Have you heard of a Sprover?
It’s a word made from Espresso and Pour Over.
Quite a few people seem to be talking about this method of preparing coffee, so I though I would try it out and share my thoughts.
A Sprover is an Americano-like drink. It is brewed by, using slightly coarser grounds than espresso, in an espresso machine and pulling a drink which has a ratio similar to pour over coffee. As a reference, I like to use 9g of coffee and pull 160g of liquid in about 30sec. It uses much lower pressures compared to espresso. The brew method produces a cup similar in strength to a pour-overs.
I will go over; a bit more about how to brew a Sprover, what the cup tastes like, why you should consider brewing with this method, and some points to watch out for.
How to brew
So first you need to grind up some coffee beans. I use about 9g.
For the grind size, choose something in between espresso and pour overs. (quite fine, but not quite espresso fine)
Just to give some numbers, for the TIMEMORE SLIM PLUS that I use, espresso is around 7 clicks, and pour overs are about 14clicks. I find that 10clicks seem to be a good place for sprovers. Of course this is just a guideline, try some out and choose what works for you.
Once you ground the beans, put them in your basket, and tamp like you would with espresso.
WDT if you like. (If you don’t know what WDT is, jump to this post where I covered it in detail)
The puck should have a bit more gaps than your espresso puck.
Heres an espresso puck for comparison.
After prepping your puck, lock in the portafilter and pull the drink.
I usually aim for about 160g out in 30sec. But this may very for you.
For pour overs, you rely on gravity alone to let the coffee fall, but here you are using some pressure to force the liquid through.
Sorry that it’s a bit hard to tell in the picture, but the coffee does come out with quite a bit of speed.
While you are pulling your drink, the OPV should not be letting any liquid through. (If you want to know about OPVs, this is the post for you.)
If it does, its indicating that you are up at espresso pressures, and you should go a bit coarser with your grinds.
For the Gaggia Classic Pro, the pipe which is not the water in-take, is the return line from the OPV.
The picture shows the OPV releasing some pressure by letting some water back out. (This is when pulling for espresso.)
What does it taste like?
Sprovers end up with a thin layer of crema.
It does disappear quite quickly, but I think it kind of looks nice. Gives a bit of character.
The strength of the cup is similar to a pour over or americano.
It is a form of metal filtered coffee, so it smooth and has quite a bit of body from the coffee oils not being filtered out.
I think you do loose out on some clarity compared to pour overs.
I’ve been brewing sprovers quite a bit recently, and I think there are four benefits.
First, it’s a bit less hassle than pour overs. You don’t need to boil water using a kettle, rinse paper filters or wait for the coffee to drip. The fact that there isn’t a long wait time is nice in my opinion. Some may think that preparing a coffee puck is more work, and I do kind of agree there but I think its a bit more fun.
What is for sure is that you don’t need a paper filter for Sprovers. Less waste and one less thing you need to worry about.
The second benefit is that its quicker. For pour overs, you have to wait for the coffee to drip. I also use an immersion style dripper, the HARIO SWITCH, that also requires a coupe minutes of wait. Sprovers compensate for the shorter brew times by using a bit of pressure during the brew.
The third is its lower cost that americanos. Americanos are the common way to get pour over strength coffee from an espresso machine. From the way I brew, I need to use more coffee beans for the same amount of coffee with the same strength compared to sprovers.
Since you are using far more water during the extraction process in Sprovers, it’s easier to get a higher extraction. (Although, this may also have a bit to do with my mediocre espresso skills)
From my experience, a pour over with 9g, a sprover with 9g, and an americano with 12g produce a similar strength cups.
A 33% increase in the amount of coffee beans directly means a 33% more expensive cup of coffee. That’s pretty significant.
In that sense, if you want a pour over style of cup from your espresso machine, sprovers are much lower cost compared to making an americano.
The final point is matter of preference but it simply tastes nice. I like the high body feel of metal filtered coffee.
Points to watch out for
The first is that the coffee coming out of your basket will sometimes spurt out. (kind of like when you get channels in espresso, but stronger)
If you use a bottomless portafilter make sure you don’t stand too close and stain your clothes.
The other point has to do with the espresso machine you use.
If you have a Gaggia Classic Pro like me, its actually not ideal for sprovers. The reason being Gaggia Classic Pro’s have a relatively small boiler capacity of about 100ml. So technically, if you pull a 160ml sprover, the last part of your brew could just be cold water.
This isn’t a fault of the machine. After all, they are espresso machines designed to pull about 50ml of liquid at max.
If you are serious about sprovers, you may want to choose a machine with a bigger boiler, like the Rancilio Silvia with a 300ml boiler.
But having said that I’m pretty satisfied with the sprover produced by my Gaggia Classic Pro. One thing I do to counteract this to preheat the machine quite well, so that it has the best chance.
So this was a quick summary of sprovers. I personally think it’s better than americanos in most aspects. What do you think?