Fed up with inconsistent results, I spent the morning fiddling with my coffee apparatus. I have come to the following conclusions:

  1. Making good coffee is not difficult per se;
  2. however, mixing imperial units of liquid volume and metric units of mass is a pain in the ass.

I use a Chemex 8-cup coffee maker (with official Chemex™ filters, natch); a Capresso burr grinder; an electric kettle and, now that I’m getting all scientific, a scale. My beans are delivered relatively freshly roasted (< 1 wk) by Blue Bottle, which is a silly luxury, considering that I do most of my brewing in Toronto.

Through the laborious application of MATH, I have created a formula that results in a very good pot of coffee:

  1. Heat 1.1l of water to 200°F (yeah, yeah, but my kettle only has imperial temperature settings);
  2. with the grinder on the Medium coarseness + 1 click setting, grind for three seconds or so;
  3. moisten a Chemex brand Chemex™ filter in hot water and put it into the Chemex, with three layers towards the spout1;
  4. transfer 33g of ground coffee to the filter;
  5. once the water reaches 200°, pour a small amount over the grounds, to let them “bloom” in what is undoubtedly an exercise in magicial thinking;
  6. wait 30 seconds;
  7. pour the remaining liter or so of water into the Chemex.

This produces a fine cup of coffee, although you’ll need to put it into something insulated, or drink eight cups of coffee very quickly2. And now you know much more than you probably care to about how I spend twenty minutes every morning.

Yes, it takes considerably more time and effort than a K-Cup machine; however, as I am not really time-constrained in the morning, and I like ritualistic behaviors, I find it an enjoyable way to start my day. It also results in enough coffee to share, and I think it tastes better than any automatic machine I’ve tried. In addition, we have an Aeropress, but I rarely want just a single cup of coffee, and – more importantly – I don’t find that it does that great a job, compared to the pour-over.

I suppose the next logical step is roasting my own beans, but I haven’t gotten there yet. I am not doing this for cost saving reasons, so I am willing to trade money for the time and hassle (and, let’s be honest, stink) of someone else roasting the coffee for me.


  1. A Chemex brand Chemex™ filter is a square sheet of filter paper folded twice; it forms a square with four layers, so you separate it into a sort of cup with three folds on one side and one on the other.

  2. Not recommended.