Depending on where you live, you might be noticing single-cup or pour-over brewing at your local coffee shop. It's brewed to order, you often get to choose your beans or the origin of the beans, and you have to wait a little longer than you used to. Usually it's pricier as well. So is it worth it?
A more traditional coffee maker (like a Cuisinart or Mr. Coffee, for instance) boils water, pours it onto the grinds in a single cycle, and uses a paper filter to then drip coffee into your carafe. Most have a mechanism where they can keep this coffee warm so you can nurse it and have numerous cups throughout the morning. The problem, if you see it that way, is that you have very little control over the way these machines work or prepare coffee other than the amount of beans you add or the grind of the beans.
The hand-pour method, on the other hand, allows you to control the speed of the pour (making it slower), giving the water more time to come in contact with the grounds and, therefore, making a richer and more flavorful brew. Pour-over converts claim that each cup truly tastes different and starting to experiment with this method will allow you to truly learn about nuances in flavor. Last year in The New York Times, writer Oliver Strand mentioned that pour-over coffee is "so clean, so round and fruity, that you can fully taste all those complex layers of flavor that are supposed to be lurking in the best single-origin and micro-lot beans."
(Images: Emma Christensen)