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Brewing By The Beaker

New Coffee Shop Gives Scientific Show

The name of the new business on North Decatur Road near Oxford Road may lend thoughts of a good place to get a cocktail or beer. But step inside and you learn the foam at Steady Hand Pour House is on your latte. The brew is definitely the caffeine variety.

Jordan Chambers and Dale Donchey are the "in house" two thirds of a team putting new life into a store front that's been home to at least three previous coffee houses.

Donchey told Patch the earlier versions — Inman Perk, Method and Octane — are part of the reason behind the current name.

"We wanted people to know there is a steady hand at work" after past changes, he said. 

Chambers, Donchey and partner Jamie Pair the fourth were connected with past versions of the store. They are now in charge forming their own coffee company.

Physical changes have not been extreme. There are blue walls, handcrafted wooden tables and chairs plus the wi-fi one would expect of a coffee shop across from .

What's really different, they say, is both personal and scientific.

On the personal side, Chambers said, is a serious effort to get to know their regulars by name. However, it's the style of brewing coffee reminiscent of Mr. Wizard or Bill Nye the Science Guy that's a show you won't see in the competition down the street.

Each cup of coffee is prepared by hand, most of them using equipment you'd expect to see in a lab. Two procedures stand out: Chemex and Syphon.

Chambers and Donchey said it was a trip to Australia that made the procedures featured performances for the guys at Steady Hand. They say a good comparison is to call Chemex the half marathon and Syphon, the full marathon in brewing coffee, both popular methods in Australia.

Chemex uses beakers and filters bringing back memories of chemistry class to filter an individual cup.

Syphon is the star act .

Two glass vessels, one upended over the other are set over an open flame. Between the two, a glass tube, filter and coffee. Boiling water is sent from one vessel to the other, siphoned through the coffee and filter. The process takes about four minutes to make a large cup.

You'll want to carefully sample the product at first. It's very hot. Speaking personally, it was worth trying at various stages. The initial taste finds the process brings out more detail, a richer taste. As the coffee cools, the taste changes.

Donchey, an award winning barista, said the cooling highlights more of the oil from the coffee beans. It creates a different, slightly syrupy flavor. 

Higher coffee prices are as much a factor here as Caribou or Starbucks. Steady Hand contracts with a third party to develop a relationship with growers overseas, tracking coffee bean conditions and costs right down to individual farms.

Coffee drinks at Steady Hand range between two and six dollars. Chambers said his store can't compete with the one name coffee shops by undercutting prices. He said they can hold their own through the quality of their product.  

Even with the current construction and road closures on N. Deactur Road and Oxford Road, Chambers said their customer count is up, for now. He credits road construction with forcing people to walk thru the area setting them up for a stop inside.

He worries that business might decline when the storefront temporarily loses the patio area this week due to the road constructions, which is scheduled to be complete in July.

The patio area will reopen when the Emory corner roundabout is done, with stairs leading right up to the store, and it's quite possible the end result will filter a continuous flow to the Steady Hand Pour House.

RG1 April 11, 2011 at 12:29 PM
Sounds like a great place to visit- great coffee and a great atmosphere, really conducive to university life. The article paints a great picture. I felt like I was standing in the store looking around as I read about it. Wish I still lived in the area, I'd certainly visit!
PT April 12, 2011 at 09:06 PM
Gee, I guess I'll have to get there before the patio disappears (the warm weather with an iced coffee, aahhh). Well-written article that makes me want to rush out and get a Steady Hand Pour (cappuccino for me).

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