How to Use a Chemex Coffee Maker

default image by Sophie Kidd Carr | Updated on April 2nd, 2023

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 is used as a handhold and protects the user from the heat of freshly brewed coffee.

Chemex

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

Gather Your Equipment

Make sure 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.

Choose Your Coffee Beans

When making the perfect cup of coffee, one of the most important steps is choosing the right beans. The type of coffee beans you choose will greatly impact your coffee’s flavor and aroma.

If you’re using a Chemex coffee maker, you’ll want to select a medium to light roast. This roast will give you a cleaner cup of coffee that won’t be too strong. You can also experiment with different blends to find your favorite flavor profile.

Try experimenting with single-origin coffees to understand what notes and aromas you prefer. When you find the perfect beans for your Chemex, you’ll be able to enjoy a cup of coffee that’s truly unique.

Best Brewing Practices

The best brewing practices are fairly straightforward across the board. We always want to measure the exact amount of 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

The first step of the process is to prepare your Chemex brewer. If 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 a whole bean, weigh 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?

Regarding 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

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. Wet the entire filter using 20ml of the heated water (just a splash!). This helps remove any paper taste and prepares the filter to brew the coffee without taking water away from the brewing process.
  4. Empty the filtered water. Let the hot water sit in the brewer for a moment before emptying the filtered 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 to control the flavors you extract better. If you don’t have a timer, try 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 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 60 ml 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 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 into 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

The final steps of the brewing 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 it 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?

Clean & Maintain Your Chemex Coffee Maker

Once you have finished enjoying your delicious cup of Chemex coffee, it is important to clean and maintain your Chemex coffee maker.

Cleaning your Chemex is relatively simple. First, remove and discard the filter and grounds from the Chemex. Then, rinse the Chemex with warm water to remove any excess grounds.

Finally, wipe down the Chemex with a cloth to remove any leftover grounds. To maintain your Chemex, avoid using abrasive materials or liquids such as bleach, as these may damage the coffee maker.

Also, store your Chemex in a dry, cool place like a cupboard or pantry. With proper cleaning and maintenance, you can enjoy delicious coffee made with your Chemex coffee maker for years to come.

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 dense.

Alternative Brewing Methods

Alternative brewing methods can be used to make coffee with a Chemex coffee maker. Pour over and French press methods can both be used with the Chemex. The pour over method requires the user to pour hot water over the grounds in a circular motion until all the grounds are saturated.

This can be done using a Chemex-specific filter or a third-party filter. The French press method involves adding the grounds and hot water to the Chemex carafe and pressing the plunger down over the grounds. Both methods can produce a high-quality cup of coffee with the Chemex.

FAQs

What makes the Chemex Coffee Maker good?

Chemex is an all-around great brew method that is both an industry standard and a home brewer favorite. This brewing method gives you a clear and concise brew highlighting your coffee’s best qualities. 

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 too strong/bitter, add a splash of hot water. As previously said, I prefer moderate brewed coffee, 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 is 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 kitchen sink.)

How do you use a Chemex without a filter?

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

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using these links. Remember to support us by purchasing through the Amazon/Walmart/Impact Radius links provided. Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Disclosure: No compensation or free products were received in exchange for writing this review.

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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.