Pour-over coffee was practically unheard of in North America until the 1980s when the Melitta filter brewing method became fairly mainstream.
Still, until very recently, most coffee drinkers opted for the speed and convenience of the ubiquitous countertop drip machines – for many a groggy java hound, it's speed and automation that wins the day. But as with so many trendy DIY projects, brewing a perfect cup has taken on a new gravitas, and with this serious new attitude, come seriously fancy new gadgets.
Coffee roaster David Pritchard, of Toronto-based Birds & Beans Coffee says the pour-over method is the best way to extract the most from coffee's over 800 aromatic compounds, while leaving behind what you don't want in the cup. It works because the grounds can be agitated, unlocking air pockets and allowing the water to circulate fully around every tiny coffee ground. And very importantly, it doesn't get hot enough to cook the coffee's oils. As for the final product, he says the goal is rich, deep, layered flavour, with no unpleasant bitterness, and no chemical- or off-flavours.
Pour-over aficionados have their pick of premium systems, from the super-sexy Chemex, the elegant Hario from Japan, and now, the Canadiano, from Toronto architect and designer Mani Mani of Fishtnk Design Factory. Each of Mani's filters is hand-crafted from locally sourced maple, walnut, cherry, birch or white oak, and available finished – polished and sealed with walnut oil – or raw. The replaceable, inverted cone is constructed of surgical-grade stainless steel, with perforations big enough to allow a brisk flow, as well as a little sediment through.
We tried out the finished, cherry version, and after seasoning as instructed, we brewed a cup of fair trade, bird-friendly java. The water didn't pool for too long, flowing through the grinds fast enough to avoid drawing out any bitterness and slow enough to bring out flavour. And just as the information sheet stated it would, the coffee truly did pick up a subtle and quite lovely nuttiness from the wood.
$45 to $75, from canadiano.co
Each Canadiano takes about two weeks to make, and prices vary depending on the wood.