An agent is only as good as his gadgets. Well, that’s partially true. There is definitely training involved. However, without those handy tools the job at hand becomes mission impossible.
It’s easy to make coffee with nothing more than one large glass jar and a pillow case. Believe it or not, some of your favorite coffee shops are probably using that very method for their cold brew. Even though the minimalist approach works and is low cost, sometimes we rather invest in a little equipment for a different result and experience. So in this article I’ll explain what gadgets you’ll need to make a world class Chemex brew. And in a follow up article I’ll explain exactly how to use them.
Gadget 1: A Chemex
The Chemex is an hourglass shaped brewing device made of non-porous Borosilicate glass. It’s used to make pour-over coffee (as opposed to espresso or other brewing methods) and works by setting a filter in the upper cone area, through which the coffee is brewed.
Chemex’s are among the most popular manual coffee brewing apparatuses. And that’s not only because of their beautiful aesthetic. When used properly, they will produce a lively and clean cup of coffee.
*Note: Make sure to order the Chemex paper filters as well.
Gadget 2: A Scale
Why would you need a scale? Well, two reasons. The first being that you need to weigh out your coffee to a 10th of a gram. There is no eyeballing it here, or using “just one scoop”. We want to know exactly how much coffee we are brewing, which brings us to the second reason you need a scale.
You’re going to brew your Chemex on top of the scale. This way you’ll be able to keep track of how much water you’re using by weight. This is important is because keeping track of water ratios is crucial to brewing great coffee. A water ratio is the exact amount of water you pour to the amount of coffee you’re brewing. The most common way to judge this is by weight using grams.
Many of the best baristas I know generally use a 1-to-16 ratio. This is the ratio I use, and have found to be the most universal. So, this means that if you’re weighing out 30 grams of coffee, you’ll be pouring 480 grams of water (30 x 16 = 480). If you find this confusing don’t worry, I’ll hopefully be able to clear it up by the end.
Gadget 3: A Drip Kettle
It’s crucial when making pour-over coffee that you are able to pour water in a controlled manner. In order to do that, a drip kettle is clutch! Your grandmother is likely to have a pewter one of these propped up on a shelf next to your baby pictures. Honestly, that one will do. All you will have to do is pour water once it is at a boil into that drip kettle.
There is however a fancier and more convenient option. Hario makes an electric drip kettle that allows you to boil the water right in your drip kettle. They work great, are heavy duty, and reliable. Plus, it eliminates the chance of you scalding yourself while transferring boiling water from one pot to the other.
Gadget 4: A Grinder
A coffee grinder can run you anywhere from $10’s to $1000’s. And the quality will vary drastically, in both consistency and usability. For the home barista with a healthy piggy bank, $200-$300 will buy you a great electric grinder for the kitchen counter. These machines can grind up your coffee in just a few seconds, and can often automatically weight out your coffee (you’ll still need the scale for the water!).
However, a hand grinder is the way to go for those who want to keep the budget low and quality high. These manual grinders will definitely demand more of your time, so be wary. The end result is more often worth it though!
Now if you don’t want to buy a grinder at all you can always run down to your local coffee shop and ask them to grind your coffee for you. HOWEVER, coffee that is brewed within 20-30 minutes of grinding will be much more expressive and flavorful than pre-ground coffee. It’s your call…
You might be asking yourself, “Really? All that for a cup of coffee?” Yes. There is nothing wrong with a $1.00 coffee served in styrofoam from the gas station. But if you want to learn to appreciate coffee for more than its caffeine content, and in the comfort of your kitchen experience the intricacies that different beans posses, a Chemex, scale, drip kettle, and grinder are essential tools to enabling your experimenting.
Now that you know the gear, I’ll soon follow up with an article on how to use it.
~ Sebastian L. Scholl: Contact