage them to have a vanilla latte instead.”
From March 17th to March 23rd, Columbus Underground is celebrating Coffee Week! Throughout the week, we’ll be taking a look at various coffee shops, roasters, brands, businesses and the people that contribute to this rapidly growing local movement. Coffee Week 2013 is sponsored by Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea, providing handcrafted coffee to Columbus, OH since 1991. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter for more information.