Against The Grain

In December Fishtnk Design Factory, an award-winning creative team in Toronto, released the Canadiano, a wooden brewer inspired by the same principles as your favorite Melitta or V60—namely ease-of-use and one-cup brewing. The Canadiano is a personalized pour-over system available in your choice of lumber: maple, walnut, cherry, Canadian birch, or cask-grade white oak.

The brewer is simple. It’s a block of wood carved to facilitate coffee drainage through a small conical filter. Each model is finished naturally with nut oils. It’s a new take on an old device, but the real magic of the Canadiano is what it does to taste.

“Essentially, the wood has a memory,” says the product’s designer, Mani Mani. “The coffees you prefer will start to get infused into the wood.”

The more coffees brewed through the Canadiano, the more flavors the wood imparts into each cup. The natural finish is replaced over time by the coffee’s oils, and each type of wood interacts differently with different types of coffee. Harder, less absorbent woods like maple are ideal for lighter roasts, while more porous woods like walnut and cherry complement bolder, earthier flavors.

“You essentially try to get as much coffee as you can into the wood,” says Mani. “Kind of like a cast-iron skillet.” The Canadiano picks up more flavor with each use and requires several strong brews to season the wood before it can impart a complex profile. It’s the kind of challenge coffee aficionados thirst for, and one that speaks to the industry’s fascination with flavor. Since the product’s December release, Mani says response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We had this idea to try to brew coffee in just a piece of wood,” Mani says. “It’s very basic, very simple.” The company is in the process of creating a “camping” Canadiano—a sturdier version of the current pour-over that easily fits into a custom carrying case alongside a container of coffee—and recently released a “raw” series of untreated pour-overs that absorb even more potent oils from each cup.

—Regan Crisp is Fresh Cup’s associate editor.