Chemex Brewing Guide - How to Brew Coffee

chemex brew guide

The Chemex remains an essential staple in the arsenal of all coffee lovers.

The timeless design has remained unchanged (wooden handle, leather, tapered glass, and everything in between) since its inception in 1941 by Peter Schlumbohm. Schlumbohm's designs are described as "a synthesis of logic and madness", and we wholeheartedly agree. Chemex is part of MOMA's permanent design portfolio and was named "one of the best-designed products of modern times".

Chemex coffee is similar to American drip coffee, but there is more room for error. To ensure the best results, grind your beans more coarsely than you would with a ceramic drip and pay special attention to the rate of your pour. This high level of care will result in a perfectly nuanced coffee with more than enough to share with friends.

What do you need

Chemex filter
Hario Grinder
42g (6 tablespoons) coffee
Boiling hot water (about 205 ° F)
Brew time
3-4 minutes

We recommend starting with 1:18 coffee-to-water ratio. This will provide the best extraction level maximizing the flavor gained from the ground coffee. Do not hesitate to adjust to your taste - weaker or stronger.

Before you start brewing with your Chemex

For best results, we recommend starting with whole beans. Grinding with a coffee grinder immediately before mixing with water will ensure the compounds that create the delightful aromas and flavors are preserved.

While this may seem complicated, we suggest using a scale. It will make the brewing process much easier and remove any guesswork from the process.

Lastly, when compared to a traditional kettle, a gooseneck kettle will give you greater control over the pouring speed and where the water hits the coffee.

Step 1: prepare and preheat

Heat the water to 205 degrees, bring it to a boil and let it sit for 30 seconds.

Unfold the filter and place it in the upper Chemex compartment. Make sure the three-ply side faces the spout and lies flat without obstructing it. This will allow air to escape during the brewing process.

Rinse the filter with plenty of water, about 16oz, to prevent the taste of the paper from affecting the drink. It also preheats your Chemex.

Once completely saturated, tilt the Chemex on a sink to discard the rinse water. Do not be tempted to remove the filter to empty it faster; It can be difficult to replace it after removing it.

2. Weigh and grind the coffee

Grind the coffee and add it to the Chemex filter. Add 42g or about 6 tablespoons of coffee grinds in the form of kosher salt. Check that the weight of the coffee has not changed after grinding, then tare the scale again to zero. Center the coffee with a slight shake of your Chemex.

This will flatten the bed, allowing for a more even water pour.

3. Saturate the grounds

There will be four total pours. Start the timer when you add the first pour of hot water.

Starting at the center of the bed, gently pour twice the amount of water as grams of coffee (for example, 50 grams of water if you have 25 grams of coffee) by avoiding the sides of the filter and working your way outward.

Pour until all the coffee grounds are saturated or until it reaches about 150 g. The target is even saturation. A slow pour in a clockwise pattern is best. Do not worry if you see a few drops fall through the filter. This bloom allows the coffee to de-gas, allowing the water to produce the full potential of coffee.

This is an essential step to never rush: wait 45 seconds. Stir with a spoon or, perhaps a chopstock, to make sure there are no dry lumps.

4. Add more water

At 45 seconds, start the second pour, making sure to reintegrate the water and coffee. Pour the water in a circular pattern that begins in the center. Spiral to the edge before a spiraling return pour to the center. Be sure to avoid pouring directly on the filter.

Let the water drip through the coffee grounds until the slurry drops 1 inch from the bottom of the filter. You should use about 200g of water for this pour.

5. Repeat Pours

Repeat the same pour pattern as in step 4, adding water in 200 gram increments. Repeat again, allowing water to pass through the grounds until the slurry drops 1 inch from the bottom of the filter before the next pour begins.

Pour over any dark spots and avoid light spots, making sure the grounds are never exposed to air until the end of the brew. The water flow from the kettle should be slow enough to fall straight down onto the grounds, not at an angle.

Once the drops slow to every couple of seconds, the brew has finished. If your grind was correct and you poured the water at the right speed, it should take 4 to 5 minutes.

6. Wait for it to brew

At 4 minutes, it should be very close to volume. Look at the glass bubble, which indicates 20 ounces. Lift the filter. There is no problem hovering over the mouse for a few seconds to make sure you have enough volume. Then remove the filter completely and allow it to drain into the sink.

If the brewing is too fast, consider using a finer grind or a slower pouring rate the next time. If the brewing is too slow, consider using a more coarse grind or a faster pouring speed.

7. Serve and taste

Swirl the brewed coffee in the Chemex a bit and you're ready to serve two cups of coffee.

Remove the filter and discard it. Pour into a hot cup, serve and enjoy!

Chemex Brewing Tips

Coffee becomes bitter when it’s over-extracted; that is to say when a large part of the organic content of the bean is pulled into the hot water.

Check your ground coffee - does it contain too much coffee powder or "fines"? In this case, it is possible that they are extracted faster than the others and that the coffee is more bitter. Consider using a burr grinder to get a more uniform grinding size.

If the brewing lasts more than 4 minutes, try to thicken the grinding a little.

The ideal water temperature is around 200°, which can be achieved by boiling the water and letting it sit for one minute. Hot boiling water can burn the coffee, while lukewarm water will under-extract leading to a weak cup of joe.

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