Prufrock has had a resistance to the batch brew these many years and it is important to establish why this is the case. We have been resistant because it is impersonal and the aesthetics are all wrong and then there’s the taste. They look like spaceships and indeed evoke strong memories of 747 flights by the taste of many of them.
Then even when the aesthetics are improved, the storage receptacles are always pretty grim. I don’t include Italian plastic from the 80s with glass linings in this critique I hasten to add. But it is quite hotel catering like even at it’s best. It is fair to say, looking on the list of donors to the Ratio Brewers’s crowd funded project that the multitude of US coffee companies don’t agree with me, or indeed were thrilled to discover the world’s first attractive looking batch brewer. These guys have just shipped out their first consignment I’m told.
The ethos of our brew bar was established more than anyone else by Bek Freeman. When she ran our brewbar in 2010-she would say that by brewing by hand, we were trying to demonstrate to customers that they could achieve just as good results at home and by positioning our brewbar at the front of the shop made this all the more demonstrative. I still feel an attachment to the ‘expres pour vous’ origins of the name espresso which Tim Wendelboe writes about in his book Coffee by Tim Wendelboe and apply this to all coffee brew methods and so I am quite wed to the manual brew bar and the Brewer’s Cup competition and salute the inventors of crazy one cup contraptions like this and salute Mr Varney and Styles in their perpetuation of this kind of madness in the one true anti-competition; the World Aeropress competition.
The price fixing of the Mother’s milk boys at £3 for milk, the espresso or Aeropress where they were selling London’s most expensive espresso at the same time as London’s cheapest Aeropress did elicit some extreme brew bar efficiency. They really could get you your aeropress as quickly as they could prepare a milk drink. And they were dosing 3g less in the hand brew so could indeed defend the low price. And the £3 espresso really was worth it.
The other excuse we have used over the years as to why we have resisted the batch brewer apart from extreme ugliness is the ‘no unsolicited coffee information’ customer service policy at Prufrock. To order a 5min-wait-minimum hand brew from us and to spend more than the price of two of our espressos is a show of solicitation of a kind, for some coffee knowledge and so we would wax lyrical from the brewbar pulpit. This became the most intrinsic part of our brand for the first couple of years. And the most enjoyable position for our staff to assume behind the bar. But as demand grew, there is no doubt, the pleasure in these sermons reduced as it was physically taxing. Gwilym would finish his shifts at the Penny University and say it was like giving a WBC performance 30 times in a day.
We have been blogging about Espresso Efficiency Structures last week and it is worth noting that the brew bar efficiency structures have seen a lot of advancement here over the years. We are weighing up whether to bring over one of those very clever 5 Elephant/Versalab dosing things for the EK. These promise to deliver you a +-0.2g dose. Already we have a chart at the brew bar to speed up brew ratio micro-adjustments when your grind retentions shifts a little i.e if from a preportioned 15g dose you get 14.6g, you reference on the chart, what proportion less you should put in on the water in the 1-16.1 brew ratio we might normally be sticking to for that coffee. You get me?
More brew bar efficiency structures posts will follow but, it is undeniable that the labour efficiency of the batch brewer is ridiculous. Workshop get you a 40% discount for your batch brew vs their Aeropress, and it might be said it’s kodawari alone that would justify stumping up the extra cash, not taste and flavour as they do brew a tasty batch.
Safe to say we are batch-brew curious. To help us with this dilemma, we have asked Scott Rao to come and deliver a talk on this subject. We weren’t able to give you much notice, it’s a fly by night visit from Scott but we know as educators, we must be able to deliver training on how best to use these things. They constitute 50% of the US market and this year they really seem to have been embraced wholesale by the UK speciality scene. Will the Splurty (don’t let me hear anyone call it the sp-9) clean up and bring us to the middle ground? We’ve brought Scott in to arbitrate. Hope to see you there Thursday. Book here