Cooking Show is a video series documenting the preparation of a single dish. From professional chefs to home cooks and everyone in between, we are peeking into Pittsburgh kitchens to watch local experts at work. Watch more in this series here.
Fed up with percolators and tired of cleaning linen bag filters, Dresdener Melitta Bentz experimented with new ways of brewing coffee. In 1908, she poured hot water onto coffee grounds resting on her son’s blotting paper, allowing what passed through to drip into a brass pot, and in the process giving birth to what we know today as pour-over coffee. The new technology was a success.
Today, the pour-over coffee method takes many shapes, with multiple instruments suited to task. There’s the V60, a spiral-ridged cone shaped dripper, or the Bee House, a wedged-shaped cone dripper that can sit atop a coffee mug, or the glass Woodneck, the flat-bottomed Kalita Wave, or the four-component German-made Walkure. These manual coffee-making methods allow the home brewer control over every aspect of the coffee, from bean selection to grind size to coffee strength and water quality.
At Constellation Coffee in Lawrenceville, barista Cliff‘s manual coffee maker of choice is the Chemex. Invented by German chemist Dr. Peter Schlumbohm in 1941, the Chemex—one of hundreds of his patented products—is a beautiful glass decanter inspired by the Bauhaus school of design that, using non-porous labware, avoids imparting any extra flavor into the brew. In our Cooking Show at Constellation Coffee, Cliff shows that wetting the Chemex’s paper filter with hot water serves two purposes: It removes extraneous traces of flavor and increases the temperature of the device itself to the eventual temperature of the coffee. Because of the instrument’s design and technique, many believe the Chemex to be a very pure—and easy—way to make a cup of coffee. “In our opinion, it brings out more subtle notes of the coffee,” says Cliff. “It’s really easy to do. You just need a few items and about five minutes of your time.”
Follow along at home with the below receipe.