The perpetual stream of innovation underway in the labs of high-tech espresso machine and accessory maker Decent Espresso has lately applied itself beyond espresso alone. The company is currently reviewing pre-production factory samples of a new 58-millimeter portafilter basket accessory that’s not for holding coffee; it’s for transforming the group into a precision pourover showerhead.
The Decent Pourover portafilter basket features a small array of carefully calibrated holes in its bottom that, when paired with the ability to regulate the flow of water from the group head, allows water to pass at just the right distribution and force for brewing with a Hario v60, Kalita Wave, Melitta or other brewer underneath it. Yet a Decent-made pourover is unique for more reasons than simply the novelty of brewing under an espresso group.
Scott Rao designed the pattern, hole size and orientation of holes in the basket to yield streams that each individually create what the company calls a “circular vortex” of water upon contacting the bed of grounds underneath. The effect is intended to agitate the grounds but not to penetrate so far as to cause channeling through to the filter, regardless of the shape of the filter.
“For the common user, all three filter shapes can work similarly,” Rao told Daily Coffee News. “Flat bottom and cone can both work and give nearly identical results, assuming reasonable bed depth, i.e. don’t put 10 grams in a V60 and don’t put 30 grams in a Kalita.”
The precision of these streams presented an engineering hurdle that Decent Espresso Founder and CEO John Buckman told Daily Coffee News contributed substantially to the 18 months the project took in development.
“One challenging aspect was getting the spacing of each water spike right, and the flow/velocity just so, so that each water spike caused a revolving slurry that barely touched the slurry of the adjacent water spike,” said Buckman. “The idea is for the entire coffee bed to be ‘massaged’ by contiguous water spikes, with minimal channeling occurring. I believe this is new to pourovers.”
Control over the flow and quantity of water remains key to avoiding channeling and achieving the high extraction rate the company said is possible with its pourover system. Too much flow will cause channeling to the bottom, and yet too little won’t cause enough turbulence, according to Buckman.
Rao is also currently designing an advanced water temperature and delivery profile that will optimize and automate the process for users of Decent Espresso machine and software systems. However, Buckman said it will also be possible to get good results from any espresso machine with a 58-millimeter group that also allows for flow control, including E61 machines equipped with the flow-throttling add-ons made available by manufacturers such as Lelit and Profitec / ECM.
“Naturally, with those older machines that have flow control, unless they are programmable you will need to do this yourself, manually,” said Buckman. “If you pay attention with those other machines I think that the pourover drink quality will be very high, if you follow a flow/weight/time recipe. You will still want to use a scale and a timer.”
Pre-orders for the Decent portafilter pourover basket can be placed on the company’s retail website now for $25. The company is hoping to start shipping products to customers sometime in November or December.
Beyond that, Buckman said the next big feature the company is working to include with its V1.3 machines is a manual group head controller that offers real-time control over both flow and pressure independently through a circular, touch-sensitive group-top interface Buckman described as working similarly to the original iPod wheel.
“You touch the controller and drag the new setting,” said Buckman. “The results of your real-time changes are shown on screen, and if you like the shot you pulled in real-time, you can save it as a God Shot, and make your automated programs follow it. In this way, we think that our machines will have the best of both worlds: fully programmed shots that are reliable, and real-time control for talented people to tweak their shots as they are pulling them.”
Buckman added that this control mechanism makes the machine’s espresso extraction process both faster and more reliable, relegating its tablet into more of a configurations and quality feedback device. Decent Espresso V1.3 machines are slated to begin shipping in January 2020.