The Stand-Crafted ApproachOhio woodworker talks about building pieces for pour-overs and more
By Chris Ryan
In recent years, more and more cafés have been making the move to add pour-over to the mix. The shift toward the hand-crafted approach can have advantages but isn’t necessarily for everyone; we looked at some of the factors to consider before adding pour-over in the article “Manual Transmission” in the July issue.
But once an owner opts to go with a pour-over program, the decision of what that pour-over should look like is an important one. At Columbus, Ohio-based roaster-retailer Crimson Cup Coffee & Tea, the pour-over stand is a vessel for creativity. The company’s stands are designed by Crimson Cup coffee and training specialist Brandon Bir, who is also a veteran woodworker. Bir talked to Fresh Cup about his approach to building a memorable pour-over stand, how unique wood and other design elements can help a shop differentiate itself, and more.
Q: What’s your carpentry background?
A: I’ve been doing woodworking since I was a kid—my dad did carpentry as a side project, and every weekend we’d go out to the garage and work on something. Now I have a shop in my basement in my home here in Columbus.
Q: How did you end up designing these stands?
A: We wanted something to help show off our Hario V60s at the coffeehouse. We were expanding our bar to have a bigger area where people could sit down in front of us and watch what we were doing. We knew that the brew bar concept is largely about perception, so we wanted to build a piece that would heighten the pour-over experience for the customer.
Q: How did you actually build it?
A: The way I woodwork is to find a piece of wood that speaks to me and then build a piece from that. I have a collection of wood in my shop that I’m just waiting for something to come out of. I had this awesome piece of reclaimed walnut and decided that it would look really pretty as a pour-over stand. So I took measurements and then built it. But you can pretty much use anything to make a pour-over stand: You can go to a junkyard or other places where they have random parts from building houses. You’d be surprised what you can find that’s functional for a coffee piece—different hinges, door pieces or other stuff that can be incorporated.
Q: Tell me more about the perception element—what did you want these stands to accomplish?
A: I wanted to make something that was kind of funky so that it would also be memorable. Someone at home can put a V60 or Melitta on top of a cup, but people at home probably aren’t going to have a cool-looking stand. It’s completely about the aesthetics of it and the perception from the customer standpoint. And you can actually the see the coffee-making process a little bit better when you have the stands because it gives it room to show the coffee going through.
Q: Has your experimentation led you to build anything else for the retail coffee world?
A: Yeah, after I built my first pour-over stand it started to snowball. I started to do some stands for chorreadors—the Costa Rican brewer with the cloth filter. And I have a lathe so I started making tampers, which is what I’m pursuing now. I’m in the process of turning coffee wood into tampers. I have a friend in Guatemala who gave me two logs off of a coffee tree—they’re at least four inches in diameter, so very thick and very big for a coffee tree. I can’t even imagine how old they are. So I’m pretty excited about that project.