How To Use A Chemex

How To Use a Chemex

The Chemex is a design icon (part of MoMA’s permanent collection) thanks to a quirky, eclectic mash-up of laboratory-like features and natural materials. What makes the Chemex truly unique, however, is the design of its proprietary bonded coffee filters which are considerably heavier than others and result in an unmatched clean cup.

This makes the Chemex a perfect choice for enjoying more acidic or floral light roast coffees that take on an almost tea-like quality (though it’ll brew you a delicious dark roast as well). The learning curve is a little steeper than other methods but most home-brewers have no trouble making really good coffee after a little practice. If you feel like making a bit more or less coffee, our recipe is totally adjustable, just use a gram of coffee for every 16 grams of water.

What You Need

  1. Chemex ( 8 Cup )
  2. Paper Filter ( Chemex Square or Circular )
  3. Gooseneck Kettle
  4. Scale (Optional)
  5. 198 – 205 Degree Fahrenheit ( 24 oz / 700 ml )
  6. Medium – Coarse Ground Coffee ( 1.5 oz / 43 g )


1. Prep Filter

Unfold the filter with the three-fold side facing the spout. This is important to prevent the filter from collapsing into the spout when it gets wet.

2. Rinse

Rinse the filter with plenty of hot water to help “seal” it against the glass and remove the papery taste — it also preheats your Chemex. Discard this rinse water (magically, you don’t actually need to take out the filter to pour out your water) and set up your brewer on a kitchen scale.

3. Add Grounds

Now’s the time to grind your beans on a medium-coarse setting on your coffee grinder, which is a little coarser than for most other pour overs. Chemex paper filters are designed with a thickness and shape that can restrict the flow of water through the coffee grounds, so this medium-coarse grind size will keep things flowing.

Add your grinds and tare scale.

4. Bloom Coffee

The perfect bloom is easy to achieve, here’s how:

  • You want your water temperature around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, so wait at least 20 seconds off the boil, as using boiling water can extract some harsh flavors.
  • Start a timer and slowly pour filtered water equalling double the weight of the coffee (about 3 oz or 84 g).
  • Make sure to evenly saturate all the grounds, hitting any spots that are still dry after your initial pour (this is where having a gooseneck kettle’s pour spout really helps).
  • You’ll notice carbon dioxide bubbles exiting the coffee grounds, especially if you’re working with freshly roasted coffee.
  • Wait 30 seconds.

5. Pour Water

Slowly pour water in a spiral or circular motion until the water level reaches around a half inch below the top rim of the brewer. When the level drops by about an inch (you don’t want to see the top of that coffee bed while brewing) pour again and repeat as needed until you’ve used all the water. With as much water as you’re using in this recipe, you’ll want to get all your water in at around two minutes.

For a tasty flash-chilled coffee, use half as much water as usual and weigh out a half batch’s worth of ice (for this recipe, 350 g) directly in your carafe. You’ll have to pour a lot slower, but the coffee will drip directly onto the ice for tasty iced coffee.

6. Let Drip

Keep an eye on the water level as it drips and when you start to see the coffee grounds appear, remove the filter and let it drain in the sink (the last few drops of water can be a little bitter). The timer should read between 3:30 to 4:30 minutes. If your water is taking too much time to drip through, try either pouring faster or grinding a little coarser next time. If it’s going through too quickly, pour slower or grind finer.

7. Serve

The Chemex carafe is a beautiful serving vessel, so bring it over to the table for a nice centerpiece, or just pour your coffee into mugs and serve right away. To clean up, just dump the drained filter in the trash and rinse the Chemex with any hot water remaining in your kettle.

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