Chemex Might Make You Not Want to Use Your Regular Coffee Maker Again

It was fawning interest at first sight and then love at first drink with the Chemex Filter-Drip Coffeemaker.

I love to drink coffee, and the fact that our coffee of choice is Peet’s made me think I was kind of a coffee snob. (Wonderfully, our local grocery store sells Peet’s whole bean by the package, and often on sale.) But deep down inside I knew that my reliance on a standard coffee maker–and only very occasional use of a French press–meant coffee brewing snobbery was still an aspiration.

Chemex scratches that itch, but in a non-pretentious way. I’ve been enjoying regular use of the Ten Cup Glass Handle Chemex for the last couple weeks, which Chemex kindly sent my way for review.

It comes with its own filters. Behold:

Chemex even included an awesome leather coaster to put the glass on.

Now, it’s time to make the coffee. Pretty simple (and there was an instruction sheet included):

  • Grind the beans, medium coarse
  • Put them in the filter on top of the glass brewer
  • Boil the water (Chemex has this sweet looking thing, but I just used my tea kettle)
  • Pour the water over the beans and let them “bloom” for 30 seconds (Chemex tells me the bloom is “escaping gas that has been trapped in the beans during the roasting process”
  • Pour water over the beans, so that it goes almost to the top of the glass
  • Repeat

This is the smoothest cup of coffee I’ve ever had at home. There’s not an ounce of sludge, anywhere in sight. Even the pour from the Chemex to mug is perfectly clear and clean. Here’s an image of the drip brewing:

Mmmmmmm.

Drinking coffee from the regular coffee maker the next day was a serious step down. (Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful for coffee in all its forms!) I had no idea what I was missing.

The design is awesome. The glass is strong. The filters are easy to use and don’t leak. The handle makes pouring easy. Maybe the only thing I’d add is some kind of cozy or heat cover. You can put this on the stove on low heat (if gas or glass stove top), but then I’d have to remember it’s there! (I.e., no auto-off.) But I put the brewed coffee right into a Thermos, so that works out well.

Learn more about the Chemex at its product page here. Two thumbs (or in this case, mugs) up!

5 Forthcoming Reviews

Just a short “in the mail” post today to share five reviews you can expect to read here in the coming weeks and months:

 

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  1. First Raise a Flag: How South Sudan Won the Longest War but Lost the Peace (Oxford University Press)  

    This book just arrived in the mail yesterday. Some years ago I read a few books on the Rwandan genocide, and have had occasional interest in African history. Time to reactivate that interest and learn more about what’s been happening in Sudan. (LINK)

     

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  2. The 13.1 GoneForaRun running journal  

    It will be hard to top the Believe training journal I use now, but this one looks good so far. (LINK)

     

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  3. Old Testament Hebrew vocabulary cards  

    I learned Hebrew using these more than 10 years ago; now the Basics of Biblical Hebrew suite from Zondervan is in a new edition, so I’m re-learning with the updated cards. (LINK)

     

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  4. A sweet leather wallet from Galen Leather  

    It holds a pen! Cards! A notebook! Money! (money sold separately) It looks, feels, and smells amazing. (LINK)

     

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  5. Harvard Business Review’s new book, Why Do So Many Men Become Incompetent Leaders? (and how to fix it)  

    I just finished the book yesterday, so will probably post about that next. (LINK)

Two More Winners from Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.

We’re continuing to enjoy the recipes from Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky (publisher page / Amazon). (And we still use its predecessor, Run Fast. Eat Slow.) I think it’s safe to say that recently the majority of prepared foods in our house has used one of those two cookbooks.

Two more yummy ones to show in this post. First, the ultra-healthy Grain Salad, for which you can use quinoa or any other grain you have in the house.

 

A snippet of what’s in the book

 

Yum yum.

 

That salad was dee-lish-us.

I was eager to try the cardamom granola recipe, however aged our cardamom might be! I tripled the recipe so that we’d have some to share.

 

Recipe snippet

 

Used the biggest bowl I could find

 

 

It came out great. If anything, the recipe could have called for more cardamom; its taste wasn’t very pronounced, but that could be because some of my spice had lost its flavor over time.

Oh, and have I mentioned the superhero muffins? If you loved them from the first cookbook, this follow-up offers more variations. Lots of great grab-and-go (but healthy and nourishing) snack ideas here.

I’ve barely even gotten into the book’s racing tips and overarching eating/kitchen strategies; we’ve been so eager to just go the the recipes. But it’s got some really useful big picture stuff, too, like a compelling section on why the book doesn’t include calorie counts. And there are chapters devoted to things like “Jump-Start Your Kitchen” (chapter two) and some of Shalane’s training routine (the third chapter, “Rise & Run”).

This cookbook/guidebook is definitely a worthy sequel, and has a prominent place among our cookbooks. You can check out the Run Fast. Eat Slow. website here.

 


 

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow., sent so I could review it, but with no expectation as to the nature or content of my review.

Oatmeal Banana Pancakes for Shrove Tuesday (from Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.)

Yesterday in the mail I received a review copy of Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky (publisher page / Amazon). We’ve loved its predecessor, Run Fast. Eat Slow. This new volume says you can “cook the recipes that Shalane Flanagan ate while training for her 2017 TCS New York City Marathon historic win!”

Last night I wasn’t thinking about marathons; just how to make a good dinner for the family. As yesterday was Shrove Tuesday, I went right to the index to see if there were any pancake recipes. Lo and behold, I found one for oatmeal banana pancakes:

 

 

I did not have oatmeal flour on hand, but had some organic rolled oats, which I could easily grind up in a food processor. My wife and I went to work: she mixed the wet ingredients; I mixed the dry ones (there were hungry mouths waiting). Before long, this:

 

 

became this:

 

 

They were tasty!

Between the previous cookbook and now this newer one, we have yet to find a dud of a recipe. (Although I’m not sure I’ll repeat the first cookbook’s blueberry scones made with corn meal.)

There are also racing tips and bigger picture eating strategies in Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. So far it looks like a worthy follow-up to our current go-to cookbook. More to follow!

New from This Is Ground: Mod Tablet 5

It’s the Everyday Carry for your Everyday Carry: the Mod Tablet 5 from This Is Ground.

 

 

First thing I did when it arrived: I emptied out my pockets and satchel pouches and put my EDC into this suave, all-grown-up version of a Trapper Keeper.

Behold:

 

 

There are more compartments than I have been able to use this first week of owning it, but I think that is sort of the point here: maximum versatility.

 

 

Here it is from the front. You can see at the left that it’s got a collapsable carry handle, and a front pocket for a phone or notebook that you want to regularly reference.

 

 

The construction is careful:

 

 

The logo on the back is subtle and done well:

 

 

Here’s a closer look at some of the lines and zippers:

 

 

It’s got a pretty slim profile. It measures 8 x 11 inches and weighs 1.4 pounds—not light, but pretty compact for all it does. It’s easy to throw into a satchel or carry around on its own.

So far there are two things I find wanting:

  1. There are tons of loops for pens or cords, but most of them are too big for just one pen or pencil to securely stay put.
  2. There are lots of little pockets (and the mesh insert pictured above is awesome), but just one big pocket for an iPad or larger notebook. One more large pocket would help.

However, the “modular case” is “built to solve the needs of those that carry tech and other small gear,” so perhaps it’s best conceived as one part tech Dopp kit, one part notebook/writing utensil holder.

Where it really excels is in its versatility in helping the user stay organized… plus it looks and feels really good. The leather pictured above (“Rhum”) comes from South America. And it’s full grain!

The Mod Tablet 5 isn’t cheap: $385. In that sense I’d consider it a luxury item.

It’s been a lot of fun to use this first week—I’ll post more after further use. The color of the Mod shown above is “Rhum,” a beautiful, dark, rich brown.

You can read more about it and find purchase information here.

 


 

Thanks to This Is Ground for the review sample, sent without expectation as to the content of my review. See our other This Is Ground reviews here and here. Cross-posted also at Words on the Goods.

Toy Review: PlaSmart’s Watermelon Ball JR

This summer we played with PlaSmart’s Watermelon Ball JR, a water toy I thought the kids might play with for a couple minutes and then get bored. But we all found it really fun!

As you can see, it floats! Here the predator stalks its prey:

 

 

But it also moves underwater really well. Whether at the beach or (better) in a swimming pool, we had lots of fun passing it to each other and playing keep away by pushing it through the water. Even though it pops up to the surface to float, you can move it around pretty easily underwater.

The ball comes with a mechanism to easily fill it with water from a hose—we filled it to probably about 2/3 full, which ended up working just fine. It hasn’t leaked at all.

Here are a couple of more images from PlaSmart.

The Watermelon Ball is so named because it is:

Designed to look, feel, and behave like a watermelon in water. Real watermelons are nearly neutrally buoyant: first sinking to the bottom then slowly rising to the top, making them ideal for all kinds of water games.

It probably would have been pretty fun to be among the group of people testing out real watermelons to discover that they are “nearly neutrally buoyant” (probably a pool party accident). I didn’t cross-test this toy against a watermelon, so can’t speak to the similarities, but the toy definitely does what it promises.

Here is the product page. You can follow PlaSmart via Twitter and Facebook. And here’s the ball on Amazon.

They are also the makers of the “cool, cool car”! and this play mat that we reviewed a few years ago.

 


 

 

Thanks to the good folks at PlaSmart for the review sample, provided for review but with no expectation as to the content of this post.

 

Music Review: Indigo by Wild Nothing

Wild-Nothing-Indigo_FINAL.jpgI made the mistake of not checking the van stereo’s volume before pressing play on “Letting Go,” the first track on Wild Nothing’s new LP Indigo (released August 31 on Captured Tracks). The kids and I all nearly jumped out of our seats at the opening sixteenth note hits on the snare. The keyboard, bass, and interlocking guitars join in to make it a great opening track (the album’s first single).

“Oscillation” is next, which—without taking away from its originality—sounds something like if members of The Cure and James and Amusement Parks on Fire formed a supergroup… in 1982.

The rest of the album maintains a (glorious) 80s vibe, complete with ethereal keyboard riffs and attention-demanding lead guitar lines. I kept thinking: this is what Prince would sound like if he covered early 80s CCM classics! (That’s praise, not a complaint.) The album’s saxophones fit perfectly, even if their first entrance on the album was a surprise.

I took great pleasure in having a traveling companion/listening partner try to guess what year the album came out. “2018” was not the expected answer!

The production is excellent on the album, the melodies are catchy, and all the instrument parts are interesting. It’s got a sweet vibe. I still like 2012’s Nocturne better—it feels a little more effortless—but Indigo is still a great record.

Check out the artist site here, the label site here, and the album at Amazon here.

 


 

Thanks to Wild Nothing’s PR team for early access to the album so we could review it.