Hand-Brew - The Resurrection


It’s almost Easter and unthinkable things can happen.

About two and half years ago we panned off single cup hand-brews, or ‘pourovers’, as not in keeping with the progression of our industry. For us it seemed to defy logic to sacrifice service and speed for the needs of one transaction. In fairness a bigger concern was that in busy periods this sacrifice wasn’t even worthwhile as the demanding and exact procedure, combined with the frantic morning rush, almost always resulted in a disappointing cup. It was a comedy of errors in our opinion.

In business it’s usually true that you get more wrong than you do right, especially if you look back. Therefore, on reflection, it’s time to give hand-brews one more shot. Let’s roll away that stone and listen to ‘Chief Pour(l)over’ Alex Williamson discuss what’s changed?

The thought process behind reintroducing them to Cairngorm comes with our evolution as a coffee roaster ourselves. Right now we have four different origins on rotation and are limited in terms of how we can offer them. Without rotating our Batch Brew, we have few means to really compare our different offerings on the same playing field. Being able to rotate and serve our range of different coffees through the same preparation method would invite customers to experience the differences between them, as well as encouraging discussion over them. 

When Cairngorm last offered pour-over coffee, it proved to be a frustration with staff. The method we used before needed a lot of care and attention to detail, as well as multiple pulses of water that the brew method required. This created tension between keeping up with the constant flow of espresso orders and making sure that the pour-over was made up to standard. Timings would sometimes be lost and the workflow was compromised, sometimes leading to annoyance when an order would come through. Eventually they were scrapped due to the feeling that they were redundant, which at the time made complete sense. 


Reintroducing them now with the clever dripper however is something that has the potential to generate a lot of excitement. The general preparation workflow would be somewhat similar to the way that we’re used to making our tea and the consistency of the brews it produces makes it perfect.

The brew style is known as ‘steep and release’, combining the flavour, body and ease of an immersion brew method with the clarity and complexity of a drip method. Hopefully this combination, as well as the cleanliness, ease and consistency, will lead to us successfully reintroducing single-serve hand brewed coffee back to Cairngorm.

High quality speciality cafes such as Workshop in London, Habitat in Aberfeldy and even Brew Lab in Edinburgh back in the day, have already shown that the Clever Dripper is an effective brewing method in a busy environment and we would, I believe, be the only speciality shop in Edinburgh to currently offer it. 

We’ve got a pretty simple recipe if you want to try making our coffee at home.


Clever Dripper Recipe

  • 21g Dose / 340g Yield

  • 96°C water

  • Grind at about 9.5 on an EK43 or courser than most pour over grind profiles

  • Rinse filter and drain into pouring receptacle. 

  • Add your coffee, making sure the bed is flat. 

  • Add all 350g water, preferably within 15 seconds. 

  • After 1 minute, stir the top crust back into the brew. 

  • After 2.5 minutes release the coffee

  • At 4 minutes, cut off the brew if still pouring. 

    Target TDS - 1.23-1.35%, if you’re counting!

Meraki Concept Studio