Brew Better Coffee Manually: The Chemex


Originally posted on the Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co. blog.

This week we are featuring a true classic of manual brewing devices, the Chemex. The Chemex was invented in 1941 by German inventor Peter Schlumbohm. Its hourglass design is a perfect balance between beautiful form and functionality, and has not changed over the years. The Chemex has been featured in numerous pop-culture ads, television shows, and movies throughout each decade.

From the Chemex website:

The Chemex coffeemaker is an elegant, one-piece, hourglass shaped vessel made of high quality, heat-resistant glass. The traditional model comes to you with a polished wood collar and leather tie. The collar serves as an insulated handle around the middle of the coffeemaker.

Few products in this century can match the flawless blending of design and function of the Chemex. Its visual elegance has earned it a place in the permanent collection of New York’s Corning Museum of Glass. The Chemex coffeemaker was also selected by the Illinois Institute of Technology as one of the 100 best designed products of modern times.

This is probably one of my favorite brewing methods. It brews an amazing cup of coffee and looks cool, all in a singular piece. When using a Chemex, you will want use their own custom filters. These come in either square or round cut forms and are folded into a cone. The extra thickness of the filter creates a slower extraction process than one might expect, considering the size of the opening in which the filter extends.

e54b4026dbd611e1b8031231380702ee_6As I have said before, the best cup comes from the ideal ratio of total dissolved solubles. Experiment with your grind settings and pouring rates and find the best combination that produces the best cup for you. Here are some basic guidelines for brewing with a Chemex:

  • Open folded Chemex filter and insert into Chemex with the multiple layered side facing the front.
  • Gently rinse your filter with hot water to reduce any paper taste and warm your Chemex.
  • Discard the water while keeping the filter in place and add your coffee. Start with a medium-coarse grind setting and adjust from there.
  • Pour enough water to fully saturate the grounds and let them de-gas (bloom) for about 45 seconds.
  • As with a V60, you will want to pour in a circular pattern, covering all grounds during brewing.
  • Maintain a consistent level of grounds throughout brewing. Don’t pour too quickly and don’t pause too long when pouring.
  • If your water filters through too quickly, adjust to a finer grind. If it clogs, adjust to a coarser grind.

For an 8 cup Chemex, I use a starting ratio of 50 grams of coffee and 700 grams of water. You can use those parameters to scale up or down depending on much you are brewing and adjust to taste.

Experiment, have fun, and enjoy a great cup of coffee in classic style!


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