Brewing Lecture: Chemex & Aeropress

Photo by Doris Lau.

Photo by Doris Lau.

At NYU, many of our fellow students claim that they “couldn’t survive without coffee” and might even have one or more cups a day, brewed in their dorm room or picked up on the way to a morning lecture.  And of course, our mission at the Coffee Club is to bring a greater understanding to coffee-lovers and skeptics of where your coffee comes from, how it gets to your cup and how and why certain kinds taste better than others. With the Fall semester in full swing, we hosted our first lecture event with Erik Becker from Brooklyn-based roaster Café Grumpy to give some background, tips and recipes for brewing on an Aeropress or Chemex.

Chemex History

Starting with the Chemex, Erik Becker, Barista Trainer at Café Grumpy, walked us through the invention and history of this device, created in 1940 but making a comeback in recent years. Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, developed the product for it’s simple beauty and functionality, as a way to have freshly brewed coffee every day. It is featured among some of his many other inventions in MoMA, today.  The Chemex was designed to be ergonomic, a center or conversation piece, and a way to brew multiple cups of coffee at home, at a time. After WW2, the Americans’ increasing value of convenience and draw to Mr. Coffee led to the abandonment of the Chemex’s slower and more tedious brew process. While Mr. Coffee did deface the value and experience provided by the Chemex, it opened up the market, introducing and making coffee accessible to all.  In the 90s, when the wave of specialty coffee began taking off, the Chemex made a comeback and now holds as one of the most popular home-brew methods for specialty coffee. 

Photo by Doris Lau.

Photo by Doris Lau.

Aeropress History

A newer product invented by Alan Adler, known for his invention of the Aerobie Pro flying disk, that holds the world record for farthest object thrown.  Adler was interested in a brew method that could make a single cup of coffee at a time and through his own research and some suggestions from the coffee community, he was able to create the Aeropress in 2005.  Unlike the Chemex, which is made of glass and uses a pour over style of brewing, the Aeropress is composed of two plastic cylinders that use immersion brewing, meaning the coffee grounds are immersed in water while brewing, as opposed to water flowing through the grounds, as in the Chemex.

Despite the many differences and years between these two devices, both are great options to be used to brew coffee before your class in the morning.  Erik even shared his recipes with us!

Photo by Doris Lau.

Photo by Doris Lau.

Chemex Brewing Guide

Yields: 2 12oz cups of coffee

Ratio: 645g water, 45g coffee grounds

materials

  • Coarsely ground, freshly roasted coffee
  • Paper filter
  • Gram scale
  • Timer
  • Kettle, electric or tea kettle, one spout can give you a more controlled pour

Tips

  • Place paper filter (positioned so 3 folds are on the same side as the spout)

  • Wet the filter with your boiled water to ensure there will be no air gaps, and then pour out that water from the opposite side of the spout
  • Use your phone as a timer and pay attention to how long your brew time is (this can let you know if your grind is too coarse or too fine)

Photo by Doris Lau.

Photo by Doris Lau.

Aeropress

Yields: 1 8oz cup of coffee

Ratio: 17g water, 455g coffee grounds

materials

  • Finely ground, freshly roasted coffee
  • A strong cup (you will be pushing on it with your Aeropress, ie. no paper cups!)
  • Gram scale
  • Timer
  • Kettle, electric tea kettle
  • tick, spoon or knife (to stir after first pour to make sure all grounds are saturated)  

Tips

  • There is no “one set way” or “best way” of brewing on an Aeropress, many people have their own recipe that they claim is best. Experiment and find yours!
Photo by Doris Lau.

Photo by Doris Lau.

Thank you so much to Erik, Café Grumpy and to everyone who came out to our first event of the semester. Stay tuned, we’re so excited to continue to spread the good word about good coffee!