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Unhookthestars
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Joined: 8 Jul 2012
Posts: 25
Location: San Francisco, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Nov 24, 2012, 8:22pm
Subject: Chemex -- How to Seat the Grounds?
 

Hello,

My question involves how to seat the grounds onto the filter.  I have seen videos where the person making the coffee use his finger to poke a mini-"well" in the middle of the grounds.  I've also heard it's a good idea to level the grounds but to not compact them (aside: I took a class once where the barista said to use a spoon as a leveling tool, but I was frankly too short to see everything that was going on during this crowded class).  Still others argue that simply dumping the grounds into a mound works just as well as any other method.  Is there a standard protocol for seating the grounds?  If not, what is YOUR preference?  Also, could you recommend your favorite YouTube or other online video for Chemex brewing?  There is a LOT out there, as I'm sure you all know, and sifting through the good/bad ones can be overwhelming.  Thanks, everyone, for any tips you can share!

j.
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Netphilosopher
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Joined: 14 Jan 2011
Posts: 1,602
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Nov 24, 2012, 8:46pm
Subject: .
 

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oldgearhead
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oldgearhead
Joined: 25 Jan 2010
Posts: 396
Location: Go Colts!
Expertise: I like coffee

Grinder: Virtuoso by Baratza
Drip: Chemex,Dilongi DCM900
Roaster: 1/2K Fluid-bed
Posted Sun Nov 25, 2012, 6:47am
Subject: Re: Chemex -- How to Seat the Grounds?
 

The only Chemex experience I have is with the 40 ounce version, and I've probably made more Japanese ice tea, than coffee with it.

Coffee:
Pre-soak water temperature - I say the temperature of the bloom/pre-soak water has a bigger influence than the shape of the 'puck'. With any pour-over or drip procedure the bitterness can be 'adjusted' by the temperature of the water used to 'bloom' the batch. Water at 205F will taste different than the same water at 180F. Try it.

Pour water temperature - With the larger ones, water temperature is critical, because they cool so quickly during the pour. Therefore, I always locate the Chemex on an electric range burner when I'm making coffee with it.

Sadly, my Chemex got broken a few weeks ago, and the ice tea hasn't been the same since. I use a Chemex filter, 190F 'bloom' water,
and 204F 'brew' water in my drip brewer to make coffee.
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EvanOz85
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EvanOz85
Joined: 9 Jul 2011
Posts: 268
Location: Lafayette, LA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II
Grinder: Baratza Vario and Preciso
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos, Yama 5-cup
Drip: Chemex, Kone 3, Kalita Wave,...
Roaster: Hottop B, Behmor 1600
Posted Sun Nov 25, 2012, 8:38am
Subject: Re: Chemex -- How to Seat the Grounds?
 

oldgearhead Said:

The only Chemex experience I have is with the 40 ounce version, and I've probably made more Japanese ice tea, than coffee with it.

Posted November 25, 2012 link

Sorry to derail things for a bit, but what is Japanese iced tea and how do you use a Chemex to make it?
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Netphilosopher
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Joined: 14 Jan 2011
Posts: 1,602
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Nov 25, 2012, 12:10pm
Subject: .
 

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Unhookthestars
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Joined: 8 Jul 2012
Posts: 25
Location: San Francisco, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Nov 25, 2012, 12:31pm
Subject: Re: Chemex -- How to Seat the Grounds?
 

Hi Netphilosopher,

I appreciate the detailed reply!  It's good to know that you and at least one other poster think that the shape of the coffee bed doesn't significantly influence the quality of the cup.  I've been having trouble making a consistently satisfying brew, partly because I don't have a whole lot of time on weekday mornings just before I head off to work to be as fastidious with measurements as I want to be.  I do try to experiment with my technique on weekends but not as conscientiously as I should.  

The hardest part for me is getting all the water into the pot within the 3- to 4-minute time frame.  Typically, I brew 30 g of a coffee at a time using a 1:15 ratio (30g coffee: 450g water).  Most of the time, it takes 5 minutes or even more for the brew to finish (including the 30-second bloom).  The last few times, once the 5-minute mark is reached, I've taken to dumping the filter/grounds to avoid overextraction and making do with what I have.  Today, that method worked quite well, i.e., I liked the resulting cup, but God knows it doesn't always turn out that way.  Truth be told, this satisfying brew was probably at least partly due to the quality of the beans.  Over Thanksgiving weekend, I made 6-8 cups for my family with my *Aeropress* in less than ideal circumstances -- I was at a relative's house and didn't have the optimal equipment or kitchen layout, but I felt every cup still turned out to be quite solid.

If I understand what you said below correctly, it looks like temperature can be a significant factor in percolation rate as well.  That IS surprising!  I tend to prefer my coffee at lower temperatures; I brew on Aeropress at 175F, for example, with satisfying results.  I might try a lower temp on Chemex -- although given the longer brew time, probably not as low -- and see what happens.

Thanks again for the help!

j.

Netphilosopher Said:

This just my opinion - but I think you'll find that there is no "right" answer.

Chemex is just a percolation manual pourover method with a slightly unique filter configuration.  In a blind taste test, I expect you would find more variation in taste with grind, water delivery time, temperature, and water hardness/quality than you will by comparing grounds that were "poked" vs. leveled vs. mounded.  Compacted, yes, there will be issues.

I'm still tuning my Chemex methods, but there's really the same brewing phases that all other percolation methods share:

water delivery rate (controlled by you)
water delivery temperature profile (strike temp controlled by you, time profile determined by method)
percolation rate (controlled by grind level, filtration barrier, bed depth/amount of coffee, compaction and surprisingly temperature)

For a manual pourover, you're just trying to deliver the water at the rate that is introducing fresh brew water at top and keeping the brew water percolating (flowing) through the grounds without much pausing.  When you grind finer, you slow the delivery rate to match and you extract more, when you grind coarser you increase the delivery rate to match and you will generally extract less.

There is no standard protocol.  The only right answers are when the method produces a great tasting cup to you.  Generally, it's best to concentrate on a recipe that properly extracts (don't worry about strength - that is easily adjusted without consequence by dilution if too strong).  In general, this will happen if you find a grind where you bloom the coffee, then deliver the water over a total time of around 3-4 minutes without excessively dry or pooled grounds.

Good luck!

Posted November 24, 2012 link

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Unhookthestars
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Joined: 8 Jul 2012
Posts: 25
Location: San Francisco, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Nov 25, 2012, 12:43pm
Subject: Re: Chemex -- How to Seat the Grounds?
 

Hi oldgearhead,

Thank you for your help!  I never even considered the difference between "bloom temperature" and "brew temperature," much less how the former influences the final product.  

Regarding Chemex pot sizes, I have the 8-cup version, but since I typically brew no more than 40g of coffee at a time (270g of water), I'm considering switching to the 6-cup version to slow down the cooling.  Of course, if cooling is the issue, I should probably get the 3-cup number, but I'm superficially wedded to the aesthetics of the classic woodneck pot, and I don't believe the the 3-cup is available in woodneck.  (Please correct me if I'm wrong.)

I appreciate your advice about the bloom and brew temps. I will experiment using your specs and see what difference it makes.  

I hope you can get a new Chemex soon so you can get back your iced tea! :)

j.


oldgearhead Said:

The only Chemex experience I have is with the 40 ounce version, and I've probably made more Japanese ice tea, than coffee with it.

Coffee:
Pre-soak water temperature - I say the temperature of the bloom/pre-soak water has a bigger influence than the shape of the 'puck'. With any pour-over or drip procedure the bitterness can be 'adjusted' by the temperature of the water used to 'bloom' the batch. Water at 205F will taste different than the same water at 180F. Try it.

Pour water temperature - With the larger ones, water temperature is critical, because they cool so quickly during the pour. Therefore, I always locate the Chemex on an electric range burner when I'm making coffee with it.

Sadly, my Chemex got broken a few weeks ago, and the ice tea hasn't been the same since. I use a Chemex filter, 190F 'bloom' water,
and 204F 'brew' water in my drip brewer to make coffee.

Posted November 25, 2012 link

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Netphilosopher
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jan 2011
Posts: 1,602
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Nov 25, 2012, 6:38pm
Subject: .
 

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oldgearhead
Senior Member
oldgearhead
Joined: 25 Jan 2010
Posts: 396
Location: Go Colts!
Expertise: I like coffee

Grinder: Virtuoso by Baratza
Drip: Chemex,Dilongi DCM900
Roaster: 1/2K Fluid-bed
Posted Mon Nov 26, 2012, 6:01am
Subject: Re: Chemex -- How to Seat the Grounds?
 

Iced tea in 40 ounce Chemex -
1 - Chemex white filter
5 grams of crushed green tea leaves
24 ounces of hot water (30 seconds off-the-boil)

Fill the bottom half of the Chemex with ice cubes, and slowly pour in the water. Keep the tea covered with hot water throughout the pour.
When finished, remove the filter and grounds, fill chemex with ice and enjoy..
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Netphilosopher
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Joined: 14 Jan 2011
Posts: 1,602
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Nov 26, 2012, 6:44am
Subject: .
 

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