How to be your own barista: Tips, tricks and tools of the trade

Shahnee Zaver gives her advice on making a killer cup of Chemex coffee at home.

Credit: Caffe La Tana

Shahnee Zaver gives her advice on making a killer cup of Chemex coffee at home.

Crafting your own caffeinated beverage is cheaper, safer (#thanksCOVID-19) and more brag-worthy than hitting up your local café—unfortunately, it’s also a lot more daunting. Shahnee Zaver, general manager at Vancouver’s Caffe La Tana, offered us her wisdom on being our own baristas. “You can take a really good bag of beans, and in a few simple, repeatable steps, you can have a really satisfying experience,” Zaver says. Follow her instructions below to make your own perfect cup of Chemex coffee. “It takes a little more time but really delivers on a fuller-tasting cup,” she explains. You can brew your choice of beans—Zaver uses La Tana’s Caffe Ululato Espresso blend.

You can find the Ululato blend and other favourites at Caffe La Tana’s new Caffe E Alimentari online shop. They do pickup and delivery (get some fresh pasta while you’re at it).

Credit: Mark Yammine

Shahnee Zaver, general manager at Caffe La Tana

How to make a Chemex coffee

Step 1
Grind your coffee to a medium grind. I suggest using a burr grinder because it produces a more consistent particle size, allowing for a more even extraction and fuller-bodied cup of coffee.

Step 2
Dampen the filter with warm water to rinse and preheat the brewer. Once the water has drained through the filter completely, pour it out of the brewer while keeping the filter sealed against the Chemex wall.

Step 3
Put one rounded tablespoon of ground coffee for every five-ounce cup into the filter cone. Feel free to use more if you prefer it stronger.

Step 4
Once you’ve brought the appropriate amount of water to a boil, remove it from the heat and allow it to stop boiling vigorously. Pour a small amount of water over the coffee grounds to wet them, and wait for about 30 seconds for them to “bloom,” releasing the most desirable coffee elements from the grounds.

Step 5
After the grounds bloom, slowly pour the brewing water over the grounds while keeping the water level well below the top of the Chemex. Slowly pour the remaining water over the grounds, using a circular or back-and-forth motion as you pour to ensure an even soaking of the grounds. Once the desired amount of coffee is brewed, lift the filter with spent grounds out of the brewer and discard.

Step 6
Pour your freshly made coffee into your favourite mug and enjoy.


Shahnee’s favourite things

Here are some of the La Tana coffee queen’s greatest gadgets:

Fellow EKG kettle from Old Faithful Shop, $210

Barter cups from Barter Design, $22

Aaron Probyn mugs from Crate and Barrel, from $8

Baratza Encore coffee grinder from Espressotec, $189

Chemex coffee maker from Old Faithful Shop, from $55

Chemex coffee filters from Old Faithful Shop, $15