How to Use a Chemex Coffee Maker: Tried & True Way to Brew Pour Over Coffee

The Chemex Coffee Maker is a popular way to brew coffee for home enthusiasts, coffee industry professionals and everyone in between. Invented in 1941, this coffee brewing method has been around for almost one hundred years and is still celebrated today.

The Chemex Coffee Maker is made with tempered glass and features a wooden cuff and leather thong to hold the cuff on. The cuff itself is use as a hand hold and protects the user from the heat of freshly brewed coffee.

As a manual brew method, the Chemex requires careful preparation and specific tools to properly brew a delicious cup of coffee. If you are interested in purchasing a Chemex Coffee Maker or are already a proud owner of a Chemex Coffee Maker, we have all of the tips and tricks you need to start brewing or perfect your brew.

Gather Your Equipment

Make sure that you have everything you need to brew delicious coffee with your Chemex Coffee Maker. You will need the following:

Check out the best Chemex accessories here.

Best Brewing Practices

The best brewing practices are fairly straightforward across the board. We always want to measure out exact amount for coffee and water. The temperature should be precise, as should the time for which you are brewing.

With all of your tools gathered, it’s time to start the brewing process!

Step One: Preparing the Coffee and Water

Chemex coffee measure coffee

The first step of the process is to prepare your Chemex brewer. I f you have a specific recipe that you are following, measure out the set amount of water and coffee. Otherwise, feel free to follow along with our recipe.

  1. Measure the water. Portion out 500ml or roughly 16.5 fluid ounces of filtered water.
  2. Heat the water. Heat the measured water to 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. If you cannot take the temperature of the water, simply set it to boil.
  3. Measure the coffee. If you are using pre-ground coffee, make sure it is ground for Chemex, and measure out 30 grams or about 6-7 tablespoons of coffee. If the coffee is whole bean, weigh out the same amount and grind it for a medium coarse grind (compare this to kosher salt).

What is the ratio of coffee to water for Chemex?

When it comes to coffee recipes, start with a 1:16 ratio of coffee to water. You can adjust the ratio to taste after you get the hang of brewing with the chemex.

Step Two: The Filter

Chemex coffee filter

It may seem like a lot to have an entire step in the process dedicated to the Chemex filter. However, the Chemex filter is very different from most coffee filters. The Chemex filter comes in the shape of a cone or a square folded to create four layers.

  1. Separate the layer. Take your Chemex filter and hold it with the closed side at the bottom. At the top, separate three layers to one side and one layer to the other. Open up the filter so that it is shaped like a cone.
  2. Place the filter. Now that the filter is properly assembled, place the filter into the chemex brewer with the three layered side facing the pouring spout. It is necessary to have the three folds on this side of the brewer as it provides structure during the brewing process.
  3. Wet the filter. Using 20ml of the heated water (just a splash!), wet the entire filter. This helps remove any paper taste and also prepares the filter to brew the coffee without taking water away from the brewing process.
  4. Empty the filter water. Let the hot water sit in the brewer for a moment before emptying the filter water from the Chemex brewer. This allows the brewer to preheat and prepares us for the next step, brewing!

Step Three: Start Your Brew

bloom coffee

Ideally, you should be timing your brewing process so that you have a better control of the flavors that you are extracting. If you don’t have a timer try your best to aim for about four minutes for the brew time.

  1. Add the coffee. Add the portioned out coffee, 30 grams, to your filter. Give the Chemex a gentle shake so that the coffee grounds are flat and level in the brewing cone.
  2. Bloom the coffee. The first pour when brewing is called the bloom. Add about two ounces or 60ml of hot water to the grounds. Be sure to cover all of the grounds so nothing is left dry. Let this sit for about 30 seconds.
  3. Pour hot water in an outward spiral. After 30 seconds, start from the center of the the coffee grounds and begin pouring in an outward spiral. Once you reach the outer edge of the grounds, take a 10-15 second break.
  4. Pour the hot water in an inward spiral. After pausing for about 10-15 seconds, start to pour the hot water in an inward spiral. Once you reach the center of the grounds, take another 10-15 second break before returning to #3.
  5. Allow the coffee to drip through. After repeating #3 and #4 until you have used all 500ml or 16.5 fluid ounces of hot water, allow the water to drip through the coffee and the filter. This should take no more than 45 seconds for all of the coffee to have dripped through into the bottom of the Chemex coffee brewer.

Step Five: The Final Steps

swirl Chemex coffee

The final steps of the brew process are simple and easy! 

  1. Dispose of the coffee grounds and filter.  Once your coffee has fully dripped through, bundle up the corners of the coffee filter and remove from the brewer. You can simply toss these in the trash or use them for compost in your garden!
  2. Swirl your brewer. Before serving, hold your Chemex by the cuff or the handle and give your brewer a good swirl. This will bring all of your flavors in the brew together before you serve and enjoy the coffee!

Want to automate your Chemex pour over with the Chemex Ottomatic coffee maker?

FAQs

What makes the Chemex Coffee Maker good?

Chemex is an all around great brew method that is both an industry standard and home brewer favorite. This brew method gives you a clear and concise brew that highlights the best qualities that your coffee has to offer. 

Should I buy the Chemex Coffee Maker?

We recommend this brew method for folks that enjoy tasting different coffees from around the world. Single Origins are well suited for the Chemex coffee maker because the brew method itself brings out the more delicate and subtle notes in the coffee.

How big is the Chemex Coffee Maker?

The Chemex coffee maker is available in the following sizes: three cup, six cups, eight cups and ten cups.

Is Chemex a good brand?

Yes! Chemex is tried and true. This American designed and made brand is reliable and trustworthy.

Is Chemex the best way to brew coffee?

Chemex coffee is commonly regarded as the superior alternative for those who like a smoother cup with less bitterness and don’t mind a lack of body. Chemex coffee gives you the opposite impression that a french press does. The final brew is light and transparent, rather than thick and viscous.

What type of coffee is best for Chemex?

The Chemex is ideal for light, medium, and dark roasts. A medium coarse grind should be used. This ensures the best extraction and flow rate when brewing the coffee.

How do I know my Chemex size?

Chemex comes in 1, 3, 6, 8 and 10 Cup Sizes. Chemex Measures a ‘cup’ by 5 US Fluid Ounces. So, an 8 Cup Chemex can produce a maximum of 40 oz coffee. The button will mark 20 oz of coffee.

How do you make Chemex less bitter?

Taste it, and if it’s a little too strong/bitter, add a splash of hot water. As previously said, I prefer my brewed coffee moderate, and this formula (essentially scaled down from a 700 gram water/40 gram coffee recipe) works for me.

How long does a Chemex take?

The brewing time should have been between 3.5 and 4.5 minutes. If the brew was too quick, try a finer grind or a slower pour velocity next time. Consider using a coarser grind or a faster pour rate if the brew was too slow.

How do you get stains out of Chemex?

Pour equal parts distilled white vinegar and warm water into the carafe and fill to the brim. (If the exterior of your Chemex requires a thorough cleaning, immerse it in the liquid using a washtub, bucket, or your kitchen sink.)

How do you use a Chemex without a filter?

If you ran out of Chemex coffee filter, you can opt in for a strainer over the cup, or use a reusable metal coffee filter. If no other options are available, you can try with a paper towel, although, not really recommended.

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Sophie Kidd Carr

Sophie Kidd Carr is a freelance writer and educator with over five years of experience in the coffee industry. Sophie also enjoys traveling to different countries and discovering new adventures.