*If you haven’t already, please read my article Essential Equipment to Making Chemex Coffee Like a Pro before reading this one. It details the equipment that I will be referencing throughout this article.
Making a great cup of coffee is as much an art as it is a science. What do I mean by that? As much as a barista must develop his own brewing techniques, coffee at the end of the day is about extraction. Extraction can be systematically broken down and qualified using a series of steps and equipment that produce and verify an “optimal” result. So while you get swept away with imagining yourself as a Picasso de café, keep in mind that there are numbers you could track, and important steps to take when brewing. In this article we will look at some of those steps used in Chemex brewing.
– Get your kettle/drip kettle out and set water to boil. If you can, try using spring water over tap; Poland Springs for example.
– Weigh out the amount of coffee you’ll be using (in this article I’ll be using 40 grams).
– Take out all your brewing equipment, and follow along…
1) Filter Placement
There are several techniques to folding filter paper that work great. The main difference between them being that some are better saved for when you have time to sit down and do origami. If you purchase the Chemex brand paper filters, you can easily pull them into a conical shape that fits snugly into your Chemex. Simply separate three of the four folds to one side. When doing this, position the three-deep stacked side of the filter in line with the pour lip of the Chemex.
2) Pre-wet the filter paper
Whether you’re using a Chemex, V60, Aeropress or Dutch Cold Drip, always pre-wet the filter paper! Once the filter is properly positioned in the Chemex, take your drip kettle and rinse it entirely using water that’s at room temperature or hot. After the water has passed through the filter, simply pour out the water so that the base is empty. There is no need to take the wet filter out of the Chemex to do this. The filter will stay in place when pouring out the rinse water.
What will happen if you don’t do this? Try it and find out! Make two batches with the only difference between them being that on one the filter had been rinsed. I guarantee you will notice a defect in taste that will come of no surprise.
3) Grinding your coffee
Let’s say we’re using 40 grams of coffee. Pull out your scale, weigh out your coffee, and throw those beans into your grinder.
Every grinder is different. And because of this unfortunate reality I cannot suggest to you any bulletproof “one size fits all” grind setting. However, how we can overcome this issue is by looking at your grinders range – fine to coarse. If you can recognize either end of the spectrum, try setting it somewhere around 60%. For now that should do. As you get more discerning you’ll be able to adjust it to better suit your preferred tastes.
This is simple. Pour the coffee directly into the center of the filter so that it piles up in a mound. After it is all in there, pick up the Chemex and gently shake it side to side. The purpose of this is to level out the coffee grounds evenly so that they settle into a flat bed.
5) First Pour
With the Chemex on top of your scale, pick up your drip kettle and get read to pour – make sure that you Tare your scale! If you didn’t know, Tare is when you zero out your scale and there is usually a button on your scale that has a “T”. Now, start pouring directly into the center of the coffee grounds. Once the grounds begin to rise up, start moving your pour in a circular motion. For this first pour only 100g to 150g of water should be used, so remember to watch the scale!
6) Second Pour
After 20 to 30 seconds, start pouring again. This time, do so in a way that breaks up the coffee crust that should have formed after the first pour. I use a zig-zag motion to accomplish this, but a circular motion will also work fine. And once again, only pour about 100g to 150g.
7) Third Pour
This time you’ll be pouring in the remainder of the water needed to reach your 1:16 coffee ratio (remember? That is the weight of coffee in grams you’re using multiplied by 16). In the video demonstration you’ll see this being done in a fast paced circular motion. However, if you want to up your game, try pouring your water at a very slow and consistent speed directly in the center of the Chemex. The ideal speed when doing this can be judged by the water level neither rising nor lowering as you pour, because the rate at which the coffee is filtering through is equal to that at which the water is being poured in.
8) Removing the Filter
After you have finished pouring in all your water – which for this recipe is at 640 grams of water – sit tight while waiting for all the water to filter through. Make sure however that you remove the spent filter as soon as there is no more water pooled up in the filter bed. There will still be coffee trickling through at this point, but its flavor tends to be not so good. So take it off sooner than later!
Hopefully there are no instructions necessary for this step…
Sebastian L. Scholl: Contact