With the influx of third wave coffee, we are being introduced to some pretty cool, though often more traditional than we realize, brewing methods. One of the more frequently touted methods is Chemex. A Chemex coffee brewer is a glass vase-like vessel that is made of heavy-duty glass molded into a cone shape. These come in a few different varieties, including models featuring a wooden collar and a conformed handle, typically starting at around $40. The Chemex takes a special filter that is thicker than most coffee filters that strain out the impurities in the coffee that is being brewed. The method involves coarsely grinding the beans right before brewing then pouring hot water over the grounds using a kettle. The result is one of the more pure and clean tasting cups of coffee you will ever experience. This is a very detailed method carried out with precision involving specific coffee to water ratio.
Waste Not, Want Not
So why purchase ground coffee after investing in quality brewing equipment and spending the time to exact a perfect cup of coffee? It sort of defeats the whole purpose. Understandably, ground coffee is a convenience. We live in a very fast-paced world where waiting 5 minutes in a fast food lane is too long. We get that. However, coffee is an experience that should not be compromised. The brewing equipment that you have so diligently spent hours researching, and the perfect coffee beans you have scoured all over town for should not be wasted in vain.
Ground coffee has a shelf life of less than a week. As soon as it was ground the chemical makeup of the bean began breaking down, thus causing the flavor and aroma to weaken. Whole beans can stay fresh for up to 2 weeks but no longer than 4 to 5 weeks. In their whole bean form, they are able to retain their flavor profile that makes the bean unique. When stored properly in a cool, dark place – ideally a cupboard or cabinet in an airtight container – the coffee is at its peak.
Get a Grinder
If you are just getting into the manual brewing methods, having a grinder is a non-negotiable. To create the freshest cup of coffee possible, a grinder is the missing link. While it’s understandable that not everyone can afford a commercial burr grinder that coffee shops use, a hand grinder works just as well and produces a near identical effect. You can pick up a hand grinder at your local department store for around $15 to $20, depending on brand. It may be difficult at first to train yourself to grind your own beans; there’s no denying that the habit of just digging a scoop into your pre-ground bag of coffee will be a hard one to break. However, after a week or so of drinking the freshest coffee, you will soon see the advantages of using a grinder and it will become your most used appliance and best friend.