The Starbucks Pour Over: Guest article by Nick (a Starbucks partner).
Introducing a guest article on the Starbucks pour over: Nick is a four year Starbucks partner in Mississippi. He’s also the author of his own blog about coffee and Starbucks: CoffeeSlang.com. Here’s his article:
On December 5th, 2014, Starbucks ventured out and opened its first ‘third wave’ coffee shop called the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in none other than Seattle, Washington. As a barista, I have to say this made me quite giddy. For me, as a barista who is truly passionate about coffee, it meant that Starbucks hasn’t totally forgotten its roots by making Frappuccinos and pastries its first priority while pushing coffee to the wayside. As we are all aware that these items are a necessity for the business and are truly important, however coffee is and should always be our firm foundation.
Upon receiving notice of the opening of Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle, Starbucks sent out a memo to baristas informing us that we are changing the method in which we brew our pour over and that each store would receive a goose-neck pour over kettle. This was music to my ears! I was experimenting for weeks with pour overs before this news came down the pipeline.
Pour overs, just in case you’ve never heard of it, can be simply defined as pouring hot water manually over coffee grounds that brews a single serving cup of coffee. Sounds simple, right? Yet, over the past couple of years, coffee enthusiasts around the world have been working hard at methods in order to achieve coffee greatness and the perfect extraction.
There are several brewing methods out there for the pour over, but we’ll tackle the brewing method that Starbucks has implemented, and go over some terminology. As a starting point, it’s good to note that, prior to the updated brewing method, the standard was to fill pitcher with hot water, grind the coffee beans to a medium/fine setting in the burr grinder, and simply pour the hot water over the grounds. The process was completed once the cup was filled with coffee.
Now, by adding the goose-neck kettle, the barista has more control over the water flow which leads into the first step of the process. We begin by setting a timer for four minutes and filling the kettle with triple filtered water and lightly wetting the freshly ground coffee which is a process called blooming. Blooming the coffee is a 30-second process that extracts and releases the trapped co2 gasses that are locked inside the coffee, thus allowing the water to fully penetrate the grounds to achieve full extraction. The goose-neck comes in handy because, when used properly, it will keep most of the water inside the grounds and filter for the blooming process. At this point, the coffee will begin to bubble and rise.
After the blooming process, the barista then begins to pour the rest of the water in a circular motion very gradually. A thin stream of coffee will begin to fall into the cup. The barista is very careful to keep a steady stream and never allowing a drip as this will release a more bitter flavor to the coffee. The process is complete after four minutes of extraction.
As an added measure when I make a pour over, I make sure that before I add the grounds, I wash the filter first in order to remove any filter dust. This is actually a common practice and makes for a cleaner cup of coffee. Keep in mind however that this isn’t a standard practice so if you are wanting to try a pour over and would like your filter washed, ask your barista to do so when you order.
As a side by side comparison with the same coffee brewed in a standard brewer, the results are quite dramatic. With a pour over, the overall taste tends to be more clean with a bolder finish, while adding more body to the overall texture. I highly recommend Guatemala-Antigua, which is known for its juicy lemon and subtle chocolate notes, if you’re up for trying a pour over the next time you visit Starbucks.
If you want to be a guest contributor on StarbucksMelody, scroll down and check out the submission guidelines. Thank you Nick for your article. I sent Nick a Roastery card as a thank you!