One of the cool things I saw when touring Fourbarrel coffee last year (with the Google+ Local team) was a device for brewing coffee called the Chemex.
Invented by Peter Schlumbohm in 1941, it has been hailed one of the 100 best modern devices(NYT). It’s currently is a part of the MoMA in New York City. It’s been featured in several films such as From Russia, With Love. It vaguely looks like a chemistry beaker. You might be wondering what all the fuss is about?
The process to brew coffee via Chemex is very similar to a drip coffee machine, but some key differences is what makes a Chemex cup better. Grounds in the Chemex are usually ground much coarser than drip coffee (think French Press). And, like a French Press, you let the coffee “bloom” before pouring water over it in earnest. This takes more time to brew than a drip coffee maker (especially something like a Keurig) but the quality of the coffee is much better.
One of the reasons that the coffee could be better is there is a high propensity to use nicer coffee in a Chemex. In what I like to call “The Hipster Effect”, when brewing coffee in an “atypical” way, you tend to gravitate towards artisan coffee. I hopefully don’t sound like I’m knocking this- better ingredients get you better results. So, while we were at Whole Foods the other day, we picked up a pound(ish) of coffee from Fourbarrel (stop judging).
After coarsely grinding a few scoops of coffee in our (brand new) grinder, we placed a filter in the Chemex and poured the grounds in. We poured a tiny bit of water over them to let them “bloom” and waited a couple of minutes. We then slowly poured water over the grounds till we had a nice “pot” of coffee waiting for us. Boy, was it delicious!
Now, the Chemex is one of many different ways to brew coffee. It’s quickly becoming one of our favorite ways to brew coffee, especially on the weekends. By slowing down the process, the end product tastes so much better! If you live in SF, and want to learn how to make better coffee at home, I highly recommend the (you guessed it) “Making Better Coffee at Home” course by Fourbarrel!