There is something fiercely precious about those first few moments of the morning for me. It’s peaceful and unspoiled time. It’s another promise of a fresh start, despite however chaotic the prior day ended.
Most mornings start the same way for me: I get up after looking at my phone, admittedly longer than I should have. I make my bed, pick out my clothes for the day, and wrap my plush flannel robe around me before I head to the kitchen.
I fashion a half-bow with the robe band and tighten it before I open up all of my cabinets and pull out all of the fixings to make my much-needed cup of coffee. They don’t call it the best part of waking up for no reason. Sometimes looking forward to those first few sips is still what gets me up at all.
I first grab my stainless steel gooseneck kettle and fill it up with the appropriate amount of water. I crank the heat on the front left burner and set down the kettle on top. I let the temperature slowly rise as I prepare for the other steps ahead.
I was first introduced to the world of Chemex with thanks to my sister and brother-in-law. One of the times that I was over at their house they made what can only be described as the best cup of coffee that I’ve ever had. After continually raving about it, they purchased the Chemex for me for my birthday almost two years ago and I fell in love with it.
I think what I like the most about it, besides feeling like a scientist while using it, is how it forces me to pay attention to what I’m doing. To be more mindful at a time when it’s easy to let my thoughts fly around in every direction.
Every morning is a new day for me to try and replicate that perfect cup of coffee, but I have yet to master it.
After I hear the kettle starting to creak from the heat rising, I take hold of my fresh bag of coffee beans. This week it was Guatemala coffee, from Colectivo, which ends up as a bright light roasted cup of coffee. It’s my favorite one. As soon as I open the bag I can feel a smile form. It’s delectable.
I pour the grounds into a cup on my scale and measure out my prescribed dosage. If I’m extra tired I’ll add an extra gram or so. I snatch up the cup and chuck the beans into my burr coffee grinder. I set the grind to medium coarse and push the start button. The sound is awful. It’s loud and clunky. The coffee beans don’t go down without a fight. They come out so broken down that I need a brush to make sure I get all of the grounds out. It always still makes a huge mess.
I then set the filter on top of the Chemex. This one boasts the ability to extract all of the bitterness and elements out during the brewing process. I set the 3-folded side toward the spout. The filter is just the sort of barrier that it needs.
As it sometimes does, my mind just begins to daydream about my crush, and before I know it the kettle water is so hot that I have to move it from the burner before it spills out. Flushed, I grip the handle of the kettle and pour the steaming water over the filter to preheat the Chemex.
I set the kettle on the backburner to cool down a minute. The temperature needs to be more around 205 degrees, but right now it’s at least 10 degrees higher than that. I don’t want the coffee to have a burnt taste.
After the maker is preheated I drain the water and add the grounds to the filter. I wait for the next step, which is my favorite:
When I finally add the 100 grams of the warmly timed water to the grounds, magic starts to happen, but not instantaneously. The full bloom takes about a minute, but when it does all of the fragrant notes of citrus, dark chocolate, and honey elegantly dance their way to my nose. It’s just a sample of what’s to come.
The next several minutes are a balancing act between keeping the water at the right temperature, not overflowing the Chemex, and paying attention to the scale as to not pour too much in. It’s a game of trial and error. This may seem tedious, but as with most things I know that sometimes the longer something takes to happen, the sweeter the payoff in the end.
I sit and wait for the coffee to finish draining fully. Once it’s down I swirl the coffee maker around and grab my white mug and pour it in carefully. I pause for a moment before the cup touches my lips, hoping that my patience has finally paid off and that I’ve finally mastered the art of making coffee. I take my first sip and feel the warmth of the coffee roll down my throat and to my stomach. The warm seeps through my skin. Today, I realize, that maybe for the first time I have actually done it. I may have made that perfect cup. I take another sip. Or maybe I haven’t…
But even if I haven’t yet, I know that I’m going to keep trying until I do.