I recently went to Seattle and learned that it was the “coffee city” in the US. Being European and having travelled many times to Italy, I had a hard time believing that there was better coffee than in Italy. Well I stand my ground on that one 😉 … but I did enjoy the coffee scene in Seattle and learned a lot about brewing methods.
It turns out Seattle is the city with the most coffee enthusiasts in the US, and this is mainly due to the fact that they are one of the world’s largest coffee roasting & coffee supply chain management cities.
A coffee culture has established itself throughout the years because of this, leading to the creation of the very first Starbucks shop in the world in 1971 as well as many independently owned coffee shops. It is rare to walk the streets of Seattle and not find a coffee shop / truck / stand at every corner for a sit down coffee or to-go cup.
I highly recommend going on a coffee crawl if you’re visiting Seattle, it’s a lot of fun – usually guided by a local – it will give you a real feel of the city’s vibes. If you’re into latte art you are also in the right place to have a blast !
So here I go on my coffee crawl on a cloud-threatening day throughout the streets and shops of Seattle and boy did I learn a lot about brewing methods. It’s like wine or chocolate, coffee can quite dramatically vary in flavour according to the type of roast and brewing technique used. I’ve been used to drinking from a classic expresso machine or French press which we use daily at home, but I had never had a Chemex brewed coffee before.
At first glance it’s color seemed more transparent which left me skeptical to our barista’s coffee making skills but that’s when she explained everything.
At my first sip I really enjoyed the light but vibrant aroma to this kind of coffee, I found it easier to digest and less acid (which has always bothered me in coffee). Sometimes “normal” coffee can give me a stomach ache especially if I drink it on an empty stomach or else it leaves a bitter after taste in my palate which tends to bother me.
I also think that not everyone would like Chemex coffee especially heavy coffee drinkers who need the kick and full body aspect of coffee, but I also believe that – like good wine – you can teach your palate to enjoy this kind of coffee just as another. It is actually documented that changing your coffee habits to Chemex coffee can take some adapting before fully enjoying it. Patience is key friends.
Differences in a Chemex coffee maker
A Chemex brewed coffee is filtered with a filter that is 30% thicker than traditional filters. The heavy filter eliminates unwanted fats or oils, resulting in a clean, pure, flavorful cup of coffee without bitterness or sediment, hence the clear aspect of the coffee once brewed.
Compared to the French press that will give an intense, full body, thick, acidic, rich coffee , the Chemex brew is perfect for bringing out the complexities of lighter roasted, more nuanced coffees, for a smooth cup.
It’s pretty straight forward for a 6-8 cup Chemex coffeemaker, here are the steps:
1. Place your Chemex filter inside the coffee maker, folding into a cone shape with one side 3 layers thick (this side should be placed over the spout)
2. Rinse the filter by pouring hot water in circular motion, then dispose the water in the sink.
3. Add the desired quantity of ground coffee to the Chemex which comes down to a 1:15 coffee-to-water ratio.
In other words, about 3 tablespoons of coffee for every 1 cup of water.
4. Pour a small amount of hot water just to cover the coffee, allowing it to swell and “bloom” for 30 seconds.
5. Continue pouring water in circular motion trying to stay away from the filter wall. The more constant agitation, the better quality extraction.
Once the desired amount of coffee is brewed all that is left is to sip and enjoy!