Tag Archives: howto

How to brew pour-over coffee: a step-by-step guide

I just realized after all this time that though I had posted a tutorial on how to use a Bialetti stove-top espresso maker, I never did the same for pour-over coffee! This is ironic, since using a Chemex was the way I used to brew my coffee before I discovered Bialetti (actually out of lack of choice) when we were living in Portugal. The Pour-over style is cited sometimes as a fancy third-wave way to brew coffee, but it actually pretty historic – and easy! The coffeemaker I use for my pour-over coffee is a Chemex, a design classic invented in 1941 by scientist Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, and its design is now in MOMA’s permanent collection. In order to brew in a Chemex, you will need filters (either paper or reusable – each has pros and cons), and some medium-ground coffee (about the consistency of kosher salt). Below you will see my Chemex setup – I have the 6-cup Chemex model, and I use a kitchen scale to measure the coffee and water.


The basic steps to making pour-over coffee are:

  1. First, wet the filter after placing in it in the Chemex, so it adheres to the sides of the coffeemaker. Then discard this water. This step is not necessary if you are using a metal filter.
  2. Boil your water – the amount will vary depending on how much coffee you want to make. You will begin pouring the water just after it has boiled (about 200 F).
  3. Add the coffee grounds to the filter. The rule of thumb we use is 2 grams of coffee per oz of water, and the Chemex guide itself recommends “1 rounded Tablespoon for 5 oz of coffee.” We use a kitchen scale to measure this out.
  4. Slowly pour a small amount of water over the ground coffee, just enough to cover it, this is to make the coffee “bloom.”
  5. Once this amount of water has siphoned through, begin pouring the rest of the hot water over the grounds slowly in a circular fashion. The key is to pour slowly, and taking care to avoid pouring the water directly on the sides of the glass.

All in all, this process should only take about 4 minutes. It may take some tweaking to get the perfect coffee to water ratio, depending on the size of the coffee grind, and how strong you like your coffee. You can look at step-by-step photos at Stumptown and Blue Bottle. There is no perfect ratio, so play around with it, and there are other types of pour-over coffee pots to explore. Pour-over coffee may seem intimidating, but it really isn’t!

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10 Tips to Make the Most of Chicago Gourmet

After having attended the Chicago Gourmet food and wine festival for several years, I’ve picked up a few strategies for making it through the day with the maximum amount of food and fun. So how do you successfully navigate the gamut of unlimited food and free-flowing booze and plan the optimal experience?


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How to make Mexican chocolate

Mexico FlagIn Oaxaca we were floored by the delicious chocolate, and its almost-ubiquitous presence. There was even a chocolate street, Mina street, where you can load up on chocolate in all forms (definitely worth a future post). Many of the stores on Mina street demonstrate how chocolate is made right in the front of the shop. We were surprised to see how (relatively) easy it is to make, though the huge quantities are a little daunting. Saveur has a short instructional video showing you how it’s done, though you do need a grinder, even at home.

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How to Eat at a Kilo Restaurant in Brazil

brazilOne of the things you have to do before you leave Brazil is eat at a kilo restaurant. One of the quintessential Brazilian dining experiences, we long for places in the United States where you can get great food by the pound. While you can find kilo restaurants on nearly every street corner in Brazil, our absolute favorite kilo restaurant is the vegetarian-friendly Ramma in Salvador. Ramma2

But here’s the big question. If you find yourself in a kilo restaurant, what do you do? Where do you start? What do you order? Here are the basics. What happens is this: you are given a plate and a little order form/ticket. With this, you are welcome to serve yourself at the buffet, much as you do in a typical American-style buffet. However, be careful that your eyes are not bigger than your stomach, because it will end up costing you! At the end of the buffet your plate is weighed and you are charged by the kilo. The price is then written on your ticket, or sometimes at fancier places the scale has a machine that prints an automatic sticker. “Extras” like drinks, coffee or single-serve desserts are marked on your ticket as well, and sometimes you can order these from your table once you have sat down.


The offerings at Aipo e Aipim, a fancy kilo restaurant in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.

After getting your ticket, you sit down to eat your food. This can sometimes be tricky at more popular kilo places, which can get absolutely packed around lunchtime, especially in the business districts. As such, don’t worry about filling up the first time: if you want more, you can add to your ticket, or get a second one. When you’re done, you pay the cashier on the way out by handing them your marked ticket. It is absolutely imperative that you do not lose your ticket, and it is the only way that you can exit the restaurant. If you happen to lose your ticket you usually have to pay an exorbitant fee (fortunately this has not happened to us…yet) though we noticed that at certain other kilo places the fee is not too high (maybe 50 reais or about US $25 at the time we were there). Maybe this would encourage people to eat a ton, and “lose” a ticket?

Kilo Buffet

All this for only about $8

There are different types of kilo restaurants for all different tastes – including salad places, vegetarian places, pasta places (Spoleto) and places with homestyle Brazilian food (Aipo e Aipim), and many have several branches in Rio. Sometimes there is a whole separate dessert buffet or even a churrasco (grilled meats) station, which may be offered at a different kilo rate (the churrasco at Aipo e Aipim is great). The selection varies by price, but most restaurants will have at least a dozen options.

Cake buffet at Aipo e Aipim

Cake buffet at Aipo e Aipim

The menu at a kilo restaurant varies daily, so if you find a favorite kilo place you can go there a few times a week and not be too bored. Prices vary, but the lowest price at a decent kilo restaurant was about R$20 ($10) ranging up to about R$50 ($25). Prices are cheaper outside the tourist areas, obviously. The prices may also vary inside “peak” hours (12-2 or so), and off hours may cost less. At first we were bewildered, but we grew to love the kilo restaurant. It may seem like a lot to consider, but you’ll be eating at kilo restaurants like a native Brazilian in no time!


Filed under World Eats