Brewing with my new Chemex Ottomatic

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.
jaybar

#1: Post by jaybar »

There has not been much written here about the Chemex Ottomatic, so I decided to share my first thoughts.

My Ottomatic arrived yesterday. The Ottomatic ships with a 6 cup Classic wood collar brewer as the default. I ordered mine with a 6 cup glass handle brewer. The packaging is well designed and the Ottomatic and enclosed brewer were well protected. I received the first one from their latest batch of Brewers. The Ottomatic did not come with instructions. Chemex promptly sent a PDF after I contacted them. Overall. Their customer service regarding the Ottomatic has been exemplary.

The water tank is not detachable, as it is on the Wilfa. I wish it had been. Filling the tank is very easy. Chemex recommends using the brewer as a "fill agent". That worked rather well. They recommend filling the tank and running water through twice before brewing coffee. No surprise. The left side of the tank has markings corresponding to their various brewer sizes (3-8 cup). Each marking was a Mini Chemex brewer, with the number of cups and a line through. Very easy to read. I am visually impaired and I could still read the markings.

The markings were not the last word in accuracy. For example, the six cup mark, proved to be about 10% less, the actual volume, based on Chemex standard of 5 ounce cups. Also I found the manual to be slightly confusing. It implies that the markings represent brewed coffee, when they really equate to water added. There is also a conflict between the manual's description of using the markings to measure water and how one might use water level in the brewer to approximate how much water was needed. I found the description of using the water level in the brewer to be better. The best approach would've been for the manual to suggest weighing both coffee and water. These quibbles are very minor.

How to use the brewer? Fill the tank to your desired level. Place a filter in the brewer. Wet the filter and dump the rinse water. No need to use boiling water to heat the Chemex. Add coffee. Place the Chemex on the Ottomatic' flat plate, which has an indentation and center the brewer. Flip the switch. A red LED will turn on. The Ottomatic, has this amazing dispensing head, which first dispenses water for the bloom, then pauses and then resumes dispensing in slow programmed pulses. The head has about 5 streams of water. dispersed around the head. It appears to uniformly wet the coffee bed. Far better then I could do manually, given my coordination.

When all the water passes through, the light turns from red to white. It takes s few minutes for the drips to stop from the dispensing head. The manual suggests you wait until dripping stops before removing the brew vessel. This is important. Otherwise there will be water left in the indentation where the Chemex rests.

Supposedly the Ottomatic heats the water to 195'-204F. The base has a built in heater that keeps the brewed coffee at 170F. I did not measure any of these claimed temperatures. Remember to turn off the Ottomatic. There is no automatic shut-off.

The quality of the coffee, equaled anything I had ever brewed manually in a Chemex. I decided to switch from manual brewing to the Ottomatic because I felt it would be easier for me, given my vision and eye hand coordination then manual brewing. The Ottomatic was a joy to use and produced great coffee. Worth the price. Thanks to Chemex for great customer service.

I am tending towards a slightly coarser grind then when I brew manually. Chemex also says you can use either square or circle filters. They supply a starter pack of about 10 folded circle filters. I would suspect that square filters would be more cumbersome.

Lastly, if you are planning to use the smaller 3 cup Chemex, with the Ottomatic, you will find that the diameter of the top of the smaller Chemex is not much bigger then the Ottomatic's dispensing head. Therefore you will need to be very careful, when centering the brewer, to avoid water spills. I will be be using the 6 cup brewer, even when brewing smaller batches.

Day Two with the Ottomatic.

It seems to de-emphasize the high notes. Guatemala Antigua was smoother and fuller then I remember. Perhaps it is the difference between pulse and continuous pour. When brewing manually I tend toward continuous pouring, rather then pulse pouring. Next week, I hope to brew some Tanzania Peaberry, which is quite different than Guatemala. I wonder if the differences hold up, in terms of fuller, yet milder coffee, with reduced acidity.

Chemex, today confirmed the apparent conflict between the cup markings and the instructions. For now, water tank markings reflect water added and not yield The current instructions anticipate a revision in water tank markings to reflect yield, which should happen in future production runs, according to Chemex.

I confirmed the temperature of the heating plate to be approximately 170 F, as published. I don't know how to measure the temperature at the water dispersion head and I am also not sure I have the dexterity to do so.

I am still playing with grind coarseness and coffee to water ratio. I am tending toward 2o-24 on my Virtuoso and 16:1 or 17:1.

For those of love Chemex and want a more automated that reduces both the time and the amount of attention needed. I strongly suggest considering the Ottomatic.

If anyone has questions, please ask.

Jay

jyounk

#2: Post by jyounk »

Would love to see some pics!

jaybar (original poster)

#3: Post by jaybar (original poster) »

Go tithe Chemex web site for pictures. The Chemex site has the Ottomatic pictures with both the Wood Collar and Glass handle Brewers. The Internet has lots of pictures. Some YouTube clips as well.

borisblank

#4: Post by borisblank »

jaybar wrote:There has not been much written here about the Chemex Ottomatic, so I decided to share my first thoughts.

For those of love Chemex and want a more automated that reduces both the time and the amount of attention needed. I strongly suggest considering the Ottomatic.

If anyone has questions, please ask.

Jay
It'd be great to see your setup, maybe a few shots of it in action! :D

jaybar (original poster)

#5: Post by jaybar (original poster) »

Sorry if I appear not helpful. I don't know how to upload pictures.

That being said, there are video clips on the Internet, that handle this far better than I could. They show the whole brew process close up. The only difference between the videos and my setup, is I am using the 6 cup glass handle Chemex with the Ottomatic. The videos demonstrate with the default 6 cup wood collar Chemex.

Jay

User avatar
HB
Admin

#6: Post by HB »

jaybar wrote:I don't know how to upload pictures.
See Posting images on HB for step-by-step instructions.
Dan Kehn

jaybar (original poster)

#7: Post by jaybar (original poster) »

Dan

Does the new iPhone photo app require any revision to the instructions?

Thanks

Jay

User avatar
HB
Admin

#8: Post by HB »

I don't think so, but if you find otherwise, please start a thread in the Suggestion Box.
Dan Kehn

jaybar (original poster)

#9: Post by jaybar (original poster) »

Hi

I thought I would share some added concerns as I approach my first week with the Ottomatic. I have recommended some editing of the instructions to Chemex. The instructions relating to cup markings on the mater tank, refer to cups of brewed coffee. The actual water markings on the tank are for cups of brew water added. Evidentially future production runs will have water tank markings revised to reflect cups of brewed coffee and not brew water. The current instructions have been written to anticipate this eventual change, but they are inaccurate for the current Ottomatic' Brewers. Chemex, should issue a version of the instructions for the current production run, and make them available on line to any first adopters.

I suspect that most people on this forum, will weigh BOTH their water and their coffee and therefore avoid the problem. However, less savvy people who are attracted to an upscale simple brewer will be confused by the instructions.

Another concern related to the instructions reference to descaling. If you are using Chemex's own descaling/cleaning solution, referred to in the instructions then the instructions are wrong. The solution, according to Chemex staff, comes in 2 ounce bottles. You should use one bottle every time you descale, according to customer support staff. You empty the contents of the bottle into the water tank AND THEN YOU SHOULD ADD WATER TO THE EIGHT CUP MARK. The current instructions tell you to fill the tank with descale solution, up to the eight cup mark. This differs from what you really need to do. Also, when you go to the Chemex web site, the picture of the bottle, gives the illusion of a rather tall bottle-holding much more then two ounces. I would have been confused, had I not talked to Chemex staff.

My major concern is the temperature of the finished brew. Chemex assured me that my unit was repeatedly tested before it was sent, and it was found to brew at the correct temperature. I have no doubt of that. The problem lies elsewhere. The brewer is designed to accommodate a post brew "water ejection" to insure that no water remains trapped in the special "greedy head" ducts. The instructions refer to this and caution you not to remove the carafe until this is completed (no drops exit from the head). If you are not brewing a full carafe, then this added time, coupled with the time it takes for the last drops if coffee to exit the filter, results, for me, in a cooler then desired brew. The hotplate simply does not compensate for the heat loss. I could preheat the vessel with boiling water, but if I had to do that, I might as well brew manually. Any suggestions?

Thanks

Jay

Seed65

#10: Post by Seed65 »

Thank you for the comprehensive review! I am considering the Ottomatic and you are the first real world user that I have read a review from. So do you think it is worth the cost?

I was considering the Wilfa but after having seen the video comparison of the spray head coverage to the Ottomatics, the Ottomatic looks much more precise and has better spray coverage....and quiet. :)

So how long is the wait between the end of the brew cycle and the expulsion of water from the spray head?

Thank you!!!

Mike