How to Brew Coffee With a ChemexCLICK HERE to subscribe to our weekly emails on finding and brewing amazing coffee!
I have to say it: of all the gadgets and methods I get to try out, the Chemex is my favorite. It makes a clean, aromatic, delicious cup of coffee. More importantly, it’s a slow, involved process, and it’s downright fun. For someone aspiring to real coffee connoisseurship, this thing is a joy.
What You Need
- Chemex Brewer
- Chemex pre-folded paper filters
- Freshly roasted coffee beans of your choosing
- Scale for coffee measuring (or tablespoon)
- Gooseneck Kettle (electric or stovetop)
- Mugs or Tumblers
How to Brew It
Measure & Heat The Water
Put about 2 cups or 500 grams of water in your kettle. To weigh, you’ll need to put the kettle on the scale, press tare, then weigh it.
Heat water to 205 degrees F (96 C), or simply boil and remove for 30 seconds. We were going for enough brew to fill one tall mug, but you can up the amount to 8 cups if you so choose. Just make sure to adjust your coffee measurement accordingly.
Tip: Heat about 1/2 cup of extra water separately, to pre-heat and rinse the filter.
Measure & Grind the Beans
Grind your beans to a medium consistency, about 30 grams (or 2 tablespoons) worth. If you are using a light or medium roast, use a little more. If you are using a dark roast, try to stick close to the 30 grams.
We are using around a 1:17 ratio. Keep in mind if you use another ratio, your measurements will look a little different.
Pre-Heat & Rinse
Open a paper filter and place it in the brewer. With the extra 1/2 cup of water, thoroughly rinse the filter. This will also pre-heat and set the filter in place.
To remove the water, simply hold the filter in place and pour it out. Make sure it’s out before you put the. grounds in the filter though!
Bloom The Coffee
When the rest of the water is ready, put the grounds in the filter and pour just enough water to saturate them. You will notice bubbles rising to the surface. These are from the carbon dioxide degassing, and the fresher your roast is, the more bubbles there will be.
Let it sit and “bloom” for one minute. This will help improve the brew because it’ll be easier for the water to get into and through the grounds to extract flavor without all the CO2 pouring out.
The Pour Over
Once the bloom is complete, slowly pour the water over the coffee in either a side-by-side or circular motion. Be sure to saturate the grounds evenly and completely.
We used a gooseneck kettle, which is by and large the best tool to use for any pour over method. The tall, thin spout slows the water flow down a bit and gives you much more control.
Serve and Enjoy!
Once the coffee is fully filtered, toss the grounds and enjoy. If you like your coffee hotter, the Chemex can be heated on a glass or gas burner, but never on an electric coil burner. A separate adapter is sold for that.
Can You Do Cold Brew?
If you are into cold brew, you may be wondering if your Chemex can serve a double purpose you’re home. And the short answer to that inquiry is that it can… but not on its own. It’s also definitely not the best option out there.
Unlike a French Press, which is another tool often used for cold brew, the coffee is separated from the grounds as the water flows through a paper filter. So in order to make a cold brew with a Chemex, you would need another container to get the job done.
The easiest thing to use would be a wide mouth mason jar. Simply put the grounds and water into the mason jar and steep. Then, place the paper filter in your Chemex and pour the brew through. The filter will catch the grounds and you can enjoy crisp, refreshing cold brew out of your Chemex.
However, this method is not ideal for a few reasons:
Working Harder, Not Smarter
Using your Chemex for cold brew is just a little frivolous. The Chemex is only really acting as a filter-holder and/or a storage device at best.
If you decide you actually want to steep your cold brew in the Chemex, the procedure would be a little laughable. Once the coffee was done steeping, you would first need to pour the brew into another container. Then, you would have to rinse out the Chemex to make sure there were no grounds in it.
Lastly, you would have to put in a filter, pour the brew back into the Chemex to filter it. Then you could either leave the brew in the Chemex, which is not ideal, or you would have to pour it into another airtight store container. To round it all off, you’d need to wash he Chemex again.
If you opt to store your cold brew concentrate in your Chemex after filtering it, the brew is not going to last as long as it ordinarily would. Normally, you can get about a week out of the brew, but you’ll shorten that by a couple days or more if you leave it uncovered.
Perhaps the biggest reason to use something other than a Chemex for the majority of your cold brewing is to avoid purchasing another brew tool for your day to day.
Steeping coffee for cold brew takes between 14 to 20 hours, which means you could be without your go to brew tool all day. Furthermore, if you decide to store the concentrate in the Chemex too, it could be out of commission for an entire week.
What we Recommend…
If you have a Chemex and you want to make cold brew, the best thing to use it for is to filter your brew only and save money on buying specialized cold brew equipment. You can just buy a mason jar to steep and store and use the Chemex to conveniently filter it in between those stages.
What is the best coffee to water ratio?
Chemex is a Pour Over tool, so you’ll be using the same ratios as you would for any other tool of that type. We recommend using a scale for these measurements because accuracy and consistency is particularly important with Pour Over tools.
As a general rule, a 1:17 coffee to water ratio is a good place to start. Weigh the amount of water you plan on using, divide by 17 and voila! That’s how much you coffee grounds should weigh.
If you haven’t yet been able to get your hands on a scale, you can use 1-2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water.
How do you boost your brew strength?
The 1:17 ratio is not a hard and fast rule. Additionally, changing the ratio a bit between 1:16 to 1:18 can produce a slightly stronger or weaker brew respectively.
Additionally, changing your roast can also change the strength of your brew. For lighter roasts you’ll need to use a bit more grounds by weight, and darker roasts will require less grounds to achieve the same strength level.
Due to that, if you get a darker roast and use a higher coffee to water ratio, you can achieve a considerably strong brew.
Why is a medium grind necessary?
Now, we mentioned that you will need to use a medium grind for your Chemex. But why is that?
With a pour over, your goal is to slow down the water enough to get a good level of extraction. If you use a grind that is too coarse, the water will flow through too quickly, making the brew taste under-extracted.
On the other hand, if the grind is too fine, the water will be trapped too long and over extract your coffee. A medium grind will put you in the middle of those two options.
Thankfully grinders tend to be the most consistent around their medium grind settings. So just about any grinder you get will be able to handle grinding for a Chemex.
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