Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About The Chemex
Invention And History
The Chemex, invented in 1941, was arguably the first coffeemaker to emphasize form alongside function. Created by chemist Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, it was intended to be a work of art as well as an effective tool. (He referred to them as “Beautilities.”) Schlumbohm wanted to reimagine the perfect cup of coffee—to strip this basic act down to its very essentials and reshape it from the ground up—and this began with design.
Training As A Barista
While it might look simple, not just anyone can make a killer latté—it requires training, patience and craftsmanship. And executing a successful pour-over coffee is an exercise in patience and technique. And that’s where a modern education as a barista comes in. Today’s coffee culture has created a market for high-quality, labor-intensive coffee-making ability. While landing a job in a café was once as simple as filling out an application and a good smile, employment as a barista is now a respected, full-time profession.
Coffee Festivals and Tastings
It’s safe to say that coffee—the world’s most popular beverage—has its share of fans. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that the popularity of the coffee festival has grown to the point that many cities (New York, London, Tokyo, Istanbul and St. Petersburg to name a few) now host their own distinctive coffee festival. Predictably, many of these events claim to hold the honor of “world’s biggest coffee festival.”
Pour Over Brewing
Hand poured coffee, like so many activities, was once the only method of brewing coffee. Then coffee machines were invented, and people were eager to get the machines to do the work for them. Now, interestingly, in a quest for integrity and quality, we are creeping back in the other direction. Pour over coffee, a method begun in 1900s Germany but mostly imported from Japan, has caught on like wildfire among U.S. artisanal coffee drinkers because of three essential aspects: flavor, process and story.
What is the Vacuum Pot?
The vacuum pot (also called the vac pot or siphon) method of brewing coffee is one of the oldest techniques still in use today—beautiful with its ornate design and sleek glassware. It revolutionized nineteenth-century coffeemaking in Europe after its invention in Germany in 1830. Much like the Chemex brewer, it fell out of favor in the mid-20th century for what came to be seen as unnecessary requirements in brewing: patience, practice and a steep learning curve. However, also like the Chemex, the vacuum pot is now enjoying something of a renaissance among fans of artisanal coffee.
The Psychology of Drinking Coffee
Whether you know it or not, coffee affects your psyche and sense of identity in powerful ways. The influence of coffee is felt on chemical, emotional and physical levels; it’s also highly psychological.
Classic French Press Brewing Method
Of all the different coffee brewing methods, perhaps one of the most enduring is the classic French press, also known as the cafetiere or press pot. It’s the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich of coffee brewers—dependable, utilitarian and affordable. Now ubiquitous in homes across the world, the French press actually has quite a convoluted past, including its invention—by an Italian, technically.
Coffee And Marriage
Caffeine goes with coffee like sugar goes with chocolate: generally, though not always, hand in hand. This becomes problematic when one half of a marriage depends on caffeine for a morning jolt, while the other half is driven to distraction by even 50 milligrams (the approximate amount contained in half a cup of coffee) of the drug. Caffeine, after all, affects people in different ways—some metabolize it slowly, some quickly. Which category a person falls into is determined by enzymes in the liver, which in turn are determined by genetics.
Aeropress—A New Classic Brew Technique
As contemporary as the vacuum pot is classic, the Aeropress is manufactured by the company that brought the world the Aerobie flying ring. It unabashedly embraces 21st century materials and design, and is a triumph of modern production. For around $30, the Aeropress can actually compete with thousand-dollar Italian coffee machines in terms of flavor. It’s been on the market since only 2005; it makes both American drip coffee and espresso; and it brews outstanding coffee in about a minute.