How Poursteady can boost efficiency in a busy environment


Poursteady explains why the automatic pour-over machine might not only mean a shorter wait time for a coffee, but a better cup altogether.

While waiting for a coffee at a San Francisco café in 2012, robotics engineers Stuart Heys and Mark Sibenac observed a barista struggling to meet demand for pour-over coffee. As the line continued to grow, they realised how they could help speed up the process.

Heys and Sibenac went about building the first automatic pour-over coffee maker prototype for busy coffee shops. They applied the same engineering and technology the National Aeronautics and Space Administration uses for test rovers, and laboratory equipment used in the pharmaceutical industry.

“We brought the first prototype to the New York City Maker Faire in 2013, where we made over 800 cups of coffee in the first weekend,” says CEO and Co-Founder Stephan von Muehlen. “We took home a bunch of awards, and that’s when we realised there might be more to this than just a science fair project. That was how Poursteady was born.”

As designers and engineers, co-founders von Muehlen, Sibenac, Heys, and Greg Mihalko were confident they could create a reliable industrial system that would make waves in the specialty coffee industry.

“We invested all our time in learning from coffee professionals to create a tool that would meet the needs of the retail coffee environment. Our elevator pitch was that we were making a product that could make pour over work as well as espresso in a busy coffee shop,” von Muehlen says.

Poursteady automatic brewers are designed to bring unprecedented speed, precision, and reliability to commercial coffee retailers and better coffee to their customers by combining automation, information technology, and design. The brand’s first product, the PS1 five-cup system, was launched at the 2015 Specialty Coffee Expo in the United States, where it took home the Best New Product award.

“The PS1 allows for each recipe you program on a station to be repeated exactly the same way, every time you press the button,” says von Muehlen.

When continuously running, a barista can make around one cup per minute when all stations are in use. Von Muehlen says pour-over orders are a simple button press instead of a time intensive task.

“You can also dial-in your roasts with custom pour pulses, varying pour patterns, all using our professional cloud-based interface,” he says.

In 2016, Poursteady launched the PS1-3 three-cup system, then unveiled the PS2 two-cup system in April 2023 at the Specialty Coffee Expo. Von Muehlen says it has a new design, smaller footprint, better technology, and more customisability.

“Poursteady PS2 makes it easier than ever to dial-in and switch between recipes on the machine. The user can choose between the pre-programmed library of recipes, or tailor each recipe themselves on the machine or through the app,” he says.

“It also offers more flexibility to create recipes when and how you want. You can create or edit recipes directly on the machine or use the Poursteady app to create on the device of your choice. Some cafés will stick to the settings programmed on installation, while others will alter these as they bring new coffees into rotation.”

The barista just needs to grind and dose the coffee, then watch the magic unfold.

“The operation of the Poursteady via web app is extremely versatile and can be as simple or as in depth as any barista would like. Starting with the brewer type and coffee dose, your team are able to input a wide range of variables and receive brew ratios and total brewing time in return,” von Muehlen says.

“Then comes the water dispense, and this is the fun part. Via the app, you can select and then fully automate the shape, size, and timing of each pour from the rotating nozzle which will whip, with lighting speed, from pour-over to pour-over on the rack. It’s a lot of fun to experiment with these variables. For example, one long pour verses 10, 12 or 20 pulses. Diving deeper again, you can choose from many different pouring patterns which you can pair to the specific needs of your pour-over choice. The options really are endlessly variable, yet infinitely repeatable.”

Von Muehlen adds that the tankless integrated on-demand boiler means precise temperature control, and more nuance for recipes. He says the user can reduce maintenance and install complexity with no tank, no pump, and fewer moving parts.

“Going from a boiler to an in-line heater has an enormous effect on its carbon footprint and energy use. A boiler maintains four to 10 litres of water at near boiling temperature for as long as you’re using the machine. Although it’s insulated, you’re preserving a mass of water indefinitely. An in-line heater simply heats the water that you’re using right then and there. The idle energy consumption is much lower than that of a boiler,” von Muehlen says.

“The small footprint and customisable, clean design of the Poursteady is the perfect statement piece for any countertop. Baristas can wow customers not just with a perfect cup of coffee but give them a show while they wait.”

Every piece of the unit is manufactured in house by Poursteady or sourced from trusted vendors. Each machine is assembled and tested for thousands of cycles at the Poursteady headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, before heading out into the world. Aside from build quality, von Muehlen says the Poursteady comes to life and gathers onlookers when it’s in action.

Poursteady automatic pour-over coffee machines have been installed in cafés and coffee shops around the globe.

Von Muehlen says the unique and thoughtful style, the engineered precision of the pour, and the ability to program recipes with an easy-to-use application have made pour-over coffee fast, efficient, and delicious.

“Really balancing automation and craft is important to us. Brewing coffee, especially pour-over, is a ritual and the barista brings a lot to it, and we don’t want to bring any more automation to the process than is necessary. For the shop owner and coffee roaster, Poursteady is about making sure they’re selling a consistent cup of coffee,” he says.

“What Mark and Stuart saw in that coffee shop almost 10 years ago was this overworked barista who had to focus in on weighing and timing all these coffees, all without interacting with customers. Poursteady was designed to lift that pressure on the barista, so that everyone can have a better coffee experience.”

Poursteady is focused on distributing the PS2 model worldwide and honing its research on new product development.

“We’re a small team with a lot of passion. We’re taking it one product at a time, but we look forward to growing our product line,” von Muehlen says.

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This article was first published in the November/December 2023 edition of Global Coffee Report. Read more HERE.

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