From glass nipples to whether you really need to wet filter paper …

Nipple on a Chemex

What’s that glass nipple on a Chemex?

Have you ever noticed that little glass nipple on a Chemex and wondered why it’s there? A flaw in the manufacturing of the glass? A quirky design element? A way to distinguish an original Chemex from an imitation? None of the above. It’s actually a volume marker (that can’t be faded by years of wear and washing) that denotes where the flask is halfway full. The exception to this is the pint-sized Chemex, where the nipple or button denotes when the carafe is full.

filter coffee

Do you really need to wet filter paper?

It’s a regular brewing convention that you wet the filter paper when making coffee in an AeroPress or when using a pourover method such as V60, Kalita Wave or Chemex. But how often have you found yourself following the rule while wondering if you could ditch it in order to get your morning brew in the cup more quickly?

Well, it turns out there are actually a few good reasons for doing it.

Firstly, wetting the paper makes the paper stick to the funnel so that no coffee grounds can get under it – and ultimately into your cup. Secondly, it rinses away any flavours or acidity in the paper itself which could taint the flavour of the coffee. And finally, if you use hot water to rinse the paper, you’re warming everything up a little (or at least taking the chill off) which will mean the coffee will cool down less on contact with the brewing equipment.

plant roots

Can coffee grounds make your garden grow?

Making your morning brew then dumping the coffee grounds in your food caddy? You could be missing out on some additional benefits from the beans which are beyond the daily thrills of the caffeinated variety.

Gardeners use coffee grounds as a soil enhancer and a useful addition to mulch. As coffee grounds can be pretty acidic, it’s not advised to spread unadulterated grounds around your bedding plants or you could do more harm than good. But if you mix the grounds in with compost or leaf mold you’ll give your garden an added blast of nitrogen, which many plants love.

Grounds can also be disposed of by putting them straight into your compost, but they are nitrogen-rich, so be sure to add additional brown matter to keep the correct balance in your compost.

It’s not just plants that can benefit either: used grounds can also be used to refresh your own body. Rinsed and mixed with a little coconut oil, the gritty substance makes an effective body scrub. And, unlike many commercially available versions, you won’t have any worries about it being washed down the drain and into the environment afterwards.