Brewing Guide to Chemex - Instructions and Tips

About the Chemex Coffee Maker

Chemex Coffemaker IllustrationInvented by a chemist in 1941, the Chemex Coffee Maker is simple in appearance and in use but is extraordinary engineered to brew the best cup of coffee possible.  

This coffee brewer is an beautifully crafted, simple to use, organically shaped vessel made of high quality, borosilicate heat resistant glass that imparts no flavors of its own.  The Chemex Classic model is simplicity at its best and features a polished wood collar that protects your fingers from the heat.  Its available in three, six, eight, and ten cup versions. 

Also available is the Chemex Coffeemaker Glass Handle Series that feature beautifully curve glass handles that add an elegant but useful feature to the coffeemaker.  

Another popular option is the Chemex Coffeemaker Hand Blown Series that are completely handcrafted by skilled tradesmen utilizing ultra-clear glass and are available in three, five, eight, and thirteen ounces.  

Tip: These Coffeemakers and many others are measured using 5 oz. as 1 cup.  If you are use to today's American style 8-10 oz coffee mugs and use that reference as one cup, it may be advisable to order a size or two larger than you were initially considering. 

A hand blown Chemex Water Kettle is also available and is a pure testament to form following function.  Designed at end of the Art Deco era and with a touch of mid century modern, the water kettle is one of the most classy ways to boil up to two quarts of water.  A  "steam stopper"  valve directs steam up and out and the neck remains relatively cool to the touch and serves as a handle.  The Hand Blown Kettle also functions as a beverage server as its nonporous glass will not impart any flavors to any hot or cold liquid - this is one of the most elegant ways to present coffee and tea products to any guest. 

One of the key factors in making the Chemex Coffee Maker so functional is the proprietary filter paper. Not just any filter paper will work.  The extra thick filter is strong enough to be removed from the brewer without disintegrating and leaving you with used coffee grounds all over the place.  Stronger paper is also required to keep its shape so into doesn't slide down into the vessel.  The thick paper also traps sediment that other filters miss; this sediment is responsible for the bulk of the bitter taste often associated with other coffee brewing methods such as the basic french press.  However, the most important reason for the proprietary paper is to remove oils that quickly oxidize and become rancid giving a sour taste to the coffee and the removal of cholesterol from the coffee infusion.  

Together with the advanced filter paper, the non-pourous glass prevents off flavoring and if sealed using the Chemex Glass Coffeemaker Cover or other other methods, can be stored in the refrigerator and be served cold or reheated without loosing flavor and without becoming sour.  The process to brew the coffee is very simple.  Use these steps, tips, and techniques to brew up the perfect batch.   

Brewing with a Chemex Coffeemaker - Instructions and Tips

Step 1 Boil WaterStep 1.
Start off by boiling some water.
Once your kettle or pot has finished boiling let it sit for a few moments to cool down to the optimal temperature - around 200°F.  This is one of the best parts of this brewing system, you get to control the temperature.  Good temp all the time, no more weak coffee from old drip machines that are notorious for brewing at too low of temperature - especially as they age.


Step 2 Place filter in the top section and wet itStep 2.
Place filter into the top section of the brewer and wet it.
Taking care to let the thicker, 3-layered side of the filter face the spout.  Pour some water over to the filter to wet it.  Get rid of the water collected in the vessel by pouring it out, the filter should stick in place.  TIP:  Alternatively, you can first wet the filter under hot tap water - this should remove any chance of have a paper taste imparted to the coffee.  


Step 3 Put in your grounds and wet them with hot waterStep 3.
Put in coffee grounds and wet them.
Why wet them?  Its calling "blooming" and opens up the coffee particles, letting more of the
oils break away into the hot water.
How: While the temperature is still optimal - 195 to 205°F, pour water over the
grounds until there just about to start floating.  Let it sit there for a few
moments.  In other words, soak the coffee grounds a bit.


How much coffee to use?
About 8 grams per 5oz cup. That’s two flat tablespoons for mild roasted coffee.  Heap them just a little if you’re going to use a darker/Italian roast as they are lighter and therefore take up more volume.
What about the grind?
Like all coffee preparation, the grind is important.  If you are using pre-ground coffee, "regular" grind (the kind made for the old perculator pots) works much better than the "automatic drip" grind made for modern coffee makers.  However, drip grind will work, albeit at slower pace.   We really recommend grinding fresh roasted beans obtained from your local coffee roaster or the internet using either a high quality hand operated burr grinder or an electric burr grinder.  Read more about grinders.  Blade grinders are not recommended as they are suitable for spice grinding only.  We recommend the Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder as the biggest bang for the buck in electric burr coffee grinders.    

Step 4 Pour the waterStep 4.
Pour the water.
Now you can start pouring the water gently into the coffee grounds.  Try to distribute evenly, not just pouring it from one side.  Let the brewer fill according to how much coffee is in the filter.



Step 5.Step 5 Remove the filter Remove the filter.
They are disposable and both filter and coffee grounds can be com-posted.  If you've purchased the optional Chemex lid, put it on to keep the coffee warm until you serve it into cups.  Enjoy!




Other Chemex Coffeemaker Tips

Use some boiled water to preheat your coffee cups, like the coffee shops do.  This makes sure your coffee doesn't drop a couple of degrees when you pour it into the cup.

The more coffee you brew at a time the better. Brewing just one cup lets a lot of its heat escape.  A bit of a paper taste is also said to creep in.  Plus it’s fun to be around fellow coffee lovers.

Coffee should not be brewed with boiling water, this will burn it, giving it a bitter taste.  Brewing temperature is around 200°F.  If you have a thermometer around, why not measure?  If not, then letting the boiled water sit for half a minute does the job. 

An electric kettle that has temperature control or a stove top kettle with a built in thermometer is a very good investment and will make life so much easier if you are using the Chemex Coffee Maker, french press, or other pour over methods on a regular basis.

Although it may look like a flower vase, or something that belongs in a Haiku, the functionality of the Chemex Coffee Maker blends beautifully with its elegant, organic form and most importantly, brews an excellent, lively cup with a tasty bouquet of flavors.  Go to the Chemex Product Page.

Graphics by Josh Ponelat, © 2014 ClickPretty, LLC and Cup And Brew.  All rights reserved.

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