perfect cup of chemex coffeeEver wonder why your home-brewed pour-over coffee never tastes as good as when you pick it up from your favorite coffee shop? It could be that a few innocent mistakes are holding you back from experiencing pure caffeinated bliss. That was the case for us until we took the Chemex Lab seminar at Coffee Con Los Angeles. Now, we’re certified coffee snobs and are here to share our wealth of knowledge on with the masses. Read on to learn how to brew the perfect cup of Chemex coffee.

What you’ll need:

  • Chemex coffee maker (ours is from the Crate & Barrel and it’s the best deal you can find on the Interwebs) and accompanying filters
  • Whole coffee beans of your choosing. May we suggest our favorites, Portola Coffee Roasters and Black Oak Coffee?
  • A grinder.*
  • Pour-over Water Kettle **
  • Water. If you want to take it to the next level, read about water hardness. In a previous coffee brewing class, we were told that Crystal Geyser (and water in New York, interestingly) is the perfect hardness for coffee.

Technique:

  1. Pour water into kettle and heat until 30 seconds before boiling. If you have a thermometer and care to use it, the temperature should be around 195-205 degrees F.
  2. Measure coffee beans and grind them at the “pour-over” setting of your grinder (it’s in the manual). The ratio should be 2 tablespoons of ground coffee to 6 oz of water.
  3. Outfit the top of the Chemex with the filter. Rinse the filter with hot water and pour water out.
  4. Add coffee grounds to filter. Pour near-boiling water over grounds just to get all of them wet. Stop before you see water filtered into the bottom of the Chemex. Let stand for 1 minute. This allows the coffee to bloom, meaning that the trapped flavor is released from the beans.
  5. Set timer to 5 minutes. In a circular motion, starting in the center and working out, pour water in an even flow. Stop at half an inch below the top of the glass. Maintain this level by continually adding more hot water until there is a minute left on the timer, at which point you should allow the water to drain completely.
  6. Remove coffee filter and throw in the trash. Don’t squeeze it for extra coffee juices!
  7. At this point, the coffee will be in a gradient with the stronger part on the bottom. Swirl the Chemex to mix the coffee together.
  8. Pour into cups and share with your family and friends. Although… this coffee is so good you’ll want to keep it all to yourself.

*This one is a bit tricky because it takes real dedication to spend money on a coffee grinder because they are so darn expensive. We recently took the plunge and invested in a Baratza Preciso grinder. It was technically free because we used Steve’s Amazon credit. If you are a coffee fanatic and want to make the perfect cup of Chemex coffee, purchasing a good-quality grinder is important because ground coffee stays fresh for only 15 minutes before it reacts with oxygen and becomes no bueno. Even the more affordable Baratza Encore will make all the difference.

**Not all kettles are created equal. In pour-over coffee, the most important aspect is water control. To make the perfect cup of Chemex coffee, you want to make sure all your grounds are evenly wet and that you pour the water in a circular motion at a certain speed. Before this class, we used our ordinary electric kettle with a normal spout. It doesn’t work so well because certain parts of the coffee get wet while others stay dry. After reading these reviews on kettles, we decided to go with the Kalita Wave Pot because it was the ideal union of form and function.

We’d love to learn about your favorite coffee roasting companies! Share them in the comments below.

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