Chemex Brew Guide

Ah,the Chemex! This magnificent and beautiful coffeemaker, was invented by Peter Schlumbohm  in 1941, and which continues to be manufactured by the Chemex Corporation in Chicopee, Massachusetts. The Chemex Coffeemaker consists of an hourglass-shaped glass flask with a cylindrical neck (rather than a conical neck) and uses proprietary filters, made of chemically bonded paper (of thicker-gauge paper than the standard paper filters for a drip-method coffeemaker) which removes most of the coffee oils, brewing coffee with a taste that is different than coffee brewed in other coffee-making systems- it really gives you a super clean cup of coffee.

Ready to maximize the yum? Here is what you will need:

A Chemex, of course!
The iconic thick walled Chemex filter
Swan neck kettle filled with filtered water
Grinder (burr-style)
Freshly roasted coffee from your good friends at Flight Coffee Co.
A timer
Scale (the coffee world uses grams)

  • 10 ounce coffee yield: 20g coffee to 300g// Brew time goal is 3:00
  • 16 ounce coffee yield: 30g coffee to 450g water// Brew time goal is 4:00
  • 32 ounce coffee yield: 60g coffee to 900g water// Brew time goal is 5:00

Grind size:

Start with a kosher sea salt like grind, and if you use more coffee, just remember to coarsen the grind. So here is the basic rule: If the coffee brews too fast, you'll probably notice a watery, thin body and the flavors will taste kind of sour. If this happens, don't fret! All you need to do is dial in your grind and make it finer and this will slow down the brew process. And of course the corollary could happen and you get a painfully slow brew. What happens then? You will yield a brew that presents with an increase of body and you will get some awful bitterness in the after-taste. So a slight coarsening of the grind will help adjust the brew.

Once you dial your grind into the an ideal timing, your coffee will sing like the Harmony of the Spheres!

And remember always use fresh water and a burr grinder.

Okay, okay... you understand all this stuff, now what? Here are 8 easy steps to follow.

1) Boil the filtered water in your swank-looking swan neck kettle. The ideal water temperature for coffee brewing is between 195-205ºF- for lighter roasts we suggest a brew temp of 195-200ºF.

2) While you’re waiting for the water to boil, weigh out the coffee and grind it in a burr grinder.  For dosing use the guide above.

3) Get your filter ready. The Chemex filter causes confusion upon first use.  You want one layer side to three layers on the other side.  The 3 sided thicker side will overlap with the spout.

4) When the water boils and hits desired temperature, rinse the filter by pouring into the brewer until there is no dry paper. This will remove any papery taste, as well as heat up the Chemex. (We think brown filters muddle flavor notes) Make sure to pour enough water so that your brewer starts to feel warm.

And please for the love of all coffee Gods, discard that water!

5) Place your Chemex on the scale, add the ground coffee and tare. Shake the brewer a little to get a nice flat bed of coffee.

6) Take a deep breath. You've got this! Start the timer. Slowly pour your water over the level bed of coffee grounds. For this part you want to double the weight of water to the dose of coffee you used.  (A little, obvious math- if you use 20 grams of coffee you will want to pour 40 grams of water.)

Next behold one of the most beautiful sites in coffee- the "bloom". This puffing of the coffee or degassing helps set the stage for a most excellent brew. The fresher the coffee, the better the bloom.

7) After 30 seconds you can start pouring slowly to rewet the coffee bed. This is the Zen out part-  pour the rest of the water in a slow, continuous, circular stream in the center of the coffee bed until you have reached the water weight ratio you’re aiming for. (Once again see our brew guide up above).  Stay in the center.  If you poor on the outer edge of the coffee bed you will most likely over extract the grounds on the edges.  Pro-tip: Slow your pour down (even take pause) so your Chemex doesn't over flow because that would make you feel really sad.  :( The adage slow but steady wins the race apply here.

8) When the brewing coffee goes from a steady stream to drips, your coffee is done! Check your total time.  If the brew ends sooner, or takes a little longer, that’s ok! All coffees brew differently so a lot of times it will not be 100% consistent And now sip! If the coffee has a bitter aftertaste, try coarsening the grind just a touch. If the coffee brewed a little too quickly and tastes weak, fine the grind.

9) Remove the filter and compost it. Give your coffee a quick stir with the bamboo spoon you personally carved. OK not necessarily but you do want to give the coffee a swirl.

Relax and enjoy your coffee trip!

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