A Guide to Brewing Coffee with the Chemex & Kone Methods
I need to admit something. I have a serious problem when it comes to drinking coffee. Half of it has to do with the fact that I am obsessive over the things I enjoy and the other half is due to me being an out and out caffeine addict.
It all started about six years ago when my grandma gave me her old drip coffee machine. I can’t really remember how I started drinking coffee but I think it was one of those things I just decided that I should be doing. I had just moved into my apartment and it seemed like a very adult thing to do.
When my grandma handed me the coffee machine she made an offhand remark “oh, it has a gold filter so you don’t ever need to buy the paper ones”. Intrigued, I looked into why this would be a feature. What I found was that there were two benefits to a gold filter
- Over the lifetime of the product there would be a cost savings versus buying paper filters
- The gold filter enhanced the taste of the coffee by removing the paper taste that a lot of paper filters impart
Now, being the obsessive person that I am, this offhand comment sent me on a journey. I kept exploring ways to make my coffee better. You can see my previous posts about how to roast your own coffee, how to grind it properly and select the correct water for brewing and the best method for French press.
Over the years, my coffee making methods have advanced and I have finally reached the point where I can go no further without buying machines that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Below I am going to share with you my absolute favorite ways to brew coffee.
I have created a list of coffee tools on Amazon if you want to go check it out right now. Otherwise, let’s plow bravely ahead.
This method of brewing makes a light-bodied cup of coffee that really accentuates the high notes of the beans. You should use this method when you have a light-to-medium roasted coffee, particularly when it is sourced from Africa. These coffees typically have fruity notes and they take really well to the Chemex.
What makes this method unique is the filter. It is made with a thick paper that removes a lot of the oils from the coffee as it is brewed which is what gives the final cup of coffee a light body.
Your grind for this method of brewing should be relatively coarse. Below is a picture comparing the grind to different sized objects to give you a visual reference. The ideal ratio here is about 60 g of coffee per liter of water. So, if you want a 16oz cup of coffee you would use 30g of water and 500ml of water. Water has a weight of 1 g/ml so 500g of water is equal to 500ml. If you haven’t already bought one, head over to Amazon and pick up a gram scale to save your sanity.
The temperature of the water should be between 195-205o F which you can set precisely if you have the bonavita kettle. If you just have a boiling kettle and a pouring kettle, add heated water to the pouring kettle to preheat it. When the water is done boiling pour it out and fill it with boiled water. This should bring the water temperature down to the ideal range. While you are preheating things, go ahead and preheat your awesome mug. Don’t have an awesome mug? Grab one here.
Set the filter into the brewer, making sure that the side with a triple layer is facing the groove in the brewer. Wet the filter so that it sticks to the brewer and you can flush some of the paper taste out of it. Empty the water from the vessel before adding in the ground coffee.
Add the coffee grounds and give them a shake so that they sit evenly in the brewer. Add double the weight of water to the coffee grounds, starting in the center and working your way to the exterior. Below, I started with 40g of ground coffee and so I added 80g of water. Set a timer and let the coffee bloom for 30 seconds. (Ignore the sudden change to the Kone filter)
Once you reach thirty seconds you can begin to pour the remainder of the water. Pour the water slowly and steadily starting from the middle and going in circles towards the edge of the brewer. Avoid pouring water directly on the sides of the brewer, staying about ¼ of an inch from the sides at all times.
The process for pouring the remainder of the water should take about 2 minutes. Let the rest of the water drain from the brewer. The whole process should take about 4-5 minutes. If the brew stalls, give the grounds a stir with a spoon. When you are done pouring you should have a nice, white foam on the top of the water.
This is by far my favorite way to make a cup of coffee. Before I bought the filter, the Chemex was my favorite because of the flavors it brought out of the coffee. However, I did not like the light body of the final cup of coffee. This filter fixes that. As you can see in the pictures above, the Kone filter simply replaces the paper filter of the Chemex so a second brew vessel does not need to be purchased.
The Kone filter lets more oils through to the final cup of coffee so the resultant cup has much more body than the standard Chemex. However, it still accentuates all of the notes that the Chemex does so you get a cup with full body and great taste.
The method is almost the exact same as making the Chemex with the major difference being the grind size. Because this filter uses tiny holes as opposed to the thick paper filter of the Chemex, the grind needs to be finer to slow the brewing process and ensure a proper brew time. The grind size is pictured below.
The process for the Kone is the exact same as the Chemex. The final brew time will be between 3-4 minutes and that is the only thing you need to keep in mind.
Honing Your Brew
I can show you pictures of the grind but that will only get you an approximate size for your coffee. The fact remains that we will have different grinders and so I can’t give you an objective ‘best’ setting. Here are some tips to making your cup of coffee perfect:
- Astringency: if your coffee is astringent (when you drink it you can feel a release of saliva in the back of your mouth) your coffee is being under-extracted and you need to make your grind finer
- Bitterness: if your coffee is bitter then it is being over-extracted and you need to make your grind more coarse
I hope you found this guide useful and you are now motivated to make a kick-ass cup of coffee. Stop spending money on the terrible coffee you get at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts and start making it at home. Over the life of your brewer, you will save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
If you are ready to dive into the deep end with coffee, head over to Amazon and look at the list that I have curated.