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Help me with my Chemex technique
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afk314
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Apr 2013
Posts: 1
Location: Boise
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Wed Apr 3, 2013, 5:32am
Subject: Help me with my Chemex technique
 

Hi all,

Quite an exciting day today as it was the first use of my new Baratza Virtuoso grinder for the morning cup.  For the last year I have was using a KitchenAid Pro Line grinder which frustrated me to no end with its uneven grind.  The Baratza is superior in every way, but I'm a little lost in the woods.  Any input would be greatly appreciated.  Note: I'm not going to spell everything out - so things like filter washing, water temp, etc, are all accounted for and consistent from brew to brew.  

  1. 50g light roast  (generally) coffee.  Ground today at 30/40 on the Virtuoso.  First try was at 20/40 and was much too fine (slow).  20/40 looked like a good starting place for a cone pour-over.  
  2. Desired output is 900ml of coffee
  3. Generally keep the water level at the coffee level - I don't submerge the grinds and try to match the input flow to the output flow via a spouted kettle.  

Today's batch ran in at about 5:45.  It starts off brewing beautifully - up until about 500ml (50g, roughly) of water have passed through the coffee, I get a nice steady stream.  After 500ml, everything slows way down.  If it take me 2:15 to get to 500ml, it'll take 3:30 to gain the additional 400ml.  I always assumed this was primarily due to the fact that the kitchenaid grinder produced so many fines- that my filter became clogged up at the cone tip.  Today's grind from the Baratza looked noticeably better than anything the kitchenaid would do, but coarse grinds are difficult and there were still fines around.  So, although I have a better grind, I'm still faced with the problem that has annoyed me for months.

So, my first question is this - am I simply trying to brew too much coffee in a 6 cup chemex?  Anyone else out there shooting for somewhere around one liter?  Anyone else using a Virtuoso (with Preciso burrs) on a big pot of chemex?  If so, what grind setting are you using?  Any other ideas?

Thanks,
Adam
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barkingburro
Senior Member
barkingburro
Joined: 23 Nov 2011
Posts: 203
Location: Irvine, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Vac Pot: Trifecta MB, CafeSolo,...
Posted Wed Apr 3, 2013, 5:22pm
Subject: Re: Help me with my Chemex technique
 

You might want to try the inverted Chemex technique.

Oh wait, is it past April 1 already?

 
- Michael
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TheSunInsideYou
Senior Member
TheSunInsideYou
Joined: 16 Feb 2012
Posts: 206
Location: NJ and NYC
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Breville BES900XL
Grinder: Laranzato HC-600, OE LIDO,...
Vac Pot: Yama 3
Drip: Hario V60, Chemex
Posted Wed Apr 3, 2013, 5:38pm
Subject: Re: Help me with my Chemex technique
 

afk314 Said:

So, my first question is this - am I simply trying to brew too much coffee in a 6 cup chemex?  Anyone else out there shooting for somewhere around one liter?  Anyone else using a Virtuoso (with Preciso burrs) on a big pot of chemex?  If so, what grind setting are you using?  Any other ideas?

Thanks,
Adam

Posted April 3, 2013 link

You're definitely using more than recommended, and my experience with my 8-cup is that it's a lot easier to brew smaller batches than is recommended than it is to brew larger. The capacity of the top half of the Chemex limits the amount of water you're exposing your brew to at one time, which means that the flow a bit restricted. I don't think it's impossible, but you're going to need to grind coarser, especially if you're set on your pouring method.

barkingburro Said:

You might want to try the inverted Chemex technique.

Oh wait, is it past April 1 already?

Posted April 3, 2013 link

Well-played. Haha.

-Dave-
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Crotonmark902
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Joined: 21 Mar 2013
Posts: 29
Location: Westchester, NY
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Thu Apr 4, 2013, 7:30am
Subject: Re: Help me with my Chemex technique
 

to the OP:

Thank you for writing this - this is the EXACT question I wanted to post today
I am also having an issue with brew time - I am brewing 60g of coffee at a 16:1 ratio (960g water)
No matter how fine/course I grind (Capresso Infinity) I clock in over 5 minutes for the water to flow out (this includes 30 seconds of bloom time).

I have tried brewing 20g coffee and 320 g of water on the same grind - it flows thru in 2:15
therefore I am ready to conclude that for a large Chemex pot of coffee the 4 minute limit is not attainable

Other thoughts?

It just is not logical that 160g or 320 g of water can flow thru at the same flow rate as 960 g of water.

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

Posted Thu Apr 4, 2013, 12:00pm
Subject: ...
 

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Crotonmark902
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Joined: 21 Mar 2013
Posts: 29
Location: Westchester, NY
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Thu Apr 4, 2013, 12:14pm
Subject: Re: Help me with my Chemex technique
 

Netphilosopher:
Let me just add:

i love my Chemex.  I love the coffee it makes
If i gave another impression I revert it.

I just want to do it right, is all :)

Your post confirmed my hands on analysis.

I'll keep brewing tho.

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

Posted Thu Apr 4, 2013, 12:37pm
Subject: ...
 

...
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johnnyb3
Senior Member


Joined: 29 Mar 2010
Posts: 187
Location: Anaheim, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Grinder: Baratza Maestro Plus refurb
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos
Drip: Chemex
Posted Mon Apr 8, 2013, 10:49am
Subject: Re: Help me with my Chemex technique
 

Netphilosopher Said:

Mark and afk314:

<snip>

So, Mark, you're probably right - as the grounds get deeper, the 4 minute limit is probably not attainable, but this does not necessarily mean you will never be able to make good coffee in the chemex.  The 4 minute is just a guide, the right answer is when you find the combination of grind size and contact time that works to produce the best flavor.

Posted April 4, 2013 link

Netphilosopher,

First of all, thank you for all of your tireless experimentation and write-ups. I have learned a lot from you!

My preferred way of handling that (absent a grinder that can produce a consistent and sufficiently coarse grind) is simply bypass -- aim for the desired contact time with however much water gets through the bed and then add the rest of the water directly to the brew. Is there a reason not to do this? I gathered from what you had previously written that extraction was basically decoupled from brew strength over a fairly wide range of temperatures and times, so this made sense to me as a method of controlling both.

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

Posted Mon Apr 8, 2013, 2:20pm
Subject: ...
 

...
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