It’s not every day that you see a success story like this one. Upon looking at it for the first time, you’d think that the Chemex is a rather new invention; it looks slick, fashionable, like something a 20-year-old coffee savant designed in their post-modern treehouse.
Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It was actually invented by the chemist (which is probably why it looks straight out of a chemistry set) and inventor, Peter Schumblom back in 1941. Although a lot of his inventions had already been somewhat popular during his day, he couldn’t have imagined the way that the Chemex would blossom almost a whole century after being invented.
It’s got to be hard inventing a brewing method all the way back in the 1940s that still works flawlessly to this day. While many other brewing methods have been significantly updated (and some are still being updated more frequently than the iPhone), the Chemex has remained essentially the same since its conception. The only thing that has changed is the design, to make it more appealing for today’s audience.
Still, the Chemex remains very true to its roots, with the classic model featuring the only addition of a cool wooden handle, fastened with a leather cord. Even this good-looking feature is there for the practical purpose of easier pouring. Besides this classical model, they also have a glass handle model, which is made completely out of glass and features a regular handle. There’s also a hand-made model, made entirely by hand by professional glassblowers!
Interestingly, Chemex has also put out what they call the Funnex — basically, the upper part of the Chemex. It lets you make coffee into whatever decanter you want. It’s like having a portable Chemex!
Now, let’s go over how to make coffee using a Chemex coffee maker:
What you’ll need:
- 50 grams of medium-fine coffee grounds
- 800 ml of water, between 197.6 F° (92 C°) and 204.8 F° (96 C°)
- A digital scale
- A bottleneck kettle
- One Chemex coffee filter
- Place the filter on the Chemex, 3-ply facing towards you.
- Rinse the filter with hot water, then discard the water.
- Place the Chemex on a coffee scale or similar, add coffee grounds.
- Tare the scale and start a timer.
- Pour 100 grams of water (197.6-204.8 F°).
- Let the coffee bloom for 30 seconds.
- Resume pouring the rest of the water very slowly, taking your time. At around two minutes and thirty seconds, you should finish.
- Discard the filter without pressing down on it.
- Serve and enjoy your freshly brewed Chemex coffee.
This method yields great results, particularly on dark roasts — if you have any espresso roasts laying around, this recipe is perfect for such coffees.
Chemex is said to have the best body out of all the other brewing methods. It produces a bright cup of coffee, never too acidic or too bitter.
One of the greatest things about Chemex is its versatility. You can easily make iced coffee using this coffee maker, like so:
Chemex Iced Coffee
What you’ll need:
- 200 grams of coffee ice cubes
- 30 grams coffee grounds, medium-coarse grind
- 300 ml water, 204.8 F° (96 C°)
Prepare by making a batch of coffee ice cubes. This will prevent your coffee from diluting down, which is the biggest danger when having iced coffee.
- Add ice cubes to the Chemex
- Add a filter, then coffee grounds. Pour about 100 ml and let bloom. After 15 seconds, pour the rest of the water.
- Serve and enjoy
The ratio is meant for strong coffee; you can easily use this same ratio with plain water cubes, using 150 grams of ice cubes instead. It’s also important to note that the pouring should be done as slowly as possible, to allow the coffee to be thoroughly extracted.
Tips For Better Chemex Coffee
Here are a few useful tips to help you get ahead in your Chemex game:
#1 — The nipple
All Chemex coffee makers have a small bump in the lower chamber; this is called “the nipple”. The nipple is actually there to mark the exact half capacity of your coffee maker, making it easier to eyeball water quantities and, more importantly, to achieve consistent results. If you purchase the six-cup model, the nipple marks three cups, and so on.
#2 — The Chemex Cup
Related to the previous one, be aware that what Chemex calls a “cup” is not the same as the American “cup” size. While a cup of coffee in America is usually 8 ounces, the Chemex cup is around 5 ounces. Take this into account when reading Chemex recipes!
#3 — Use A Gooseneck Kettle
Gooseneck kettles are not purely decorative. They allow much greater precision when pouring. This is especially important when brewing pour-over, as you have a greater area to cover and it is easy to overlook some parts, leading to wasted coffee grounds.
Once you have a gooseneck kettle, practice this spiraling motion beforehand so you get the hang of it. It is particularly important during the first pour, as you need to wet all grounds, allowing them to bloom and therefore degas — this is probably the most important step in a pour-over.
And with that, you’re ready to try your hand at making better Chemex coffee. It’s all about practice! Making coffee is just like a muscle. The more frequently you do it, the better you’ll get at it.