Chemex techniques

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Chemex techniques

Postby Matthew Brinski on Wed Dec 12, 2007 5:29 pm

I have been putting some (ok ... a lot) of effort into experimenting with brewing techniques via the Chemex. As of right now, my only unchanging technique is rinsing the filter pre-brew. Everything else is constantly getting messed with: Pre-wet / no pre-wet, agitation practices (when / how long / if at all), and of course - dose and grind.

I seem to be happy with my dose on the high side. I have been running Guatemalans from Stumptown and Alterra at 27 grams in 12 oz. with a coarser grind, pre-wet out of habit, and a conservative agitation of the grounds.

Has anyone "been there, done that" and have any recommendations or technique they would be willing to share?

Does anyone experience taste differences with pre-wet vs no pre-wet (I don't), or is it basically theater for this type of brew process?

If I'm taking something simple and making it too difficult, feel free to tell me to f'o'.
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Postby Keith on Wed Dec 12, 2007 5:46 pm

are you stirring clockwise or counterclockwise? and at what elevation? :D

my morning chemex ritual includes preheating the chemex and wetting the filter, although I have not found a difference when I did not. I use 85 grams for 40 ounces so I am using a little less coffee per ounce than you but I am using a standard drip grind. I prewet the grounds and let them bloom for 30 seconds or so and then stir them as i pour more water in, After that I dont stir, just pour and let the cone drain out each time before I add more water till it is to the top. Then i transfer it to a thermal carafe for the morning house coffee...
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Postby scottlucey on Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:35 pm

i'm itching to try the white filters. the element that i've been unsatisfied with as of late has been that paper taste, even with the rinse.

yes,
i've been there done that as well. try as many variations as you can, keep notes, be accurate on weights/grind/volume, and you're come to your own conclusions. same goes for the Eva Solo.
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Re: Chemex techniques

Postby Rich Westerfield on Thu Dec 13, 2007 6:27 am

Matthew Brinski wrote:I seem to be happy with my dose on the high side. I have been running Guatemalans from Stumptown and Alterra at 27 grams in 12 oz. with a coarser grind, pre-wet out of habit, and a conservative agitation of the grounds.


We've never gone that high so I guess it's something to try - although we admittedly have never used a Chemex for brewing fewer than four cups 24oz). We train on the Sweet Maria's method (tastes good to us), which is twice the dose of the Chemex instructions. And you're doing ~2x the SM dose. Is that the same dose you'd use in a press?

As far as the pre-wetting/stirring/etc., we are training on those techniques with any brewers that use a drip (or press) method where it's viable (including Technivorms). Haven't measured anything metrics but taste, however, it certainly "seems" that trying to ensure all grounds are saturated equally does do something positive for the cup.

This is topical for us as I finally got around to adding instructions on how to use everything we sell to our training binder. It's only been three years to get there :roll:
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Re: Chemex techniques

Postby Jason Haeger on Thu Dec 13, 2007 11:07 am

Matthew Brinski wrote:
I seem to be happy with my dose on the high side. I have been running Guatemalans from Stumptown and Alterra at 27 grams in 12 oz. with a coarser grind, pre-wet out of habit, and a conservative agitation of the grounds.


This looks like Simon's "Aroma" technique for the TCA-2 applied to the Chemex.

I think the fact that the chemex filters already offer an increased dwell time (certainly more than the mentioned brew technique) imply to me that maybe a higher dose and coarser grind isn't necessarily the optimum parameters.

But it's been awhile since I've used a Chemex, and I can't experiment to determine much more than speculation at the moment, so take that as an external proverbial evaluation, and nothing more.
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Postby Matthew Brinski on Thu Dec 13, 2007 1:34 pm

Keith wrote:are you stirring clockwise or counterclockwise? and at what elevation? :D



I stir counterclockwise unless the phase of the moon is a waxing gibbous.

I know you made light of elevation, but that is problematic for me regarding brew temp. - I'm at 8,500 ft. - it much more of a PITA than dealing with altitude troubles in Colorado Springs or Denver.
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Re: Chemex techniques

Postby Matthew Brinski on Thu Dec 13, 2007 1:41 pm

Rich Westerfield wrote: We train on the Sweet Maria's method (tastes good to us), which is twice the dose of the Chemex instructions. And you're doing ~2x the SM dose. Is that the same dose you'd use in a press?



I know it's a higher than standard dose, but I am honestly getting some good results. Having said that, I have not necessarily settled on that particlar dose and grind. Regarding FP, I am using 21 grams for a 12 ounce brew.

Aside from dose, I'm really curious about what people are doing or not doing regarding agitation and the like. Thanks for your response, Rich.
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Postby Stephen Morrissey on Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:00 pm

I was instructed to use boiling water when brewing on a chemex, and haven't noticed an inferior taste.

I tend to agitate more by how I pour the water in than any other method.
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Postby sarah kluth on Tue Dec 18, 2007 10:36 am

i use the chemex quite frequently for generating coffee descriptors for new crops or blends and i love it so very much.
i use 69g for a yielded amount of 32oz. pre-wet the filter (and yes, scott lucey, i can tell a difference between the au naturale and the bleached - i prefer the bleached) place the tri-layered side on the spouted side of the carafe (i tend to be obsessive compulsive)and place the grounds in. my grind setting is rather coarse, almost a french press grind. i find that using water straight off the boil produces bitterness in the brew, so i use it at 96 centigrade. i do an initial pre-wet, allowing the grounds to puff up a bit. once they start falling, i begin the actual brewing pour and a gentle agitation with a spoon, similar to that of breaking a crust while cupping. once all the grounds have been completely exposed to water, i continue pouring without stirring.
i am also obsessive about keeping the water level the same during the entire extraction so as not to compromise the brewing temp. so, once my brewed level is at 32oz, i remove the filter (still full of water).
i do notice a difference when i don't pre-wet the filter. it can give coffees a slight parchment taste - at least, in my experience.

but yes, i heart the chemex. i heart it a lot. it would be my deserted island brewing mechanism. especially with that mod wooden belt. yeah.
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Postby James Hoffmann on Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:39 pm

I use the bleached filters too (tri-layer forward of course) and also find the taste of an unwetted filter paper unpleasant. I tend to run a fair bit of hot water through mine (figuring that the hot water should be better than cold water at taking out the tastes I don't want)

I tend to do some pre-wetting and then pour as much as I need (which is usually 400-500ml depending on my level of coffee thirst) though I confess that once the scale hits the desired weight I stop pouring and tend to wander off (filter full of water is too messy/I am too lazy to do otherwise)

Never really got a spoon involved - tend to use the water itself.

(I use 60g per litre, just coarser than press grind)
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Postby aaronblanco on Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:42 pm

Nice tip with the hot water filter rinse, James. That's a "next level" tip for me.

I use 10g per 6 fl oz (regardless of quantity) and a medium-ish grind, slightly to the coarse side. Water at ~92C. I slowly pre-wet a donut like circle in the coffee hill I create in the filter--leaving a small dry rim outside and an island hill inside--and let it sit/bloom for ~45 seconds. After that it's slow pour only for agitation (no stirring with a device) around the island until it "floats." I never fully water down the island under the hypothesis that grounds with different levels of solubles dissolved may produce a more complex range of flavor. Eventually gravity overcomes the dry hill and when all the water has drained it looks like a bullseye in the grounds. Total dwell time 4:00--4:30.

I spoke with the folks at Chemex and they say the white filters are not bleached. They called it something like "oxygen rinsed." I tried to draw out the nice lady for more info on this but that's all she had. But she was pretty firm that it wasn't bleach. (?) Anyone else heard of that?
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Postby Jason Haeger on Thu Dec 20, 2007 2:17 am

Sounds a bit like "oxyclean" to me.

It doesn't sound far-fetched at all, though I'm not sure how it would compare to bleach in terms of "flavor" reduction.
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Postby Tim Dominick on Thu Dec 20, 2007 9:21 am

Hydrogen Peroxide is used to bleach paper products intended for foodservice usage. Perhaps this is what she was talking about?
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Postby barry on Thu Dec 20, 2007 10:28 am

I think perhaps the confusion is in the term "bleach", which, for us older type folks, almost always refers to chlorine based bleaches.
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Postby scottlucey on Fri Dec 21, 2007 7:40 am

sarah kluth wrote: it would be my deserted island brewing mechanism. especially with that mod wooden belt. yeah.


what's your deserted island grinder?
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Postby Jason Haeger on Fri Dec 21, 2007 10:51 am

scottlucey wrote:
sarah kluth wrote: it would be my deserted island brewing mechanism. especially with that mod wooden belt. yeah.


what's your deserted island grinder?

You can get by with a couple of rocks.
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