Saturday, July 09, 2005


fun with chemex

oh, so that's what oren's been talking about. . .

gentle readers, listen to me and listern to me well: if you drink oren's coffee, you must, must, must make it in the chemex. end of story.

oren loves the chemex, and as someone who has made oren's coffee by just about every method known to mankind, it is clear that oren either consciously or un- creates his coffees for chemex brewing.

likewise, if you've tried oren's coffee and thought "eh?" then you must try them again in the chemex. your "eh?" will change to "oh!"

as i am wont to do with any new coffee pot, i approached this new chemex thru scaa chief ted lingle's famed brewing control chart. oren has sweetly given me a 10-cupper, which i measure holds 1.6 liters or about 54 oz. water up to the bottom of the wooden collar.

by the chart and by the famed lingle coffee constant, this means i would use 3 oz. or about 86 g. fresh ground coffee. naturally of course over time you experiment to find the exact amount that suits your own taste -- a little stronger, a little weaker -- but this gives us a fantastic place to start.

my trusty saeco 2002 burr grinder has 15 numbered settings, with a halfway mark between each one; oren had suggested that i try setting number 12. so i did.

the grounds smelled deliciously floral, and already the blueberry and plum tones wafted up as i scooped the grounds onto the scale to weigh them.

the fresh harrar longberry oren had given me appears to be 2 days old. this was a tad worrisome to me as i feared coffee this fresh would bloom out of control over the top of the chemex,esp. since you don't stir the coffee, which would help dissipate the bloom.

besides oren's instructions yesterday, i knew that oren kept the water kettle boiling on the stove between pours. so after pre-wetting the filter (to remove any paper-y taste and keep it from wicking up water that should go into brewing), i picked up my beautiful copper kettle and poured maybe 6 oz. water carefully around over the grounds.

kaboom! indeed, this ultra-fresh coffee did massively blossom with a lovely blueberry scented mousse.

i placed the kettle back on the flame and waited about 40 seconds. the bloom subsided only slightly.

then i resumed pouring about a bit at a time -- you have to look at the side of the chemex to see the water level thru the filter. and when you pour, you have to be careful to try to wet the coffee surface evenly.

all in all from first pour to last drip, the process took 11 mins. and 30 seconds. i have to say that while some people make fun of the chemex's scandinavian-type design -- even tho' it is in several museums -- when full of coffee it looks charming, rather like an old-fashioned religeuse.

i mean, the dark black "habit" with the monk-ish leather "belt," the brown "collar," and the pointed or peaked white filter resembling a wimple. . .while the creator of the chemex was a scientist, his device harkens back to a time when coffee was considered healing, medicinal, and even spiritual.

the chemex produces a clear coffee, with what i'd call a light-medium body. before pouring out my first cup, i gave it a gentle swirl to mix the first drips with the last.

made in the chemex, oren's longberry does display a light blueberry in the cup. instead of a dark powdery dutch cocoa aftertaste, as i would expect from a harrar made in vac pot or cafetiére, the chemex gives oren's coffee more of a dark honeyed caramel aftertaste, with a dry finish that does make your mouth water a tad.

as the coffee cooled a bit, i thought the blueberry actually became a little more pronounced. and i thought, hmm, you really need to buy the little glass lid accessory for this puppy to keep the coffee warm. . .

i think that even with the grind at "12," the coffee in the end was a teeny bit overextracted. the next pot i make will be ground at "14."

however i do feel that for the first time i began to approach the depth of flavor and the nuances oren intends in his coffee. this makes me think immediately of his famous coban, which was so superlative. . .

i wonder what hidden suprises the chemex would reveal now!

posted by fortune | 9:59 AM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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