The Art and Science of Chemex

The Art and Science of Chemex

When the sun rises and it’s time to brew a fresh cup, coffee drinkers probably don’t think of themselves as artistic chemists. But that became true for chemex users back in 1941 when a German chemist named Peter J. Schlumbohm Ph.D. (pronouncing his last name might require some caffeine) used the basic design and function of laboratory funnels and flasks to invent the chemex, a laboratory grade drip coffeemaker. Since then, chemex has been recognized for its excellent design by museums like the Smithsonian, the Corning Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and is known as one of the most elegant brewing methods in the world. Chemex calls for basic coffee-making ingredients: hot water, filter paper, and, of course, coffee. But unlike your average “joe” machine, chemex allows you to have direct control over the body and flavor of your cup. It offers a more hands-on brewing experience than other brewing methods, allowing you to personally escort the coffee from grinds to gold. That’s sort of what chemex-brewed coffee looks and tastes like: liquid gold. Smooth and thin, it reminds one of our baristas of tea, which is good news if you’re an adventurous tea drinker taking baby steps towards coffee. Chemex can seem intimidating if you’re unfamiliar with the process, but don’t let its fancy name fool you into thinking it’s rocket science. Doing it with a friend or having a barista walk you through the steps might boost your confidence. You can brew more than one cup if you want (measurements will vary), but chemex works best if you’re making one or two...
A Potter’s Perspective: Spotlight on Joel Shaw

A Potter’s Perspective: Spotlight on Joel Shaw

Every time you walk into your local coffee shop, you experience once again the cacophony of voices and the sound of the espresso machine mixed with the smell of freshly-ground coffee. These are the things you love, the things that make a business meeting or lunch break with a friend a pleasure. While the sights and sounds all contribute to the experience, it’s the multitude of stories woven into the fabric of the shop that we take beyond its walls. These narratives shape our perspective on life, reminding us of what is important. One such story stood out last week when Clint, one of our baristas, was telling us about Seeds’ tea pots and cups. The pottery is all handmade by Joel Shaw, the hands behind Eugene Sailor Studios. If you frequent coffee shops or even if you just enjoy coffee and tea at home, chances are you probably have a favorite brew as well as a favorite cup to drink from. “People tend to have a glass they like,” Joel says. “Most people have something they will go to if they have an option, and I like that aspect of it.” What’s Joel’s favorite thing to make? “Little tea bowls,” he says with a smile. “I don’t think, at this point, I’ve ever made two the same.” Eastern cultures like the Chinese and Japanese value yunomis – teacups – and tea bowls for their practicality and artistic appeal, and Joel loves the history behind these pieces. Customers appreciate Joel’s pottery for its beauty and functionality—two things he takes seriously. For the past three years, he’s honed his skills by studying shapes so...