Know-How: Advanced Equipment

If you’re reading our final Know-How article, it probably means that you’ve made it! *pun intended* Whether it’s out of curiosity to learn something new or because you’ve mastered other techniques and want to level up, we’re excited to tell you about some fun and technically precise brewing methods.

In this post: find the most simple ways to use a Chemex, Siphon and Espresso Machine to boost your daily brewing with flavour and technique.

Chemex

The Chemex is about two main things – the filter and the timing. Which is why we highly suggest getting the right type of filter paper and scales and a timer. Here’s everything you need to do in between:

  • Boil water. You can go up to 90-96 degrees, if you’re measuring it. Once it reaches boiling level, turn it off and let it stay as is till the bubbling settles down.
  • Grind whole beans of coffee to retain maximum flavour and aroma. If not, get a pre- ground coffee that’s ideal for a chemex or a medium coarse grind size.
  • Place the filter cone on the chemex brewer with the three fold of the filter paper resting across the spout of the chemex. This will ensure that the spout does not get blocked while brewing and in turn does not stall your brew.
  • Wet the filter paper ideally with hot water so that the filter sitcks to the sides of the chemex and the filter is free of any paper residue which might impart a papery taste to the coffee.
  • Get rid of the water in the chemex
  • Add the ground coffee to the filter. Gently shake the chemex to level off the coffee.
  • Pour water about 2.5 to 3.5 times the weight of the coffee in a circular motion to completely wet the coffee. You’ll notice the coffee bed rising and bubbling up which is the process of blooming. Wait for 30-45seconds for the coffee bed to settle before you resume brewing.
  • Secondary pours – Once again, the remaining pours depends on the coffee and recipe you are using. Here is our standard recipe that we normally start off with.

Coffee : Water – 1:16 gms ( 1 part coffee, 16 parts water)

Water for blooming – 1:3 gms ( 1 part coffee, 3 parts water)

Bloom time- 30-45 Sec

1st pour- 2/3rds of the total total water in 30 secs

Wait for 15 secs or till the water in the filter has gone down by about half the original height.

Pour the remaining 1/3rd of the water in 30secs.

Swirl the chemex by holding it by the collar.

Pro Tip: At the end check if the coffee bed is nice and flat. This is a good indication that the coffee was extracted more evenly.

Siphon

A theatrical, more involved process and a great way to treat yourself or your guests – the Siphon is a very cool piece of equipment to own. It may look confusing but the brewing principle is super easy. It uses a vacuum effect to give you a full bodied cup of coffee.

The Siphon has 3 main components – the bottom beaker, the top beaker and the burner. All three usually come together when you purchase the equipment. Here’s all you need to do:

Light my fire

  • The filter goes into the top beaker and needs to go in first. Push it all the way in and pull the string at the bottom to secure it.
  • We recommend adding hot water i.e water that has just been boiled to the bottom beaker to save time. We recommend a ratio of 1:15 so for every one gram of coffee, you add 15 grams of water. Adjust this as per your taste.
  • Once you’ve added the water, place the top beaker on the bottom and secure it.
  • Turn on the burner and wait for the water to boil.

Build me up

  • While this is happening, grind your coffee. A medium coarse blend will be perfect which you would ideally use for a V60 or a similar brew method. You can also purchase the coffee and mention the equipment type so you get the right texture.
  • As the water boils, you’ll notice it moving upwards into the top beaker. This is due to the difference in the pressure between the top and bottom chambers. There will always be a little bit left behind but most of it gets transferred.
  • Add the coffee into the top beaker and stir it in a circular motion for 30 seconds or 7-10 times. Let it brew.

Bring me down

  • Allow the coffee to brew for 60-90 seconds. Turn off the flame and watch it go back down into the bottom beaker.
  • The change in temperature creates a vacuum which initiates the downward transfer also commonly referred to as the draw down. Wait for the entire liquid to shift to the bottom beaker.
  • Remove the top beaker and serve!

Pro Tip: Try to grind as fine as possible till you hit a point where the coffee particles start to find its way though the filter into the bottom chamber. At that point go back a notch so as to get the most extraction out of the coffee.

Espresso Machine

The fanciest of them all and one that you’re likely to own if you’re either super serious about your coffee or aren’t too fussed about the technique but still want a solid cup. There are several types of espresso machines available so we’re going to give you the most basic steps that apply to most types.

  • Add room temperature water into the reservoir and turn on the machine. Some indicate the levels for a single or double shot so fill it up accordingly.
  • For an espresso we recommend a ratio of 1:1.5- 1:2.5 but ideally begin with a ratio of 1:2, its easier to navigate your way around this starting point.
  • While you’re waiting, prepare your coffee using the portafilter. These also usually have indicators for single or double shot so add the coffee as per what’s indicated.
  • We always suggest using freshly ground coffee. Grind really fine and the coffee must feel fluffy and similar to a flour ( a bit coarse than the consistency of flour). However some machines come with the coffee grinder included. If not, you can always use previously ground coffee as well.
  • Preparation of the coffee bed can make or break your expresso shot. Once you have added the coffee into the portafilter distribute it evenly and tamp it down using a tamper. Apply a substantial amount of pressure so as to compact the bed well.
  • Attach the portafilter to the machine’s spout. Ensure it’s attached properly. Place a cup below this to collect your brew. If permissible place a set of weighing scales to measure the final brew weight
  • Add that’s it! Press the on or shot button (depending on the machine).
  • Press the button once again to stop the brew once you have achieved your desired brew weight.

You are now certified in the art of different brewing methods! We’d love to hear what your favourite kind was and if you have any tips that you use while making your daily grind. Let us know in the comments or on Instagram!

Image credit: Karl Friedrickson, Tim St. Martin, Joey Huang and Kristian Ryan Aliman on Unsplash.

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