The Poursteady automatic brewer makes pour over coffee an efficient option for busy cafés – making a consistent cup as quickly as a barista can make espresso.
It was while waiting for their own pour over coffees, watching a barista struggle to brew three at once as the line continued to grow, that robotics engineers Stuart Heys and Mark Sibenac realised they could build something that would help the process.
Their first prototype of the Poursteady automatic pour over coffee machine debuted at the New York City Maker Faire in 2013. Stephan von Muehlen, a friend of Heys with a background in product design and the current CEO of Poursteady, assisted at the debut where the brewer made more than 800 cups of coffee across the weekend event.
“We received tonnes of press and went home from the faire with several ribbons. After that raging success, we agreed to see if we could turn Poursteady into something more than just a science fair project,” von Muehlen says.
“The basic architecture and technology were already there, but the prototype looked like a box of spaghetti that had exploded, with wires and tubes uncovered and coming out the sides. It was plugged into a water heater under the table, and we controlled the flow rate by lifting it to go faster and lowering it to go slower. So, our focus moving forward was looking at it from the customer’s perspective and developing a solution that would work for the specialty market.”
This included creating a more sleek and elegant design, and, realising counter space is precious in many cafés, a three-cup system that requires less space than that standard five-cup model.
The refined Poursteady was launched at the 2015 Specialty Coffee Expo in the United States, where it took home the Best New Product award in its category. Since then, von Muehlen says Poursteady has slowly built an international audience, adding distributors in South Korea, the Middle East, Europe, and Australia.
“When we launched, there was a lot of excitement around pour over and bringing it into coffee shops, but cafés were finding they either needed additional staff, were unable to serve it at peak times, or drifted back to batch brew to deal with volume,” he says.
“Customers are usually willing to wait for a freshly brewed pour over, but they are seldom willing to wait for somebody else’s. With a pour over taking three to five minutes to brew, and Poursteady brewing three to five at a time, they can easily turnover one coffee per minute.”
Poursteady is internet enabled and can be set up in a number of ways from the Poursteady app, which is accessible through any smart device. Some cafés will stick to the settings programmed on installation, others will alter these as they bring new coffees into rotation. Von Muehlen says there are coffee shops with Poursteady-dedicated tablets set up so they can adjust recipes for each coffee they brew.
The barista then just needs to grind and dose the coffee, serve the end cup to the customer, and at the touch of a button, Poursteady handles the rest.
“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,” he says. “For the shop owner and coffee roaster, Poursteady is about making sure they’re selling a consistent cup of coffee, which they can do without altering the training needed in a specialty café where staff is more attuned to making espresso.
“But 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.”
For more information, visit www.poursteady.com
This article appeared in the July/August 2021 edition of Global Coffee Report, read more HERE.