BREWING A CHEMEX

The Chemex coffee brewer is simple, elegant, and easy to use. It is a fantastic coffee brewer that many coffee pros reach for morning after morning. It is also iconic for its design (it's on permanent display at MOMA in New York).  It doesn’t just look good though, it can produce an amazing cup of coffee.  

Our friends at Rodale’s asked for an overview on how to brew a Chemex.  Before we go into brewing details, let’s cover some coffee extraction (brewing) theory.  Really quick - there are five factors that affect coffee brewing (keep an eye on all five of these and your coffee is bound to taste great). These factors apply to all brew methods, but I will focus our efforts on the Chemex brew method here.

Coffee/Water Ratio | I recommend a 1:16 ratio for Chemex. That means 1 gram of coffee per 16 grams of water (for example, if you are using 25g of coffee, use 400g of water). 1:15 will be a bit stronger, 1:17 will be a bit weaker.

Grind Size | I recommend a medium coarse grind for Chemex (for size reference, think Sugar in the Raw).  Even particle size is one of the keys to a delicious brew, you’ll need a burr grinder to produce even particle size. Blade grinders will get you close, but they produce a wide variety of particle sizes and result in uneven extraction.

Time | For Chemex, I like 3.5 minutes. Taking too long - grind coarser. Going too fast… grind finer.

Temperature | You will want your water temperature at time of pour to be between 195-205°F. For a reference, this is typically 30 seconds off the boil.

Agitation | Agitation refers to stirring or pouring technique. With Chemex, you want to pour the water slowly and evenly over all of the coffee, not too far to one side or the other and not too fast.

Now that we have a general understanding of the five factors for a good Chemex brew, let’s start brewing! I brew on a scale, it's a convenient way to measure water as you add it. Also, it's the best way to nail the coffee water ratio.

Chemex Brewing Instructions

  • Boil 700 grams of fresh clean water
  • Weigh out 30 grams of coffee and grind medium coarse
  • Place filter in Chemex, place Chemex on scale, zero scale, rinse filter with 150 grams of hot water, and discard rinse water
  • Place Chemex back on scale, add coffee, and zero/tare the scale
  • Start timer, and carefully add water wetting all coffee evenly until scale reads 60 grams
  • Pause and let the coffee bloom (release gasses) for 45 seconds
  • Continue adding water in a concentric circular motion until scale reads 300 grams, then pour into the center until 480 grams
  • Adjust your pouring speed to manage the water level in the cone (you only want to fill the cone ¾ of the way)
  • Let the coffee drain – brewing should finish around 3.5 minutes (adjust grind if timing is off)
  • Remove filter, serve, and enjoy!

Try it out and let us know how it turned out!

Steve Hoffman
Director of Coffee & Production

All photo's taken by | Mike from Wild Measure

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