I’ve been kind of sloppy in my coffee making lately. It hasn’t hasn’t tasted rich enough and then when cream is added it just tastes, well, like cream. So last night I set out to brew the perfect cup.
Brew The Perfect Cup: Thoughts and Math (yes math!)
The actual Chemex directions say to use one rounded tablespoon to every one 8 oz. cup of coffee-so if you’re wanting to brew a full pot that would be 6 rounded tablespoons of coffee and however much water it takes to fill it. Other sites and forums recommend a 1:16 ratio for brewing Chemex coffee. i.e. 1 cup of water to 1 tablespoon coffee for instance.
The first step in my quest to brew the perfect cup was to do some math.
I tared my scale with my measuring cup and then weighed two cups of water. The scale read out at 470 grams-that was my ‘1’ in the ratio. (Why two cups you might ask? No other reason than my glass 2 cup measuring cup was a good tool for dipping boiling water out of a stock pot.)
After doing the math I got:
- 1:14 – 470 grams water to 34 grams coffee
- 1:16 – 470 grams water to 29 grams coffee
- 1:18 – 470 grams water to 26 grams coffee
Tip: If you would like to try other ratios the formula to use is x=470/n where x=amount of coffee and n=the ratio you are trying to solve for. Yes, sometimes you do use algebra as an adult.
To start I filled a stockpot with water and turned the heat to high to get it boiling. While the water was heating up I ground the coffee in my little burr mill. I don’t have anything fancy, but it works for me. Plus it’s a good arm workout! The beans I used in this experiment were Peet’s Coffee: Major Dickason’s Blend. Always use whole beans, the fresher the better.
I put a small glass bowl on my digital scale, tared it, then added the coffee until I had the correct amount. I then placed the grounds in the filter.
Normally I would preheat the Chemex and rinse the filter, but I was doing coffee assembly line style, so the Chemex was already hot and I wasn’t taking the time to rinse.
Once the water was boiling I dipped out two cups then poured them in my gooseneck kettle. Believe the hype, a gooseneck kettle makes pourover easier. I poured just enough water over the grounds to get them wet then waited 30-45 seconds for the grounds to bloom. After the time was up I slowly poured the rest of the water in. When the water was just dripping out of the tip of the filter every couple seconds I removed it and poured the coffee into a preheated mug.
I decided the 1:18 ratio was the best tasting to me. 1:14 tasted bitter. 1:16 was ok. 1:18 tasted better. I can understand why too much coffee didn’t taste good, but why less didn’t? Who knows? Everyone likes different things. There are lots of factors I didn’t measure like water temperature, precise bloom and brew times-but I know first thing in the morning I am never going to be that picky when I just want a cup of coffee.
So for me, I now know to brew the perfect cup I need to follow these measurements:
- 26g ground coffee
- 1141g finished weight (chemex + filter + 470g water + 26g coffee= 1141g)
This experiment took less than an hour and I think it is a worthwhile thing to do to learn your preference for a great tasting cup of coffee. Also don’t forget to take notes. Maybe not every day, but if something turns out really well, document it! It’s easier to try to recreate with even a little bit of information rather than just your memory.