Monday, March 3, 2014

@ Pour Cleveland in Downtown Cleveland

In full disclosure, I had to consult my culture and philosophy expert Matt (also my boyfriend) before writing this post. The topic today was outside of my element: pour-over coffee.

Amy's first appearance on my blog and she's already
offering original poses.  American Apparel may be calling.
It isn't anything new to my ears, but as a novice connoisseur, I've never really understood the differences between drip and pour-over than what they mean physically. To summarize: drip brewing is like the coffee machines found on kitchen counters, and it allows a barista or consumer to brew with little thinking other than measuring water and coffee grounds.   

Pour-over is a rather hands-on, attentive method that gives the consumer or barista more control in the brewing process. Matt provides a brilliant explanation in his uniquely astute manner, "The pour-over method of brewing is the analog answer to the age of the digitized Bunn machine.  It puts soul back into brewing coffee whilst the automatic machines made the human act of enjoying coffee rather robotic.  It is for people who still appreciate vinyl records and developing photography in their basements."

These are very important concepts to remember at most hipster or alternative coffee shops, and especially important before visiting Pour Cleveland in Downtown Cleveland's Gateway District, a place that is themed after the entire pour-over method.

If coffee production had been the cash crop in Breaking Bad,
it would have looked like this. 
I failed to do any research before News-Herald reporter Amy Popik and I visited the coffee shop at 530 Euclid Ave. Saturday, Feb. 22. News-Herald reporter Devon Turchan suggested the shop, and I am glad I made the visit. It was an eye-opening moment for Amy and I and our ever-evolving coffee lifestyles.

Location: The Gateway District is noted for its proximity to Quicken Loans Stadium and Progressive Field. Although I wouldn't think most patrons at Pour are big sports fans, the added traffic does offer the critical mass for unique shops and eateries to start up nearby along Euclid Avenue and The Arcade. (Example: the Potbelly Sandwich Shop and Colossal Cupcakes, which is where Amy and I went after we got caffeinated up.)

Like almost everything in downtown Cleveland, finding free parking is rather trying, which is why I can't wait for RTA to possibly extend rapid transit up to Lake Shore Boulevard in Euclid some day.

Winner of most sophisticated menu I have ever seen.
And like most venues in downtown Cleveland, Pour closes rather prematurely. Hours of operation are 7 am to 6 pm on weekdays, and up until recently, it was 8 am to 1 pm on Saturdays. (Closed on Sundays like so many other coffee shops.)

Food and Beverage: Pour has a sophisticated menu, and one that demands a beginners guide for Amy and I.

When I visit coffee shops, I usually just order coffee, but on Pour's menu, there was no simple option. In fear of looking like out-of-touch connoisseurs, Amy and I didn't ask the barista if simple coffee was available to order. Instead, we ventured out of our comfort zones and each tried naming an exotic roast on the menu. (Matt said if I am going to use the adjective "exotic," then I need to convey that I am a somewhat ethnocentric white kid who hasn't gotten out much.)

Amy's beverage on the left was pretty flavor-less . It was
a risk she took when she ordered from the espresso
bar side of the menu. My coffee tasted great.
Together, we ordered a chocolate-chip oatmeal cookie, banana-date muffin, a large mug of Baroida Eastern Highlands coffee and a large mug of Buziraguhindwa espresso latte for $12 and change.

Despite the seemingly non-Anglo-Saxon names, Pour does provide a detailed description of the flavors and ingredients of each roast and they source the beans to the city where they were grown. It feeds the consumer's curiosity well and sets a high standard for other coffee destinations.

Space and Atmosphere: The first thoughts that sprung to my mind the second I walked into Pour was that the interior looked very sterile, very bright and very white.  (Which, seeing that I seldom get out much, was immensely apropos, according to Matthew.) Although that isn't going to win the shop an interior decorating award, patrons can rest assured that their health is in no risk.

I think Amy and I agree: there were plenty of career-
sophisticated hipsters at Pour on the Saturday we visited.
If it wasn't for the free WiFi, the high number of electrical outlets, and the options to order cookies, muffins and gobs, I would say that Pour resembles more of a wine or craft beer tasting room than a neighborhood coffee shop. It definitely ranks high as one of the most impressionable coffee shops I have visited.

Again, if you have suggestions of a coffee shop for a future entry, send it to me via email--shusted@news-herald.com--or on Twitter at @SimonSaysNH.

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