These German-designed hourglass-shaped coffee makers were first introduced in 1941. It works like any pour-over coffee maker does for the most part; by letting gravity pull the brewed coffee through the filter, where it collects in the lower chamber. The process isn’t instantaneous and it generally takes about four minutes. Here are some handy tips on how to brew better coffee using your Chemex.
Here’s something for you to think about: the Chemex measures in cups (148ml), and most people drink coffee in mugs larger than that. So if your cup size is about 200ml, you’d need closer to two cups in the Chemex coffee for your usual size. Measuring your usual coffee mug might be a good idea. Use this guide when you’re buying your Chemex too. The 3 cup model should be good for one coffee drinker, but two or more drinkers would mean you could upgrade for the 6 cup model.
The secret of good coffee is often in the bean and the grind size. A medium-coarse grind is suited for this, (think sea salt) as the Chemex uses thicker filters. Using a finer, smaller grind size will extract too much too quickly, which could result in a bitter cup. A larger grind size could give you an under-extracted cup; which isn’t ideal either. This could effect the brewing time too!
The Chemex uses special filters which are about 25% thicker than regular paper filters. These are rounded or square in shape, and are better at filtering out more residue and fines. It’s also important for you to rinse the filter by pouring into the brewer so the paper is not dry. This will heat up the Chemex and won’t give you any unseemly paper taste. Don’t forget to discard the water!
This is one of the most beautiful coffee moments. The fresher the coffee, the better the bloom, or expansion. Using a gooseneck kettle is recommended as it offers the most precision. Make sure all the coffee is off the edges of the filter by pouring in a controlled spiral manner and slowly adding water to the centre. Take your time with this so your device doesn’t overflow or the coffee get agitated.
Remember that the Chemex brewers don’t keep your coffee hot for too long, so it should be consumed fresh. If that’s not possible, transfer it into a thermos after brewing. Reheating coffee can make it lose a lot of the flavour components, and is best had fresh.
This device is somewhere between an art and a science — which gives you a lot of room for experimentation with grind sizes, ratios and beans. We recommend going to your local roaster and trying different beans best suited for your Chemex. Don’t forget to recycle your filter and enjoy your coffee!