When the manual brew renaissance hit specialty coffee, it hit hard. Beyond the adoration showered on elusive Japanese dripper cones, one humble and elegant brewer, a design icon recognized by much of over-40 Americans, remained a constant. The handsome Chemex, the same brewer it had always been since its invention by German-born Peter Schlumbohm in the 1930s, reemerged on countertops. Whether unearthed from the back of a mother's cupboard or purchased at the nearest frou-frou café, Chemex—a tricked-out Erlenmeyer flask with a showy wood-and-leather collar—was back.
Though the brewer's had its share of cutting modern critiques, to many, there's still no more stylish or simple way to brew, and present, wonderful coffees with clean, clear presence in the cup.
But coffee is fickle, as are the trend-seekers who love it, and as one arm (or in some cases, several robotic arms) of the community continues to embrace pour-over, another has returned with new enthusiasm to automatic methods. And at the end of 2014, with little warning to anybody, Chemex threw its hand-blown hat into the game with the fully surprising announcement of the Ottomatic: an automatic-drip machine that brews into a Chemex.
For a company whose recent recognition is based—let's be honest, almost entirely—on its retro-chic, non-electric charm, the Ottomatic seemed, to some, to be antithetical to all that Chemex stood for. But it's hardly the first time anyone's used an automatic brewer to make coffee in a Chemex, nor is it the first time Chemex has built a machine to do just this (Ooh! Wetting!)
Ottomatic pays tribute to Chemex's longstanding attention to design and simplicity with a minimal, arcing shower-head design and sleek, simple hotplate. We ogled the early photos and Otto's promises of pre-infusion and “pulsing water bath”. Join us now for an unboxing of the first Ottomatic brewer to leave the closely guarded Chemex compound in bucolic Western Massachusetts, and stay tuned to Sprudge this winter for more details on Ottomatic and the world of Chemex.
Ottomatic units will begin shipping January 2015, and will retail for $350.00 USD. Let's unbox it!
Getting a successful package delivery to Brooklyn is a feat in and of itself! Let's bring it in and put it under the tree for Christmas.
Forget it. Who can wait that long?
Goodies! Technically not part of Ottomatic, but they are still exciting. (Other members of the household will enjoy the styrofoam pellets, too.)
Now we're getting somewhere… just slide that box out of the other box, slide the machine out of that box, fold down the cardboard wings, and…
We always wondered whether Chemex secretly preferred the square or the rounded filters. Now we know.
And it's time to play with Ottomatic in earnest. We might even plug it in and brew coffee.
Liz Clayton is the Associate Editor at Sprudge.com, and helms our NYC desk. Read more Liz Clayton on Sprudge.