Have you ever heard of a Chemex before? If so, you’ve probably seen it on Instagram. The beautiful glass and wood just begs to be photographed! But the Chemex is so much more than its looks – it’s also one of the best ways to make smooth, bright coffee at home. Before you purchase yourself one, we’re here to provide you with the ultimate chemex coffee guide so you know exactly how to brew speciality coffee with it.
What is a Chemex?
The Chemex coffeemaker is a type of pour-over system which comprises of an hourglass shaped vessel and a specially designed filter. The thick filter is what makes this brewing method truly unique. The Chemex filters are much more densely woven than traditional coffee filters. They help to regulate the flow of coffee while removing much of the body and coffee oils. The filter slows down the flow of water passed through it, resulting in a better developed flavour.
The traditional Chemex is made from heat resistant glass and has a wood collar and a leather tie. These aren’t just to make the Chemex look good, though. The collar acts as an insulated handle, so you can pick it up and pour with ease. The engineering and beauty of the Chemex is so renowned that it is part of the permanent collection of the New York’s Corning Museum of Glass.
But as we said at the start, the Chemex is more than its looks. It was actually inspired by laboratory glassware such as beakers, and so it doesn’t absorb odours or residues that might affect the flavour of your coffee.
Why do home coffee drinkers love it?
- Nuanced flavour – one of the main draws of the Chemex is, of course, the nuanced coffee that results from it. It’s a great way to make a smooth and bright cup of coffee. It’s pretty much the opposite of a French press, as it results in a cup that is low in body and super clean, rather than heavy body. This is because of the Chemex’s filters. They are thicker, and therefore trap moe oils in the paper as the coffee is extracted. Take one of our speciality filter coffees, and you’ll really taste the gentle fruity flavours using this brew method.
- Beautiful looks – if you’re looking for a highly photogenic brewing method, the Chemex is absolutely the best choice due to the combination of glass, wood, and leather. It will look stunning on your kitchen countertop and make you feel like you’re truly making cafe quality coffee at home.
- Ease of use – the Chemex is also extremely easy to use, as we will discuss below! Cleaning it is also very easy – you just need to wash it with soap and a long-handled bottle brush. Alternatively, you can also remove the wood collar and pop it into the dishwasher.
- Size – finally, the size of this particular brewing method can be quite versatile. You can purchase different sizes of Chemex which can brew up to 8 cups of coffee – perfect for when you have guests over! Other sizes brew 2-4 cups, which are better if you’re just brewing for yourself.
What you’ll need:
- Digital scales – this is to weigh your coffee. It’s not essential but it’ll dramatically improve your quality as you’ll know exactly how much coffee to water you’re using. Once you’ve mastered the recipe you can then replicate for the best cup of coffee daily.
- Filter papers
- Freshly ground speciality coffee beans – these will need to be ground medium fine. If you order from our shop and you don’t have a grinder at home, that’s not a problem. We grind fresh coffee beans right before shipping them to you.
- Filtered water – for more information about why filtered water is the best for brewing coffee, head here!
Next up? Work out how many cups you’d like to make.
Balance Coffee Brewing Scale:
- For 1 cup (15g of coffee to 250g water)
- For 2 cups (30g of coffee to 500g of water)
- For 3 cups (45g of coffee to 750g of water)
- For 4 cups (60g of coffee to 1000g or 1L of water)
- Rinse your filter with hot water. This will get rid of papery flavour and will preheat your brewing gear. Discard the water before brewing.
- Put your coffee grounds into the filter. If using the 3 cup method, pour water (approx 84g) on your freshly ground coffee bed and wait 40 seconds or so to pre-infuse.
- Then pour the rest of the water in a slow circular movement. Try not to hold your kettle too high. When you finish swirl your brewer in a circular motion, this will even out the coffee bed and give you a better extraction.
- Wait for 4-5 minutes, pour and enjoy!
How to overcome common coffee-brewing problems:
“My coffee is too weak” – use less water, use more coffee, or use a finer grind
“My coffee is too strong” – use more water, less coffee, or a coarser grind
“My coffee is too bitter” – you’ve over-extracted the coffee, use a coarser grind
“My coffee is too sour” – you’ve under-extracted the coffee, use a finer grind
It’s important to think about the coffee beans you’re using when brewing with a Chemex. We would recommend using nuanced, light roast coffees. For example, any of our single origin coffees would be perfect. While some coffee blends might work with the Chemex (such as our own speciality blends), we would absolutely steer clear of any dark roast beans. Dark roasts burn off all of the delicate, nuanced flavours found in coffee – and these are what the Chemex is designed to bring out! If you’d like to learn more about the differences between different bean roasts, head here.
And if you’re not sure if the Chemex sounds like it’s for you, then check out our other recommended home equipment. You can also read our ultimate guide to the Hario V60, the cafetiere, and the Aeropress.
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