A few months ago I wrote a post titled How I make coffee. I love coffee. As such, I am on a constant journey to find the best techniques that balances convenience and quality. Unfortunately, while the Chemex Ottomatic holds a lot of promise it falls short in a number of ways. So, first, why the Chemex Ottomatic? Well a few months after writing my post, the Wilfa had an epic failure. I started to notice small flecks of black plastic falling from the Wilfa and upon inspection saw that the area around the water spout (the part where the 200 degree water emerges) was chipping. Seriously disappointed as I found the machine had a lot going for it. The water temperature was extremely consistent, it was easy to fill and measure the coffee, and it did a good job at 1 cup or 5 cups.
I took the Wilfa back to Williams-Sonoma where they gladly refunded our money commenting a few others have been returned for the same reason. Williams-Sonoma customer service gets 5 stars.
At that point I returned to manual coffee making using either a Hario or a Chemex. This was the first time we had used a Chemex (6-cup) and it did a great job. The filters are much thicker and the coffee grind is a bit finer than for the Hario, but otherwise it was just as good for a manual pour-over.
I knew Chemex had been working on a coffee machine similar to the Wilfa and I was excited for it. Once I saw that Williams-Sonoma carried it, I ordered one. On paper this looked like the perfect machine. Good looks, from a quality company, automated pour-over.
Sadly it appears to be an outsourced made in china product, with a great brand name slapped on and a high price that doesn't justify what this machine does.
While it does have come aspects of convenience, it falls short in so many ways.
I was so surprised by how off the temp was that I called Williams-Sonoma and they sent me a replacement. However, the replacement did not fair much better. I measured the water temp a few dozen times with my ThermoWorks right at the point water emerges from the machine. My reads were between 150 and 185 degrees. Only after about 1 cup of water, did it get up to 190. Never once did it maintain constant temperature through the cycle.
I like my coffee hot.
The machine has a lot of plastic. For a company that prides itself on beautiful glass and wood products, this is the opposite. The water container is fixed and made of plastic. It fogs up and doesn't really dry out. The plastic is painted gray and won't hold up.
The machine struggles to make small quantities of coffee with either a 6-cup or a 3-cup Chemex. The blooming process isn't really much of a blooming process. The beans don't get totally covered. The brewing process dumps too much water into the Chemex and what you get is a lot of coffee that just clumps up and water that runs through not extracting enough coffee on the way in.
Unfortunately I didn't really have a replacement to get. So we have been using is anyway, not being super happy.
That's when I decided to order the Ratio Coffee machine. It's hand made in Oregon, it's all glass, and it looks amazing. It's crazy expensive but nothing compared to a reasonable espresso machine. They currently are working on a carafe for the machine, you can see it on KickStarter.
I'm excited to get the Ratio and sell the Chemex. If all else fails, I'll consider going back to the Wilfa but get the silver aluminum model to avoid the flaking.
I think this is the first 2 star rating I've given a product, and for that I'm bummed.
★★☆☆☆ Avoid. Mediocre.