Steady pourover coffee by machine

Liberty Coffee’s Terence Tay with the automated Poursteady station.
Liberty Coffee’s Terence Tay with the automated Poursteady station.PHOTO: LIBERTY COFFEE

Coffee roaster Liberty Coffee has brought in the Poursteady that can make five cups in a few minutes

The days of waiting a long time for a cup of pourover coffee may soon be over.

Enter the automated Poursteady station, a sleek machine developed by two engineers from Brooklyn in the United States.

Coffee roaster and wholesaler Liberty Coffee in Mactaggart Road is the first to bring the $20,000 machine to Singapore.

The owners, husband and wife Terence Tay and Pauline Tan, bought the machine to ease the manpower crunch in cafes as well as promote pourover coffee. They are showcasing the Poursteady at their partner cafes and may consider loaning the machine to cafes in the future.

Pourover coffee is a style of brewing where water is manually poured over coffee grounds in a filter. The filter is normally placed in a Chemex Coffeemaker, Hario V60 Coffee Dripper, Melitta or Kalita coffee brewer, and the coffee is dripped into a cup.

In the age of artisan coffee, the pourover is a popular method because it highlights the nuances of coffee - especially single origin beans - with a gentler, slower extraction of flavours. It is generally more expensive than espresso- based drinks at about $8 a cup.

Making a pourover takes at least five minutes, which busy cafes may not have the time or manpower for, especially at peak times.

Using the Poursteady, a cafe can make five pourover coffees at the same time and the user can change the volume of each pour, time between pours and pour patterns for each cup.

Water is maintained at a temperature optimal for brewing coffee (about 94 deg C), using an under- counter boiler. Everything is controlled by an app, which also coordinates the motions of two motors that control the nozzle as it toggles among the five filters.

In 2014, the Poursteady won Best New Product at the Specialty Coffee Association of America's 27th Annual Exposition in Seattle.

Specialty coffee establishments Cafe Grumpy in New York and Olympia Coffee Roasting Company in Washington are among the first wave of companies to have installed the machine.

Liberty's Ms Tan, 44, recalls the days when the roastery was located in Rangoon Road and they would do about 50 pourovers on a busy day. The company moved to Mactaggart Road in MacPherson in December 2014.

The Poursteady, she says, can make up to 80 pourovers in an hour and ensure consistency in every cup.

Even though production of the machine is still in its early stages - Liberty owns Poursteady No. 16 - Mr Tay, 44, says the software can be constantly updated and new features can be downloaded to stay up to date.

Ms Tan says: "Cafes have no time for people to juggle speed and complicated brewing. The manpower crunch is not getting any better. We can programme the machine and it's not going to walk away."

The Poursteady will pop up over the next few months at Liberty Coffee's partner cafes. It will be at Patisserie G at Millenia Walk on Saturday from 11am to 4pm.

Last month, the machine debuted at Artistry cafe in Jalan Pinang in the Arab Street area. About 70 pourovers were sold in four hours.

Artistry's owner, Mr Prashant Somosundram, 36, had stopped serving pourover coffee about six months after the cafe opened in 2012, when the cafe started getting popular.

He says: "It takes time to do a pourover and we have a limited number of baristas. We don't want customers to wait longer than necessary.

"We're interested in getting the Poursteady, but not at this point. When there's more demand and the price comes down, I will consider buying one.

"It is consistent and removes human error and you get different flavour profiles from an espresso."

• For updates on Poursteady pop-ups, go to www.facebook.com/libertycoffee.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2016, with the headline 'Steady pourover coffee by machine'. Print Edition | Subscribe