Chemex Coffee Brewing – The Definitive Guide

Simon Calvin
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A Chemist’s Creation

During the late 1930s, Dr. Peter Schlumbohm was a self-described “chemicist with a love of coffee.” Schlumbohm basically had two passions—chemistry and coffee – and while working as an avocational chemist, he discovered a unique method of brewing coffee that revolutionized the way America made its cup of Joe.

Schlumbohm’s voyage into the coffee and chemistry realms began as he traveled through the Amazon with a friend. In a letter dated March 16, 1937, Schlumbohm wrote about his return to his native New York, describing the effects of his excursion.

“I looked at the brown waters of the Orinoco and saw the primitive look of the natives. I look at brown coffee with the same eyes.”

Schlumbohm later invented a machine to prepare magnificent cups of coffee, naming it the Chemex. Its appearance was very different from traditional coffee pots; instead of a stream of cascading coffee, the Chemex concentrated the coffee in a layer, which provided a clean taste and an immediate aroma contact.

What is a Chemex Coffee Maker?

The Chemex coffee maker was introduced in 1941 by the Silex company in Jersey City, New Jersey. Irene and Peter Schlumbohm, the owners of Silex, were looking for a way to produce a slow drip coffee maker.

The Schlumbohm's had previously founded another company called Chemex which produced scientific equipment. Peter Schlumbohm was therefore familiar with glass tubing and sought to design a way to combine pure glass with a coffeemaker. He produced the Chemex Coffee Maker by layering seven identical, but parallel, glass rectangles to produce a seven layered filter bed that centered on a tube of glass. This provided a bed of seven "drip points" from which coffee could drip.

The Chemex Coffee Maker is simple in its design, durable, and elegant in appearance. In 2005, the Chemex Coffee Maker was chosen as one of the 100 Designs that changed the 20th Century by the Museum of Modern Art. From its humble beginnings in the 1940’s, the Chemex has developed into a tremendously popular method of brewing coffee that is considered to be among the best for taste and aroma.

Chemex Brewing – Step by Step Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the Chemex. Use a butter knife to wipe the inside of the Chemex to remove any excess oils. Pour a generous amount of hot water into the brewer until it drains out the bottom.

Step 2: Place filter in filter basket. Place 2 rounded tablespoons for every 6 ounces of water into the filter. Flip filter over and fold excess cloth over the rest of the filter and pivot it around the edges into the filter. Use two hands to arrange the filter and crease the edges around the filter into the bottom of the cone neck.

Step 3: Preinfusion. Add water to the brewer like you would make a cup of tea, creating an extraction of water and coffee grounds. The goal is to wet all the grounds with water. Leave the brewer in this position for 30 seconds.

Step 4: Rinse and Add Coffee. Discard the first water and fill the brewer with water again to wet all the grounds. Pour the water out.

Step 5: Add Coffee. Leave the brewer in the rinsing position. Add the first scoop of coffee, making sure to wet all the grounds.

Step 6: Wet Harness. Pour ½ of the remaining water into the grounds, gently shaking the brewer to wet all grounds.

Step 7: Wet Grounds. Pour the remaining water. Again, gently shake the brewer to wet all grounds.

Mastering the Art of Chemex Brewing

Video: Chemex Brewing Guide

This is the definitive guide on how to brew Chemex coffee at home.

The Chemex brewer is one of the easiest ways to brew consistently great coffee. It's a household name for a reason. The glass carafe and solid wood base are heavy, stable, and durable. The attached wooden handle makes it easy to pour. And the versatile bell collar allows you to make either small 1 cup servings or larger 8 cup servings.

Chemex brewers are simple to use, easy to clean, and easy to maintain. And the filters are available in a variety of sizes to accommodate coffee drinkers with any palate or budget.

In this video, we'll go over all the important steps to follow so you can brew perfect coffee with the Chemex brewer.

Here are the steps:

{1}. Measure out and grind 18 grams of coffee.
{2}. Preheat a medium-sized kettle filled with just under 2 liters of filtered water.
{3}. Put 18 grams of ground coffee into the filter.
{4}. Put the filter into the brewer and center it.
{5}. Pour the water into the center of the filter.
{6}. Let the coffee steep for 3:30.
{7}. Remove the lid and gently remove the filter.
{8}. Pour the coffee into your brewer of choice.
{9}. Enjoy.

Leftover Coffee, Yes Please!

Coffee is delicious, packed with antioxidants, and can be enjoyed hot or cold. So why throw it away?

The most efficient way to use leftover coffee to its maximum potential is by making iced coffee.

Here are three of our favorite iced coffee recipes:

  • Half iced coffee, half club soda
  • Mix half hot coffee, half club soda
  • Mix instant coffee with ice in a blender

When you waste coffee, you're not only wasting the flavor, but throwing out precious calories and money. Enjoy your coffee, and reap the health benefits.

Choosing a Chemex Filter

The Paper:

The coffee filter is fundamental to the Chemex. There are a number of different types of filters you can use, some for Chemex, some for drip, and some for other types of coffee making. For your Chemex, you want a filter that will maintain its consistency. To achieve that, you need to be sure you buy the right type of filter.

The most common types of filters available are made of three types of paper – traditional brown coffee filters, bleached white coffee filters, and bleached white coffee filters with a layer of polymer mixed in.

The first two types are more traditional coffee filters. The brown ones are coarse and will result in a bolder, more chocolatey taste. The white coffee filters, on the other hand, will bring out the more subtle and flowery notes. Your choice comes down to what you want from your coffee.

The third type of filter is the bleached white coffee filters with the layer of polymer in them. This is the Chemex filter. It makes use of the Chemex design to get the most of your coffee. Unlike brown filters, this type is more consistent and less likely to be affected by the variables that affect the other two types. This means you get to enjoy a more flavorful, more consistent cup of coffee every time.

Paper Filters vs. Other Filters

Coffee filters come in a variety of sizes and materials, so choosing the right filter for your coffee can be a daunting task. Paper filters are standard and generally less expensive; they are a good choice for most coffee brewing methods, although they can affect the taste of your coffee slightly. Metal filters are more commonly used for pre-ground coffee, but they do work well with small amounts of whole beans.

For coffee connoisseurs, the ultimate choice is a Chemex coffee filter. Chemex filters are made of a micro-filter paper and are very high quality. In fact, these filters are made out of the same material used to produce coffee filters for the best automatic drip coffeemakers.

In addition, Chemex filters don’t just filter the coffee but actually remove the oils and sediments present in the coffee. Each filter’s pleated design makes it very sturdy and allows for a slow flowing filtration process. Filter drip makers are sold in different sizes (6, 8, 10, and 12 cup) and all of them are equally suited for Chemex coffee filters.

Where to Purchase Your Chemex

Purchasing a Chemex coffee brewer is the most important part of this process. This is where you will find a great selection to choose from! They have a good selection of sizes and they source their products from all over the world. The owner of this company has been in the business for over 30 years and has a great reputation in the industry. They also have great customer service and a great money back guarantee policy that is bigger than most other companies. The customer reviews on their website are also some of the best out of the batch brewers offered on the market today.

It’s also important that you purchase the best Chemex brand filter papers and they can be found here. Try to purchase them in packages of 100, so that you don’t have to have to place an order every few months. Order a few extra to have on hand, you will appreciate this this when they wear out and you can’t brew any coffee. While you’re on their website, be sure to check out their other products. They offer everything from carafes to Chemex accessories that make brewing coffee even easier.

Cleaning Your Chemex

When you have finished brewing your coffee, remove the filter and put it to the side. Then, take your Chemex carafe and the soft, white, Micro-Mesh filter and run hot water over both of them to remove excess grounds and to get the glass hot.

Once the Chemex carafe is hot, fill it with hot water and add a little dish soap to the water. Swish it around the inside of the carafe and allow it to sit for a few minutes to loosen up the grounds. Use either a soft sponge or a paper towel to get rid of the soil.

Once you have the carafe clean, run hot water into it and pour a little into your empty coffee filter to begin flushing the filter out. Repeat this process until the water runs clear.

After the last flush, rinse out the filter and allow the water to drain out.

Try your favorite beans!

If you are a fan of a medium to dark roast, try using a full city roast and brew for a bit less time.

If you like a milder tasting cup, try using a full city roast and brew for a bit longer.

If you like a brighter tasting cup, try using a full city roast and brew for the same amount of time.

If you tried these suggestions and they aren’t to your liking, try the opposite next time.