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Only a few things in life bring me as much joy as that first sip of a perfectly crafted pour-over coffee.
Over the years, I’ve tried many methods, but let me tell you – once mastered, the Chemex makes an exceptionally flavorful, clean cup of coffee that’s hard to beat.
But if you’ve ever experimented with the Chemex, you have probably discovered that your grind size can make or break your final brew. I won’t lie; I’ve had my share of bad brews when experimenting with the Chemex.
But what I’ve learned is that the key to the perfect cup is almost always determined by dialing in your coffee grind to a certain sweet spot, which I have found lies somewhere between not too fine and a not too coarse grind size.
Want to know more? In this post, I’ll share my tips and tricks to help you master the perfect grind.
✔ Quick Answer
What Makes Chemex Brewing Unique?
What gives this shapely little brewer such mystique? Let’s break down what makes the Chemex coffee maker so special.
For starters, the Chemex utilizes a proprietary extra-thick paper filter that removes a bit more oil and sediment than your average filter. As the hot water slowly drips through the coffee grounds and filter, it extracts and carries subtle flavors, acids, and sugars down into your carafe or cup.
I like to think of the Chemex filter as a bouncer, letting in only the most desirable flavors while leaving the bitter, over-extracted compounds behind. The resulting cup ends up remarkably clean and sweet, with a nice light-to-medium body.
Additionally, the shapely hourglass design of the Chemex brewer itself optimizes airflow and water distribution.
As you pour the hot water in circular motions over the coffee bed, the ridges help facilitate even saturation and extraction.
If you want to know more about the history of the Chemex and an in-depth brew guide, make sure to read this article.
Choosing the Best Grind for Chemex Coffee
Now that we’ve covered what makes the Chemex unique let’s dive into the heart of this article – determining the best grind size for the Chemex.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to nail the grind size in order to get the most flavor out of this pour-over brewer.
As water passes through the grounds during coffee brewing, soluble compounds are extracted based on the available surface area of those grounds.
Too fine, and it overextracts unpleasant flavors. Too coarse, and you get a hollow, watery cup. The goal is to find that sweet spot grind size that perfectly balances flavor and brew time.
After years of trial and error with my Chemex, I’ve got the optimal grind size dialed in based on some key principles.
Why Coffee Grind Size Matters
- Impacts how efficiently the water can extract flavors and compounds when brewing coffee
- Larger surface area from finer grind risks over-extraction
- Too coarse, and water passes through too quickly, under-extracting
- Affects overall brew time and drainage speed
As you can see, grind size is a crucial piece of the extraction puzzle. Now, let’s examine the ideal range you’re aiming for with the Chemex.
Recommended Grind Setting for Chemex Coffee
- Aim for a medium coarse grind consistency, similar to sea salt or table salt
- Provides ample surface area without slowing flow rate
- Allows for efficient, flavorful extraction without over-extracting
This medium-coarse grind is a bit coarser than drip or auto-drip grind sizes but not as chunky as a French press. When you compare grind size charts, it falls right in that sweet spot.
What Roast Level Works Best for Chemex?
I tend to prefer light or medium roasts to really highlight the Chemex’s bright, fruity notes. But feel free to experiment with darker roasts as well – you may need to adjust the grind finer.
Let’s move on to some key tips for achieving this grind for your Chemex.
Grinding Tips for Chemex Brewing
Now that we know we’re aiming for a medium-coarse grind for the Chemex let’s talk about some grinding tips and advice.
Having the right coffee grinder and technique is vital to achieving that sweet spot in particle size.
As a self-professed coffee gearhead, I’ve tested my fair share of grinders over the years. Through trial and error, I’ve discovered some best practices when it comes to grinding for Chemex coffee perfection.
The bottom line, before anything else, is that you’ll want to use a high-quality burr grinder to unlock the full potential of this brew method.
Let me break down why.
Burr vs. Blade Grinders
- Burr grinders produce a more consistent and uniform grind
- The grind size can be more accurately adjusted
- Blades randomly chop up beans, leading to uneven particles
I always cringe when remembering my early Chemex experiments using an old blade grinder. No matter how carefully I set the grind, I’d end up with powdery fines clogging the filter alongside giant coffee chunks.
It made dialing in the correct size nigh impossible!
Upgrading to a quality burr grinder was a total game-changer. The uniformly-ground particles optimized extraction and I could adjust the settings to find that ideal medium-coarse level.
My Chemex cups became cleaner, sweeter, and more complex overnight. Suffice to say, burrs trump blades!
Achieving a Consistent Chemex Grind
- A quality burr grinder is a must
- Ensure the selected grind setting matches the target coarseness (play around with the grinder to find the right grind)
- Use proper grinder technique: Don’t overfill the hopper, and leave space below the burrs for the grounds
- Frequently clean grinder to prevent old oils from impacting flavor
If you invest in a capable burr grinder and master proper grinding technique, you’ll be well on your way to Chemex success!
I don’t know about you, but after deep-diving into all things to do with the Chemex grind, I’m craving a smooth, balanced cup of pour-over myself.
This unique oak-necked brewer has won over hordes of fans for good reason. When you select the right beans, dial in that medium-coarse grind profile, and nail your recipe and technique, the Chemex rewards you with an incredibly bright, sweet, and clean coffee experience.
To recap, remember that the proprietary thick filters make the Chemex special, but aim for a slightly coarser grind vs other manual drippers. Choose a high-quality burr grinder and master the medium-coarse setting for optimized extraction.
Still, feeling unsure about how to determine or use that ideal Chemex grind after reading this article?
No worries – making exceptional manual coffee takes practice. Embrace the trial and error, continue tweaking your parameters, and don’t neglect the cleaning.
Eventually, you’ll nail down delicious coffee that highlights precisely why you invested in this classic pour-over brewer. And remember – even less-than-perfect cups beat anything churned out by a pod machine!
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