We love Chemex. Everything they make is so clean and looks great sitting out on the counter. So if you are also a fan of all things Chemex, listen up! Chemex has designed a great handblown glass coffee mug that looks like a miniaturized Chemex coffee maker. The Chemex Coffee Mug is made from the same non-porous borosilicate glass that you are familiar with and comes in a 10 ounce size.
Gail recently took this cute little cup with her on vacation and used in a way that it is not intended. Gail made her morning coffee in the cup, just like it was the full size pour over vessel. She said it worked great and had to show everyone what she did. Take a look at the video below to see Gail’s thoughts and process for brewing coffee right in the mug! We think you will find this a pretty clever idea.
Not too long ago, we were lucky have Ristretto Roasters out at the grand opening of our Portland store to provide a tasting of some of their fabulous coffee. While they were in we got to chat with them about their approach to brewing and Ryan even allowed us to film him as he brewed on a Chemex. As we have seen with our other local roasters, Ryan had his own unique approach to the process, which was interesting to compare with the other techniques we have seen. We love having roasters in our store for coffee tastings, and Ristretto Roasters have already been back to visit us a second time, and they are hosting a third tasting at SCG Portland on September 6th, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. If you haven’t tried this locally roasted Portland coffee, this is your chance to do so. Likewise it is a great opportunity to pick up additional tips and tricks from Ryan and his crew.
How to Brew Chemex Coffee Ristretto Roasters Style:
For this brew we used Ristretto Roasters’ Kenya A/B Roast, which has taste notes of black current, Meyer lemon, and maple syrup. You get the maple syrup and current flavors right up front, and the Meyer lemon acidity is sort of a nice finish.
Start by weighing out your beans on a scale (make sure to zero out the scale once you have put your container on it, but before you add the beans).
Measure out 50 grams of coffee into your container.
Grind the coffee to a grind that is a little finer than a French press. When Ryan made his Chemex, he used a Baratza grinder set to the 28 mark.
Next, open a Chemex filter and put the three fold side of the filter on the side of the Chemex that the spout is on.
Hold the filter in your Chemex, and use the water you heated up in the kettle to damp the filter down. The damping helps the filter suck in against the Chemex, gets paper tastes out and also heats up the vessel.
Pour out the extra water that has collected in the base of the Chemex.
Add 100 grams of water to the 50 grams of coffee in your Chemex and allow it to bloom for 30 seconds; starting your timer when you add the water for the bloom.
While the coffee is blooming, the coffee the coffee is expanding and oils are coming to the surface of the grounds. This process will slow down the brew and actually start adding water to the coffee.
After 30 seconds, add water to the center of the bloom and slowly do little circular spinning motions of pours around the bloom. This agitation brings out a nice acidity in the coffee. Over the course of four minutes, you’ll be adding up to 700 grams of water.
You don’t want to rush your pour, so make sure your water line stops a quarter inch from the rim of the Chemex.
Once you reach the four-minute and the 700 gram mark, you will be able to drink the wonderful Chemex coffee you have brewed.
When the brew stops dripping, you can remove the filter with the grounds and toss it into a trashcan or compost.
Before pouring a cup of the coffee, give the Chemex a little swirl, to make sure everything is well combined.
Continuing on our tour of local roasters, we recently visited Zoka Coffee in Ballard, Washington. While we were at the roastry, we were lucky enough to have our friend David brew up some Zoka coffee on a Chemex for us. We were also able to persuade him, which really wasn’t too hard, to share some of his brewing suggestions during the process In fact, if you’ve visited us at our Bellevue retail location, hopefully you’ve been able to pick up some of David’s tips firsthand at one of the workshops he has hosted. If not, here’s your chance to see what you’ve been missing!
One thing that made this demo different from others we’ve seen was that David introduced us to a relatively new filter to use when brewing; the Coava Kone. The Kone is made out of locally sourced steel and has laser precision perforation (say that three times fast!), which provides a really clean, crisp flavor. Even without the Coava Kone, David said the Chemex is Zoka’s favorite way to make coffee in general. This brew method is a little more forgiving than something like a Hario Cone and creates a lot of body like a French press but without being as sooty or oily. As a result, the Chemex is a great way to bring out the flavor nuances in single origin coffees and in coffee blends as well. David explained that the Chemex is used as a standard in Zoka’s roastry and they are beginning to implement in several of their cafes. If you’re interested in doing the same, or want to learn how to brew on the Chemex at home, check out David’s brewing tips in this video.
How to Brew Chemex Coffee Zoka Coffee Style:
In this brew, we used Zoka Coffee’s Santa Rosa 1900, a single origin coffee grown in the hills above Tarrazu, Costa Rica.
Measure out 48 grams of whole bean coffee and grind it to about the same size as kosher salt.
Place the grounds in the Coava Kone filter in the Chemex. This filter is the reason why your grounds should be a little coarser than what you would use with a traditional paper filter. If you use the same size grind, it will be too fine and you will have a thin layer of soot at the bottom.
Begin by saturating the grounds evenly with water that has been heated to 204 degrees Fahrenheit. Let saturate for about 30 seconds.
Continue to pour the rest of the water, using frequent small pours beginning in the center and expanding circularly to the outside. Avoid pouring down the sides of the filter to prevent water from getting underneath it, diluting the coffee.
The extraction process should take a little over four minutes, and use 720ml of water.
After your coffee has finished extracting, throw away the coffee in your filter, pour coffee into a preheated cup, and enjoy. You should have about 40 oz. of coffee, enough to serve three to four people.
The grand opening of our Portland store this past weekend was a great success! We had a great turn out and had a wonderful time meeting all of you. Thank you so much for your support. Besides getting a chance to meet everyone, one of our favorite parts of the weekend was the coffee! We had a couple of our local roasters brewing on our store during the event and we got to try out some coffee from a few of the other local roasters we carry as well.
For instance, while we were visiting with Water Avenue Coffee, one of their baristas, Joshua, was kind enough to demonstrate to us how they brew coffee on a Chemex. This was a real treat for us, since we really like brewing on the Chemex. We’ve found that it creates a really smooth and tasty brew. Not only did we enjoy the coffee, but it is also fun for us to see how different roasters brew since they each have their own unique method. Watch Joshua in action to learn Water Avenue’s approach to making coffee on a Chemex.
How to Brew Single Serve Chemex Coffee Water Avenue Coffee Style:
For this brew, we used Water Avenue Coffee’s El Salvador El Manzano roast, which is a Red Bourbon, pulped natural from El Salvador that was ground just finer than drip coffee.
Pre-wet your filter paper, with some of the 192-degree water you heated for your brew.
Pour 31g of coffee into filter. Settle the grounds.
Bloom coffee for about 25 seconds by pouring in 40g of water (about 10% of the water). Make sure to use a swirling motion, inside out, while pouring. This helps ensure that all grounds are saturated so the water disperses better when you do the continuous pour.
Continuously pour 410g (450g total by weight) of water in a tight circular motion over a period of one minute. When you do the pour, pour the water in a steady stream and move in concentric circles. This is important so as to disperse the turbulence of the water and not break up the grounds, which leads to over extraction.
During this pour aim to get through all 450 grams of water and finish the pour at about 1 minute and 20 seconds.
Let the coffee extract for another minute and half (3 minutes total), give or take about 10 sec, depending of the density of the coffee and the quality of the pour.
Tip: At the end of the extraction you should have a wall of coffee around the edge your filter, which means you poured correctly. The turbulence of the water was dispersed during the pour, meaning the water didn’t hit the side of the Chemex and wash all the grounds down, which is what you want to see. You don’t want to see the bare sides of the Chemex, as that means too much coffee has gone down to the bottom.
After your coffee has finished extracting, throw away your filter, pour coffee into a preheated cup, and enjoy.
We recently had the pleasure of hosting Mike Smith from the Redmond, WA based roaster Caffe Lusso. The brand was started in 1999, when roastmaster Philip Meech realized how easy it was to find a bad cup of coffee even here in Seattle, the most caffeinated city in America. As a result, Philip set out on mission to improve coffee experience in the Northwest, and to create the best cup of coffee possible from available green resources.
While Mike was in the store, he demoed his approach for brewing on the Chemex. Some people think the Chemex is just one of the hip new way to brew coffee, but it was actually invented in 1941, meaning it has been around for over 70 years! What we like the most about this brew method is that it looks like part science experiment (as you probably know by now we love science!) and also brews great coffee. It’s also a fun way to brew coffee at home, since it brings out some of the more nuanced flavors of the coffee, especially if you’re dealing with a single origin or something more unique to your coffee program. Not to mention the design of the Chemex looks really nice and is sure to impress any guests you serve.
How to Brew Chemex Coffee Caffe Lusso Style:
Place a Chemex filter (which is basically a four-sided filter) inside the top of the Chemex, with three sides against the spout – this allows for air to pass through both in the brewing process and through out the entire brewing method.
Before brewing, pass water that has been heated to 200 degrees over the filter in the Chemex. This pre-infusion process will get rid of any paper taste or feel from the filter and temper the glass vessel, which will help keep your coffee from getting cold.
Once you have pre-infused your Chemex, make sure to pour out any excess water that has collected in the bottom of the carafe.
Now, you can load your coffee into your filter. For this brew we used Caffe Lusso’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. For this roast we used the grind setting in between the notch for a flat bottom and paper cone.
The next step is the desire amount of coffee you want into the filter. When dosing your coffee, it is always best to use a scale. You’re often supplied with tablespoons and things like for measuring out your coffee, but they are not an exact science, so it is better to us weight if you want to be consistent.
For this brew, we scooped 44 grams of coffee into our filter, making sure to scoop a little divot out of the center, so it can capture some of the water.
Then, pour a little water into the divot you just made in the coffee, and allow it to sit for a few seconds to serve as a pre-soak. At this point you won’t see a whole lot of coffee dripping into the carafe, but there might be a little bit.
The next part of the process is where the actual brewing of the coffee occurs. This step takes about 3-4 minutes, so Mike recommends that you set a timer and start it to make sure you are no track with the time.
Once you’ve started your timer, slowly pour in 700 milliliters of water. Use a circular motion that goes counter clockwise, starting from the outside of the filter and moving in.
Since your scale was set to 44 grams when you added the coffee, you will when you have put in 700 milliliters of water when the scale reads 744. (The density of water of is equal to 1 g/mL, with the mass of 1 mL = 1 g).
After a minute or so you’ll notice that the coffee will start dripping through the neck into the base of the carafe. Once you get to the three and a half minute range, most of the water will have passed through the grounds, and you’re brewed coffee will be in the base of the carafe. However, you can continue the brew for up to four minutes if you so desire.
Once you’ve reached the four minute mark, you’re brew is done. Remove the filter and pour yourself a cup of coffee.
Caffe Lusso is doing a couple more events with us at our Bellevue store in May. Their farmer Sergio from Brazil will be here to discuss their farming technique on May 3rd and they will be doing a traditional cupping on May 10th where you can sample a variety of roasts. So if you’re in the area make sure to stop by, get to know the folks at Caffe Lusso and taste their delicious coffee.
We met you at the Coffee Fest Latte Art World Championship Open in Seattle last month. What’s it like competing?
Full disclosure: I only started competing this year. My first throwdown was last July. Competing is honestly kind of weird. It’s not really a replication of how latte art works in the cafe environment, but it’s so much fun. I love the chance to jam with other coffee people, talk (really enthusiastically) about great coffees and latte art techniques and espressos. Eighty percent of why I love competing is to hang out with coffee folks. The other twenty percent is, well, who wouldn’t love a giant rock-paper-scissors tournament but with milk and espresso?
What was the first coffee drink you remember tasting?
The only coffee in my house as a kid was swill (sorry dad,) so I didn’t really try coffee when I was young. I remember drinking sugary/milky drinks from Dutch Bros drive-throughs with my sister, but I didn’t really start drinking coffee in earnest until I started working with it in 2010.
What do you drink now at home?
When I’m just brewing for myself, I usually use a Kalita Wave with whichever delectable coffee I happen to have at the time (I’m particularly fond of juicy or citrusy coffees). If I’m sharing with my roommate or friends, the Chemex is my standby. I also have an AeroPress and a French press on hand in case the mood should strike me.
What do you drink at work, if different?
Everything! I love espresso. You can’t get more beautiful than the purity of a well extracted shot. But I also drink cappucinos, Americanos, pour overs, drip, you get the idea. Whatever fits my mood!
What’s cool about the Portland coffee scene?
In brief, the people. Portland has such a huge diversity of people in the coffee scene, from guys who’ve been slinging shots at Stumptown for a decade, to folks who’ve transplanted here from cities without good coffee for the sake of the coffee, to people who’ve been building relationships with coffee farmers, and everyone in between. Most people are really fun to hang out with, and obsessed with quality. I’m honored to be a part of such a brilliant community, honestly.
What are your thoughts on quality versus customer service skills?
As a friendly barista in Portland, a town (apparently) famed for bad customer service, I have encountered two very distinct attitudes: One, people assume that if someone is friendly, they don’t know how to make fantastic coffee; and two, people will avoid somewhere they perceive as snobby, willingly sacrificing quality for friendlier service. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for baristas to be friendly and skilled! Even the most delicious espresso in the world isn’t any fun if the barista isn’t willing to talk to you about it, and even the friendliest cafe experience in the world is no fun unless the espresso is delicious. And really, I consider my customer service skills to be equally as valuable as my coffee skills. Knowing how to read people and give them exactly the level of service they need and expect is hard, and just as much of an art as extracting delicious espresso.
Do you ever judge people by the drink they order?
I try really hard not to, but when someone orders a decaf at 9am…
If you could teach people one thing about coffee (or latte art), what would it be?
It’s worth it to invest some money in your coffee experiences — both beans and gear! But don’t necessarily assume that more expensive always equals better. Talk to your baristas, and your roaster if possible. Find out what’s delicious, and get a good home brewing set up! It’s worth every single penny.
The Fresh Pot in Portland, Oregon has three locations and if you’re lucky you will run into Bethany at one of them. She’s been pulling shots with them for a year and a half. Bethany can also be found competing in organized latte art competitions around the Northwest.
Do you think you’re ready for this gelee? We think you are!
If you’re in the market for a super fun and fairly simple coffee-infused dessert, this recipe is a great choice! In addition to having fun while you make it, you could get creative in how you serve it, too — in demitasse with a dollop of whipped cream on top, in chilled coupe stemware with a dash of cinnamon to finish it off, in elegant serving spoons with a side of dark chocolate.
Watch as Brandi creates this delectable treat!
Video: Coffee Gelee Recipe
6 tablespoons ground coffee (ground for a pour over / Chemex)
2 1/4 cups boiling water plus 1 tablespoon cold water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 teaspoons vanilla
Using a non-electric brew method (like a pour over or Chemex,) brew your coffee with 2 cups of the hot water.
In a saucepan, bring the remaining 1/4 cup of water and all of the sugar to a boil until sugar has dissolved, creating a simple syrup. Remove the pan from heat.
Soften the gelatin by sprinkling it with the 1 tablespoon of cold water and let it sit for about a minute.
Combine hot coffee, simple syrup and vanilla, then add the gelatin and stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved.
Put the mixture in a bowl and chill, covered, until it has softly set — about 8 hours.
What was the first coffee drink you remember tasting, did you like it?
I remember loving the smell and the sounds of my dad’s morning coffee ritual: stoking the wood-stove, boiling water in the brass kettle, grinding K-Bay beans by hand with his Spong while I stayed in bed and the wood-stove heat and steamy coffee wafted up to my loft. But I hated the taste of the stuff.
What do you drink now at home?
I actually don’t make coffee at home. I live half a mile from my shop and coffee is a great incentive to get out of the house in the morning. During the summer, when I’m not in Anchorage, my French press is hard at work every day.
What do you drink at work, if different?
I open the shop 4 days a week so my first coffee is usually tasting the house espresso blend and our single origin espresso of the day. Mostly I like a cortado or a Chemex of whatever we have fresh. Our Columbia La Virgen is pretty fantastic right now. Sometimes I’ll go for a small Americano with a dash of heavy cream, but just a dash.
If you could teach people one thing about coffee, what would it be?
Every step matters. There isn’t a ‘darkest roast’ or a ‘strongest coffee.’ Good coffees are roasted just enough to bring out their inherent positive flavors. They’re roasted so you don’t need to mask negative flavors with cream and subdue bitterness with sugar. Certainly there is a spectrum of coffee flavors, but within that there is a world of subtleties to explore. Black coffee is not one flavor.
What’s cool about the Anchorage coffee scene?
Haha nothing. Well, us.
Nooo, in Alaska there isn’t much of a coffee culture. Kaladi’s has been the biggest thing going for quite awhile [since 1986] but they really offer a different product and cater to a different crowd than SteamDot. It’s exciting to see people come into our shop for the first time and watch their face as they sip a Chemex brew and they realize why we don’t have brewed coffee waiting out all day. Anchorage is unique because we get to give a lot of folks their first single origin, or their first real cappuccino or macchiato.
As a barista what are your thoughts on coffee skills versus customer service skills?
Anytime you go out to a restaurant or a bar or a coffee shop you’re paying for an experience. Part of that experience is the food, the booze, the coffee, part is the service, part is the place; it’s a mosaic. While each aspect takes more or less energy, the whole picture is ruined if any one piece is missing. Which aspect is the most important is going to depend on each customer and what experience they’re after. But why not be a decent person and try every time to pull a damn fine shot? I love coffee and I love talking about it, being rude just makes people go away; I try hard to be inclusive and informative.
Do you ever judge people by the drink they order?
We’re all here to enjoy our own beverages, some folks are more excited about drinks with coffee in them, while others are stoked to enjoy and explore the spectrums of flavors coffee has to offer on its own. I can’t fault someone for enjoying espresso covered in 16 ounces of scalded milk and stiff foam, white chocolate, raspberry and caramel sauce.
Are the espresso shots your dad pulls better than yours?
On our 3-group Strada? Hell yes mine are better. On his La Pavoni? Nope, his mad 2-stroke mechanic skills got me beat on the manual machine. But I taught him everything he knows about espresso!
SteamDot Coffee roasts coffee and espresso fresh in Anchorage, Alaska and operates two ‘slow’ coffee bars there.
You know that we play with a lot of different types of coffee equipment here at SCG and the crew definitely has their faves! We asked for volunteers to share which gear they dig in different product categories. Watch as Brendan, Kaylie, Shiami, Sam, Gail, Bunny, Dori, Teri and Miranda talk to us about their favorite kettles, pour overs, immersion / press pots and drip coffee brewers.
We’re finally experiencing the joy of summer (!!) and there’s no better way to rock it than with a tall glass of cold brewed coffee in your hand. Jessica’s favorite brew method is the Chemex, so we asked her to demonstrate this brew technique to one of our compatriots, Teri, which involves standard Chemex brewing into a carafe filled with ice.