How to Brew
The Recommended Six
Chemex: Considered by many to be the teapot of the coffee world, A Chemex provides a highly aromatic, light-bodied cup of coffee. Utilizing thicker paper filters, coarser grinds, yet the same brew time as heavier-bodied pourover devices, the Chemex is best paired with coffees that are typically described as light, floral, or fruity.
Grind: Coarse, though not as coarse as a French press
Brew time: 2:30 – 3:30. This includes a 20-30 second “Bloom” period in which you allow the coffee to de-gas.
Preferred ratio: 1:15 (typically, 27 grams of coffee to 405 grams of water.)
V60: Most, if not all, specialty coffee shops are intimately familiar with the v60 by Hario. And, it’s for a good reason; this is the most consistently “even keel” of the pourover devices currently on the market today –it’s simple to use, yet difficult to master, and does a fantastic job of really honoring the beans you’re using while highlighting their unique profiles. While we’ll recommend specific beans for other brew processes, the v60 is a versatile contraption that is capable of producing a great cup of coffee with beans found all over the world.
Grind: Can vary a couple of clicks depending on the beans you’re using, yet it typically does best to start dead center (or on your “drip” setting).
Brew Time: 2:30 – 3:30. This includes a 15-30 second “bloom” in which you allow the coffee to de-gas before starting to brew.
Preferred Ratio: This one is tricky. Remember that whole “hard to master” thing? This is where a lot of that comes in. Standard ratios for a v60 are 1:14, 1:15, and 1:16, yet can vary wildly from person to person. We’d recommend you try one of those three out until you get used to the pour before experimenting to find your perfect cup!
Clever: The beginning of the “immersion brew” type systems, the Clever is a, well, fairly clever little device that can be used for coffee or tea. Immersion brewers bring a lot of body to your coffee, though can sacrifice some of the flavor depending on the beans you’re using. We’d recommend something a bit bolder in these types of devices – coffees like our Taman Dadar Java, Sumatra Wahana, or our Costa Rica Tarrazu that have a bit more body naturally and can stand up to the longer soak.
Grind: Coarse. Medium grind – about what you would use for a drip setting or a pour over. Brew Time: Four minutes.
Preferred Ratio: 1:17. Typically, 24 grams of coffee to 408 grams of water.
What’s the difference between a Clever and a French Press?
We thought we’d add this little aside, as both devices utilize immersion in order to brew your coffee. The difference, once you see the two devices, is pretty clear: the French Press uses nothing but the device itself to brew your coffee, while the Clever still has a filter (like the Chemex, the v60, and even your “Auto-Drip” coffee makers). This means that, while it does add some body to the coffee, the Clever won’t produce as heavy of a brew as the French Press – and also prevents a lot of the grinds from inevitably showing up in your cup, unlike it’s Parisian brother from another mother.
French Press: The fancy little brew device you never knew was fancy, because so many grandparents, parents, and other assorted elders all smile fondly of their childhood when they see these pressurized little immersion chambers and typically exclaim “hey, that’s how my (insert ancestor here) always brewed coffee!”
Well, the French press has undergone a bit of a resurgence in popular culture lately, and for good reason; it makes a damned good, heavy cup of coffee. It’s also one of the best devices for creating the ever-famous Café Au Lait – a drink of steamed or hot milk and dark roast coffee (or chicory dark roast, if you’re here in the south). While a lot of subtle flavors and notes are washed away with its five-minute immersion brew, this device is the “no-muss, no-fuss, this cup just needs to have caffeine” go-to for college kids and parents alike (aside from your standard Mr. Coffee) but, pair it with the right coffee? Something Indonesian and/or grown in volcanic ash, perhaps? And you’ll have a magically smoky, wood-filled cup of coffee that pairs well with lighter desserts or your favorite brown liquor of choice.
Grind: Coarse as all get out. There’s a reason why most grinders have a “French press” setting. Brew Time: Five minutes from close to press
Preferred Ratio: 1:17. Typically, 40 grams of coffee to 680 grams of water (for a 2-cup French press)
Siphon: Much like the French press, this device produces an incredibly heavy, almost viscous cup of coffee.
But, unlike the French press, this isn’t your grandma’s brew device; the siphon, with its propane (or butane) burner and multi-chamber assembly, looks like something you’d find in Heisenberg’s laboratory and will make every parent unsure of your recreational activities once they see it. But, master the delicate procedure for brewing in this contraption and you’ll be able to produce a lovely, full-bodied cup of coffee that isn’t as prone to dilution of subtle flavors as its French cousin. Much like its aesthetics, the siphon is incredibly fun to experiment with. Try a variety of coffees in it; you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how well it handles them.
Grind: Medium-fine. Somewhere between espresso and dead center.
Brew time: Varies a bit based on which heating element you’re using, but typically around 4-5 minutes total time.
Preferred ratio: 1:17. Typically, 34 grams of coffee to 578 grams of water
Aeropress: Considered by some to be the “poor man’s espresso machine,” the Aeropress is a versatile little device capable of being utilized in ways to produce concentrated coffee drinks, Americano-style beverages (when diluted with hot water or ice), or “pour over” coffees a la the v60. By turning it different ways, using various ratios, and plunging it softer or harder you can produce different strengths of coffee suited to your tastes. Like its espresso counterpart, the Aeropress works with most coffees and can produce an incredibly flavor-filled cup with lots of body and/or acidity depending on the bean you’re using. It’s a bit harder to master than most devices but, once you get the hang of it, the Aeropress could live up to the quote of “It’s the best coffee maker I’ve ever owned!” that is emblazoned on every box sold.
Grind: Can vary depending on the strength of coffee you’d like, but typically a medium grind is used.
Brew Time: Like the ratio, varies wildly depending on what kind of coffee you’d like your Aeropress to produce. Anywhere from 45 seconds (concentrate) to 3 minutes and 30 seconds (standard pour over).
Preferred Ratio: Varies.
- A concentrate? 1:12. Typically, 20 grams of coffee to 240 grams of water.
- A pourover? 1:17. Typically, 24g of coffee to 408 grams of water.