At a time when people are increasingly buying “natural” and “organic” foods, the word “Chemex” mightn’t sound like an ideal name for a maker of coffee brewing gear. Yet Chemex’s 1941-vintage Coffee Maker has spent decades as a gold standard for pour-over coffee: featured in the MoMA collection, this Bauhaus-inspired design combines an hourglass-shaped glass pitcher with leather-bound wooden grips and special paper filters, producing delicious coffee.
The Chemex process involves placing freshly ground coffee beans inside a Chemex-brand filter atop the Chemex-brand pitcher, then “pouring-over” hot water in a manner that guarantees optimal extraction of coffee from the grounds. Following Chemex’s instructions, identical coffee beans and water produce a noticeably better cup of coffee than the typical home coffee machine – the reason many coffee shops offer Chemex-brewed coffee at a premium.
But traditional Chemex brewing requires learning, takes time, and demands a lot of user interaction: everything from hitting the right water temperature to the multi-step pouring process requires a lot more attention than just pressing the “start” button on a Keurig. While Chemex isn’t catering to the exact same audience, the company has acknowledged the value of a streamlined brewing process with this week’s release of Ottomatic ($350). Priced above top-ranked established coffee makers such as the single-cup Keurig K75 and small pot Bonavita BV1800, Ottomatic is designed to compete against premium metal and glass models such as the Wilfa Precision Coffee Maker — machines that are equal parts art and science. Chemex designed Ottomatic to look beautiful and radically simplify the fussy pour-over process. That’s exactly what it does. Read on for all the details.