|A man sharing great coffee.|
Hand brewed and specifically hand-poured coffee has been around forever. Among enthusiasts and baristas, it's a passion and craft, and taken quite seriously even to the level of competition. Many local coffee shops offer pour over brewing for some, if not all of their coffee. My favorite is Espresso A Mano in Lawrenceville. Matt, the proprietor, is one of the friendliest and most knowledgeable baristas I've encountered. He's calm and soft spoken and addresses most of his customers by name. Honoring its namesake, the cafe is known for its handcrafted espresso drinks; their delicate latte art was featured on a cover of Edible Allegheny magazine.
|A sweet cup of Counter Culture's Aida's Grand Reserve.|
Pour-over brewing employs a teacup-like filter holder and a steel kettle with a thin, swan-like spout. The barista delicately douses the freshly ground coffee, allowing it to bloom. After a short bit, the barista pours a slow and even flow of water. The result is a special cup of coffee worth every penny. (Price varies, but around $3) The flavors and texture are clean, delicious and awakening to the palate. To note: the brighter and sweeter coffees are great palate cleansers. I'm much more aware of food flavors after drinking them. If you're interested in espresso, this is a fine place for that. They generally offer two different varieties which are markedly different in taste.
Espresso a Mano sits in a relaxed and well appointed space. It's rustic yet modern with original brick walls, wooden beams supporting overhead floorboards and a gleamingly polished espresso machine reflecting your image as you pass. Though you will see mostly professionals and students interacting with the shop's free wifi, you can find yourself pulled into a conversation with strangers standing with their coffee around the ample coffee bar. If you're impatient and easily upset, this might not be the place for you. Drinks are made quickly but with a keen eye to quality.
Handcrafted coffee is worth the wait. It's a simple pleasure that won't be discovered if in a hurry. In the right hands, coffee is elevated to a serious craft; a meditation of alchemy and technique to produce a delicious result. Espresso A Mano is one of those few places where this magic happens. When such effort is given, you are compelled to relax, to slow down and savor. Quite the opposite of how coffee is largely thought of.
Espresso a Mano, and probably your local coffee shop, offer most of the equipment you would need to pourover brew at home. It's well worth the investment in my opinion, especially if you're spending top dollar on coffee. Before ordering online, I recommend you consider directing your dollars locally, considering the economy (and shipping costs).