It seems a coffee drink is introduced daily, one with more whipped cream and syrup (and calories). But, the real news in coffee is a new appreciation of coffee pure and simple and the rediscovery of the manual drip method of brewing. Coffee cognoscenti have rechristened the technique as "the pour-over," and say there is no better way to make a cup of coffee.
The pour-over started showing up at independent coffee houses that wanted to provide a fresh, perfectly brewed single cup of coffee at any moment throughout the day. Preparation consists of a cone–lined with a filter and filled with ground coffee–sitting atop a coffee cup. Water is poured manually and slowly over the grounds and coffee drips into the cup below. A pour-over is made in front of the customer, often right at the table.
It is the latest coffee obsession, but the method dates back over 100 years when a German housewife named Melitta Bentz resolved to improve the taste of coffee, which at the time was a gritty, murky beverage, the result of putting grounds in a cloth bag and dangling it in hot water–the method of the day. She devised a paper filter, set it in a brass cup in which she had punched holes, and filled it with ground coffee. She then poured water over the grounds, and coffee–clean and clear–dripped into a drinking cup below. Melitta Bentz's improvement was so revolutionary she founded a company in 1908: Melitta, the world's first mega-brand in coffee. Long called the drip method, her way of making coffee is now dubbed "the pour-over," and it's all the buzz again.
Today's technique remains just as Melitta Bentz invented it. It's low-tech, utterly simple and guarantees a great tasting cup of coffee every time: fresh, clean and never overdone. There is no over-brewing or prolonged heating that breaks down coffee's intense flavors. Not only have top cafes added a pour-over to their menu, but Starbuck's announced it will be doing the same. Pour-over coffee bars are showing up in restaurants, like Maialino, the latest eatery of famed New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer. Even Ben & Jerry's has borrowed the name for a dessert featuring a shot of coffee poured over a shake-like concoction.
How to Make a Pour-Over
To properly make a pour over, water is poured over the grounds in a swirling motion. The grounds should not sit in water, and it takes about a minute to pour the water in and extract the coffee flavor. Water temperature should be just below boiling, say the coffee experts at Melitta. Also, pour-overs are universally made with extra-fine grind coffee, like those in the premium category, such as Melitta's own 100 percent Arabica Café Collection.
The method and the equipment are the same for commercial establishments and for home preparation. Melitta offers a single cup brewer called the Ready Set Joe, sold at grocery stores and www.melitta.com. Sales, according to Chris Hillman, Vice President of Marketing at Melitta USA, have recently taken off. "Coffee lovers now realize that one of the best ways of making coffee is also the easiest and least expensive," says Hillman. Ready Set Joe comes boxed with a filter cone, filters and mug, either a ceramic or travel version. Price is $5.99. Melitta also offers six-cup and ten-cup manual coffee makers utilizing the pour-over method.
For information on brewing coffee, visit the Brewing Tips section of www.melitta.com.