How to Make Chemex Coffee
If you’re used to brewing with a traditional drip pot, a manual pour over method like a Chemex might seem inaccessible, but in reality, it’s very simple.
Better yet, if you are used to loading up your coffee with cream and sugar, the lighter-bodied cup produced by a Chemex could be your gateway into a wonderful life of taking your coffee black.
What Should You Expect from a Chemex?
Chemex brewing will often yield a smoother cup than many typical methods. The biggest difference, however, may be the light body and thin mouthfeel — depending on your approach.
- Traditional Chemex guides promote utilizing thick paper filters. It’s important to note that using the filters may wick away bitterness, but will also wick away many essential oils. This will yield a thinner, lighter-bodied cup.
- We, however, prefer a fuller-bodied coffee. To get this from Chemex we like to use a reusable stainless steel mesh filter. This goes a long way at maintaining the coffee’s essential oils.
Step 1: Measure Your Coffee and Your Water
Unlike a French Press, a Chemex doesn’t have a max fill line. You stop pouring when the kettle is out of water, so making sure the kettle is accurately filled is key.
If you’ve never brewed Chemex, we recommend a 1:14 ratio of coffee to water as a starting point, but experiment over time and see what you like the best.
- Our team, for instance, prefers a 1:12 or a 3:15 ratio for a more intense experience.
Also, be sure to add a little extra water for Step 4.
Some grinders have an indicator for Chemex these days. If yours doesn’t, we’d recommend Googling your grinder and “Chemex.”
But overall, you’re aiming for medium-coarse grind. If you’ve ground for French Press, you’ve probably gone a bit too coarse.
Step 2: Get Your Kettle Going
Note: for French Press, a gooseneck spout is ideal, but not necessary. For Chemex, however, a gooseneck spout is required to brew properly. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to get your hands on one before you can continue.
- We recommend the Fellow Stagg.
Have your kettle warming in the background as you get everything else ready.
Just like for making French Press, we recommend a final temperature anywhere between 190° and 200°.
- Anything above 200° will create bitter and unwanted flavors during the brewing process.
- If your kettle doesn’t have a temperature control option, do your best to stop your kettle just before the boil. Don’t be afraid to add some room temperature water to cool it slightly if you think your water is too hot.
Step 3: Place the Filter
Beyond its fun shape and design, Chemex is known for its extra thick filters.
Pick up the square and place it into the top of the Chemex. The paper doesn’t evenly distribute, so it’s important to make sure the thicker, three-ply side rests within the spout.
Step 4: Saturate the Filter
When your water is ready, take some of it and briefly saturate the filter.
This will help cleanse some of the “paper” flavor and also help the filter to stay properly affixed for the top of the Chemex.
Step 5: Add Your Coffee
Add your coffee and give your Chemex a series of gentle shakes to even out the grinds. You want them lying in an even bed.
Step 6: Bloom the Coffee
Add just enough water to saturate your grinds and let it bloom.
The grinds should be lively in appearance and begin to expand. The more lively the coffee in this stage, the fresher the coffee.
Step 7: The Pour
Technique is important for Chemex pouring, so be mindful of this until you master it.
Start towards the center — but not directly in the center — and begin pouring in circular motions.
Avoid the edges and maintain directing your water in that central, not-quite center, ring.
When to Pause
When the water is nearing the top, take a moment to let it percolate through the grounds.
When to Continue
When there’s about a half-to-a-quarter of water left percolating, begin your pouring method again.
Repeat this until you’re out of water.
Step 8: Let the Water Drip
When you’re out of water, wait until the Chemex is finished brewing. You’ll know this when the steady stream of water comes to a total halt, or very slow drip.
Step 9: Remove the Filter, Pour, and Enjoy
Here’s a very key step — be sure to remove the filter properly. If you don’t, you’re going to ruin your hard-work with grinds in your coffee.
Bring your Chemex as close as the trash as possible to avoid dropping. Pick the filter up by pressing the corners together, and discard.
Step 10: Keep it Warm on Your Stove Top
The Chemex is designed to sit on your stove top to keep it warm. Just be sure you’re not cranking up the heat too much. We recommend a low setting.
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