One of the most easily recognized names in the homebrewing world is going to have Chemex on the top 5 list. This innovative method for brewing coffee does take some practice since it does take patience to follow all the steps while brewing coffee. Now you might just mistake this iconic-looking cone dripper for a Japanese invention but ironically it was invented by a chemist who modeled this design after the Erlenmeyer flask.
Because this glass flask is built in one piece, the upper brewing vessel has a large single hole that empties into the lower vessel. It’s not a very complicated design, but for most novice coffee makers, you might feel intimidated by this technical looking dripper for the same reason. The real secret to making great coffee using Chemex is just a matter of choosing the right cone filter.
Perhaps this is why it’s been embraced by so many upscale coffee houses because it looks so technical, and that should stand in your way of using the Chemex drip method to get great coffee results very easily. The first step is to learn to use a gooseneck water kettle and grind your beans fresh rather than buy pre-ground coffee. This way you can enjoy awesome flavor that brings out the amount of brightness that makes fresh-brewed coffee so satisfying.
After this, it’s virtually impossible to mess up making coffee if you follow the brewing steps correctly each time. Because the glass chamber is a bit harder to clean than other types of coffee drippers, here are some tips:
Brewing Coffee With The Chemex Dripper
As mentioned before, Chemex drippers are using a cone-shaped paper filter. Since there are many different sizes that Chemex offers, you can brew a single cup up to 13 cups for large groups! You’ll need to purchase the right-sized filter based on the size of your Chemex carafe. Now, what you do need to know is that Chemex sells its own version of paper filters that are going to be a bit pricier than the cheaper ones you can find online or at the store.
Regardless of that, be sure to use an unbleached paper filter that fits your budget. The real charm comes from prepping your filter before you begin to brew any coffee. This starts with adding your filter into the upper chamber and priming the filter with hot water that’s 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a gooseneck kettle gives you more advantage to control where the water is being poured.
Now you can start to wet out this filter starting at the lower edges and working your way toward the top. Once you have this completed, then you remove the filter and pour out the water. Be sure to grab the Chemex carafe by the center wrap since the glass will be hot from the water that’s been poured. Return the paper filter inside the top vessel and add your coffee grounds at the bottom of the filter.
This is where you want to have a lot of control when beginning the blooming process. The grind of your coffee grounds is also a big issue so be sure to keep the grind set to have it appear like medium to medium-fine table salt. Since you are going to be brewing in a specific size of Chemex, you need to use a digital scale to keep track of your water. The brewing ratio is also critical, so always stick with a 16:1 ratio.
Once you turn on your digital scale, tare off the weight of your carafe so you only see the amount of water going in. This is when you start the brewing process. Slowly, you’ll start pouring into the center of your coffee grounds and circulate this to the outer edge just enough to get the grounds saturated. Stop pouring when you’ve reached the first 100 grams. This allows your coffee to bloom and release carbon dioxide that is seen from little bubbles.
It only takes less than 30 seconds for this to stop bubbling and you continue to the next step. Don’t forget that it will take three separate pours to complete your brewing. This is due to the size of the upper brewing vessel, so each timed pour is just a matter of waiting until the water drains enough to see the coffee grounds settling into a cake. Then you fill it up again and wait until you can add more water.
Once you’ve reached the total amount of total water that’s poured, you can now remove your paper filter with the spent coffee grounds. Give your carafe a swirl to get the coffee mixed completely and then you’re ready to serve right from the carafe. There’s a built-in pour spout that makes pouring freshly brewed coffee into your waiting coffee mugs. Hopefully, you don’t have to make more depending on the size of your Chemex carafe.
How to Brew with the Chemex
- The Chemex
- Scale (optional)
- 1/4 Cup Medium Fine Ground Coffee or 31 Grams
- 16.9 oz Water or 500 Grams
- Heat water over high heat till boiling begins (205°F)
- Add filter to device and completely soak with 1/4 cup (or 60 grams) of water. Pour out rinse water from device. Add coffee to filter, gently shake device to level the coffee bed.
- Bloom: slowly pour 1/4 cup (or 60 grams) of water in a circular motion as you soak all the grounds. Wait for 25 seconds to allow bloom to complete.
- With a controlled, gentle, continuous pour;Pour 1/2 cup of water (or 120 grams) in a circular motion focusing on the center of the coffee bed; then pour 1/4 cup (or 60 grams) of water in two circles towards the end of the coffee bed; then repeat, pouring 1/2 cup of water (or 120 grams) in a circular pattern in the center, then 1/4 cup (or 60 grams) of water in two circles towards the end of the coffee bed, then move back to the center of the coffee bed and pour the remaining water (80 grams) in a circular pattern. Then allow the water to drain. This step should take about 3 minutes, including 30 seconds for the water to drain.
Cleaning the Chemex
Once you’ve emptied your Chemex and aren’t going to brew any more coffee for the day, be sure to clean your carafe right away so you don’t have coffee stains that are harder to cleanout. A good rinse of hot water will be perfect to clean out any residue before you do any soap washing later.
Thanks to your Chemex being made from glass, it’s also dishwasher safe. It’s not really recommended since you should hand wash this carafe using unscented soap and a soft sponge. The outside neck cover has a strap that can be removed although only the inside is what you need to clean, so that’s not much concern if you get it slightly wet. Just dry it off with a dry towel afterward.
You don’t want to use scented dish soap since this might leave a slightly soapy flavor if you didn’t clean the carafe chamber correctly. Stronger brands like Dawn or even Palmolive aren’t going to taste very nice in your next cup of coffee, so just avoid using them