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What is the Chemex? (A Brief Introduction)

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Have you ever thought it was time to ditch those push-button coffee makers and get back to the basics of coffee making? Let’s be honest, in today’s modern world of electronic coffee makers the art of making a good cup of coffee has been lost to beeps, buttons, and hefty instruction manuals when all that’s really needed to brew a great cup is water, coffee, and a few brewing principles.

Let me introduce to you the Chemex pour-over coffee brewer: it’s simple, easy to use, and makes a darn good cup of coffee. Forget about those expensive coffee makers that you need a Ph.D. to operate; the Chemex brewer is one of the best coffee makers you’ll ever use.

Chemex brewing will whisk you back to the good ‘ole days as you pour water over the coffee grounds, filling your senses with the rich coffee aroma and reminding you of how coffee was really meant to be brewed.

If you want to know about the Chemex coffee maker you’ve landed on the right page because in this article I’m going to dive in headfirst and give you the ins and outs of the Chemex. So grab yourself a coffee and sit back and let’s crack on.

History of the Chemex Coffee Maker?

Okay, before we get ahead of ourselves it’s probably a good idea to understand a bit more about the Chemex.

The Chemex has been around since the early 1940s and was the brainchild of German inventor Peter Schlumbohm (1). The design of the Chemex has remained completely unchanged (right down to its leather cord and wood handle) since its invention.

The Chemex brewing method has gained popularity in recent years with many hipster baristas and coffee geeks who are enjoying a new found love for this classic pour-over coffee maker.

To be honest, the coffee made from a Chemex is very similar to that brewed in other manual pour-over coffee makers, but (there’s a but) with a lot more room for error during the brewing stage if you don’t know what you’re doing. YES, brewing in the Chemex can be a challenge especially for those of you new to manual drip, and if you’re transitioning from push-button coffee machines.

The Chemex has a lot of brewing variables that can go wrong. For example, you need to have the right Chemex filters, the correct coffee grind size plus you have to pay extra attention to your rate of pour. Confused?

Chemex Pour Over Instructions

The Chemex makes an aromatic, clean, delicious cup of coffee and it’s slow and hands-on brewing process makes it downright fun.

Before you begin, make sure you’ve got a Chemex Brewer (obviously) if not you can find a 6-cup Chemex over at Amazon, also the Chemex pre-folded paper filters find those here, coffee beans of your choosing, a good burr coffee grinder, and a decent coffee scale (for precise coffee measuring). Okay, let’s take a closer look at the basic pour-over Chemex instructions.

Step 1: Measure and Heat Your Water

Grab your kettle and bring to the boil double the amount of water you will need for the coffee brewing. If you aren’t sure of the amount, for a Chemex 6-cup you’ll need to boil roughly 1,200-1,400 grams. Once boiled let the water sit for 30 seconds to reach the best brewing temperature of around 205 degrees F (96 C).

Step 2: Measure and Grind Your Coffee Beans

Next, grab your coffee scale and weigh out 50-60 grams of coffee (or roughly four or five tablespoons of beans if you don’t own a scale). Once you’re happy with the number of beans grind them to a medium-coarse grind (a bit more towards the coarse side), similar to the consistency of table sea salt.

Medium-Coarse Grind

Step 3: Pre-Heat Your Chemex and Rinse

Pick up one of your Chemex pre-folded paper filters and place it into your Chemex ensuring that the triple-fold portion is facing the pour spout. Grab your kettle and pour in some water making sure to saturate the filter thoroughly. This will also help to pre-heat the Chemex as well as set the filter in place. After about a minute, you can pour the water out of the Chemex and into your cup to help pre-heat that too.

Step 4: Bloom Your Ground Coffee

Next, grab your ground coffee, and gently pour into the Chemex filter, make sure to give a little shake to help to flatten the “bed” which will give you a much more even pour. Pick up your kettle and slowly start to pour water into the filter, starting at the “bed’s” center.

Pour in just enough water to saturate the coffee grounds, as a rule of thumb pour in twice the amount of water to that of coffee into your grounds (example, 100 grams of water for 50 grams of coffee) – want more information on coffee brewing ratios? From the center slowly work your way outward but avoid pouring water directly onto the side of the filter.

Once you are happy that the coffee grounds have been well and truly saturated let it sit and “bloom” for one minute, this will allow the bubbles of carbon dioxide to gas off.

Step 5: The Chemex Pour Over

Once the “bloom” is complete, continue slowly pouring water over the coffee grounds in a circular motion. Ideally, you should pour at a rate that allows you to complete the brewing process in roughly 4-minutes.

Once the water has thoroughly filtered through the coffee grounds, remove the filter and pour the freshly brewed coffee into your favorite coffee cup and enjoy it!

The Chemex coffee maker
We love the Chemex coffee brewer and we often use it when a new batch of coffee beans arrives. We find that the Chemex really brings out all of the flavor subtleties of the coffee beans.

If you don’t already own a Chemex coffee maker and you’ve had no luck finding one in your local brick and mortar store you should be able to find a 6-cup Chemex over at Amazon along with the required paper filters.


(1) Chemex Corp.

Mark Morphew

Mark is a coffee addict. Also, he's the guy behind the coffee blog Bean Ground. You'll almost always find him in a caffeine-induced rant talking about everything to do with coffee! Mark has been active in the catering and hospitality industry for many years and is a proud member of the Speciality Coffee Association. Discover more about Mark here.

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