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’s a Chemex?
This quirky device uses the process of heat and slow saturation of the grounds to extract the bold, robust flavor from the beans. The thick filters that the Chemex requires also ensures the absence of sediment leftover in your coffee, a common flaw of other brewing methods like the French Press.
So you want to try your hand at a Chemex, eh? We’ve got all you need to know right here! Keep reading to find out how you can spice up your coffee game with this efficient and down-right-fun device.
What You Need
- Chemex Brewer
- Chemex pre-folded paper filters
- Freshly roasted coffee beans of your choosing
- Hand Burr Grinder or Automatic Grinder
- Scale for coffee measuring (or tablespoon)
- Electric Gooseneck Kettle or Stovetop Kettle
- Mugs or Tumblers (I recommend a YETI Tumber)
1. Measure & Heat The Water
Measure your desired amount of water. It’s recommended to use 1 cup (8 ounces/ 226 grams) of water for every 16 grams (.5 ounces) of coffee. Of course, if you desire your coffee to be a bit stronger, you can either up your grams of coffee used or just lessen the amount of water used in your pour.
Before you begin to brew, you need to make sure that the water is heated enough to extract the rich flavors in the coffee. Heat your water to 205 degrees F (96 C), or simply boil and remove for 30 seconds.
Tip: It will also save you time if you add a little bit more water than needed (about 1/3 or 1/2 cup) to brew with because you’ll use that extra amount to clean the filter beforehand.
2. Measure & Grind the Beans
When grinding beans for your Chemex, or buying coffee that’s already ground up for you, it’s important to keep in mind how big those grounds are. It’s recommended to use a medium grind, which has about the same amount of coarseness as sand.
Beans can be ground either really fine, almost powdery (which is really good for espresso) or really coarsely. Chemex brewing times normally take anywhere from 4-6 minutes depending on how much you’re brewing at once and how big it is.
However, if you notice that your water may be pouring through the grounds too quickly, try grinding your coffee a little finer. This will prevent under-extraction, making your coffee taste weak. Likewise, if you think the water is pouring too slowly and is struggling to push through the grounds, try grinding more on the coarse side. This will prevent over-extraction and keep your coffee from losing its flavor tasting too bitter.
Using about 14-17 grams of coffee per cup (wiggle room here for personal taste preference), grind your beans in (we really recommend this) a burr grinder. These grinders are ideal because they’re manually operational, but they also grind the grounds to a uniform size.
3. 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. By pouring water through the filter, you eliminate any papery taste from altering your coffee, and you’re also pre-heating the Chemex so it’s already warm when you begin to brew.
4. Bloom The Coffee
When the water is ready, put the grounds in the filter and pour just enough water to saturate them. Let it sit and “bloom” for one minute, allowing bubbles of carbon dioxide to gas off.
Blooming occurs when carbon dioxide gas is released from the coffee grounds as they come in contact with the hot water. The coffee will rise and create bubbles as the gasses release, making the coffee look like its blooming.
5. The Pour Over
Once the bloom is complete, slowly pour the water over the coffee in either a side-by-side or circular motion. It’s best to do this in intervals so the water is able to better saturate the grounds evenly and the flavor is extracted as much as possible. Lightly stirring the grounds when mixed with water is optional to better saturate the grounds.
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.
Cold Brew: Chemex Style
Not a fan of hot coffee? The Chemex is also useful for making a refreshing cup of ice-cold coffee as well. There are several methods to making cold brew coffee, but for this article we’re going to focus on the immersion method.
What we mean by immersion
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