FARGO – Ian Johnson doesn’t drink a lot of coffee.
Maybe two cups a day.
But one of those cups is always pour-over coffee.
The manual drip-brewing method enhances the flavor of coffee beans by marrying freshly ground, high-quality beans with a steady stream of hot water over a filter cone.
The java’s made using a variety of simple vessels but when done correctly, the roughly five-minute process results in a bright, flavorful cup of joe that doesn’t need doctoring.
“It’s a much more, dare I say, romantic process,” says Johnson, a founder of Fargo-based coffee roasting company Young Blood Coffee Roasters. “I look at it as a time to think, slow down and take five minutes out of my day that I’m not dashing around the house or the office.”
Although pour-over coffee has been popular on the coasts for years, it’s quietly entering the Midwest. It’s standard in many Minneapolis-St. Paul-area coffee shops, and Fargo now has two coffee shops that serve the special brew – Stumbeano’s Coffee Bar and Classic Rock Coffee.
“It was always more of a metropolitan thing,” says Greg Stumbo, owner of Stumbeano’s Coffee Roasterie in Fergus Falls, Minn., and Stumbeano’s Coffee Bar in downtown Fargo. “It really became the trendy thing in coffee shops over the last eight to 10 years.”
And some people might be making pour-over at home without knowing it. The simple cone-shaped devices that typically make just one cup of coffee are common at grocery stores and other shops. The single-serve brewers look like a coffee cup with a flat base.
One of the most popular vessels for pour-over is the Chemex Coffeemaker, an artistic hourglass-shaped carafe that was invented in 1941.
Pour-over coffee’s popularity right now can be attributed to people wanting to enjoy craft coffee as much as a craft beer or fine wine, Stumbo says.
Since the java is manually brewed, all the variables (time, bean grind, stream of the water, quality of the water, etc.) can be controlled to highlight elements of the coffee.
Like Johnson, he views coffee as an experience, calling his coffee bar “more of a taproom.” In the weeks since opening, pour-over coffee’s become the most popular menu item at the downtown coffee shop.
Mary Murchie and Tami Bachmeier, both of Fargo, tried pour-over for the first time at Stumbeano’s here.
The women said “cheers” and sipped the coffee from the blue camp mugs, noting that it smelled as good as it tasted. They’d order it again.
“I’m not really a black coffee drinker but this is good because it’s not bitter. I’m normally a cream person,” Murchie says.
For some people though, pour-over coffee is not their preferred cup of joe.
That’s OK, Johnson says, because it’s just one brew method.
But, if you’ve only had it once and didn’t like it, maybe it wasn’t made correctly, or the beans didn’t suit your tastes or were poorly roasted.
“Put yourself in a mentality similar to what you would with craft beer or wine. It’s the same process in a different vein,” he says. “Just because you don’t like one pinot noir doesn’t mean you don’t like other wine. It’s the same with coffee.”
Tye Kjellberg tried pour-over coffee for the first time three months ago, and he’s been hooked ever since. The Creative Kitchen café specialist used to drink French-press coffee until he tried pour-over using a Hario V60 device.
“I use it every day,” he says. “People love great coffee, and they want a way to make it at home.”
More and more people are buying pour-over brewers from Creative Kitchen, too. The two most popular are the Chemex and the Hario, he says.
No matter which brew system a person chooses, all three coffee experts emphasize that high-quality, freshly ground coffee beans are a must.
“The quality of the beans has to be top-notch. It’s no different than baking a cake and using terrible ingredients and asking well, why doesn’t the cake taste good?” Johnson says. “You can brew any coffee as a pour-over but it might not taste like it should.”
But when the best beans meet water in a pour-over brewer for a few minutes, coffee drinking is an experience.
“It becomes a total art form,” Johnson says. “Marry all those elements, and that’s when you get the best cup of coffee.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Creative Kitchen’s Fall Coffee Expo
WHEN: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 1
where: Creative Kitchen, located in West Acres Mall, 3902 13th Ave. S., Fargo
INFO: People will demonstrate various coffee brewing methods, including pour-over coffee.
Pour-over brewers, like Chemex Coffeemaker, are also available for purchase.
For more information, call (701) 282-8694
Learn how to brew a cup of pour-over coffee at www.bluebottlecoffee.com/preparation-guides/drip
STUMBEANO'S COFFEE BAR
WHAT: Buy Stumbeano’s beans and pour-over brewers at the coffee bar. Coffee beans are also available for purchase online at www.stumbeanos.squarespace.com.
WHERE: 210 Broadway, Fargo (in the lower level of the Loretta Building next to The Boiler Room)
INFO: (701) 356-5575
YOUNG BLOOD COFFEE ROASTERS
Buy Young Blood Coffee at Unglued Market, 408 Broadway, Fargo, or from the roaster’s website, www.youngbloodcoffee.com. The company will soon have a brick-and-mortar coffee shop, too.
CLASSIC ROCK COFFEE
1650 45th St. S., Fargo