The Chemex has long been one of the most popular manual pour-overs. Its simple elegance and intricate brewing parameters attract both the novice and the expert coffee enthusiast. Here’s how to brew coffee with the Chemex.
Gather the Equipment Needed
To brew coffee with the Chemex, you’ll, of course, need a Chemex. Models are available in several different sizes. You’ll also need a:
- kitchen scale
- gooseneck kettle
- filter designed for the Chemex
Use the kitchen scale to weigh out the coffee and water you’ll be brewing with. In general, we recommend a ratio of 30 grams of coffee for every 500 grams of water. (500 grams of water will make about two 8-ounce cups of coffee.)
When working with the Chemex, though, add 300 grams of water onto the amount you’ll be using for brewing. For example, if you want to make two 8-ounce cups of coffee, you’ll need 30 grams of coffee and 800 grams of water (500 grams for brewing plus an extra 300 grams). The excess water is for wetting the filter.
Prepare Everything for Brewing
To get ready for brewing, heat up your water in a gooseneck kettle. A brewing temperature between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit is best. (A non-gooseneck kettle can work, but you won’t be able to precisely control your pouring pattern.)
While the water is heating up, place the filter in the Chemex and grind the coffee. Make sure the filter is across — and not in — the vent, or else it’ll interfere with the flow of water. The coffee should be ground medium-coarse, so it resembles the coarseness of sea salt.
Once the water is hot, filter in place and coffee ground, it’s time to prep the filter. This involves wetting all of it with the 300 grams of excess coffee. Simply pour the water in so that it dampens all of the filter. Use the scale to make sure you use 300 grams at this point, which will ensure you have the correct amount of water left for brewing.
After the filter is wet, dump out the water used to prep it. This water can be discarded.
Let the Grounds Bloom
Before actually brewing your coffee, it’s important to let the grounds bloom. This releases carbon dioxide from them.
Put the grounds in the filter and dampen them. You should use about twice as much water as you have grounds. For example, 30 grams of grounds calls for 60 grams of water during the blooming phase. Once the grounds are damp, let them sit for 30 to 40 seconds. You’ll see the gas release from them, after which you’re ready to brew.
Brew Your Coffee
In the first minute of brewing, pour half of the water that’s being used for brewing. Start in the center and slowly move to the edge of the grounds, working outwards in concentric circles. Your pouring should always be gentle and consistent.
After the first minute of brewing, slow your pour rate. Continue pouring in circles, but slow the flow of water so that the rest of the water is poured by the third minute of brewing. If you’re using a 2-cup Chemex, a rate of 50 grams per 20 seconds should be good. If you’re using a larger Chemex, you may need to pour slightly faster than this rate (and it might take more than 3 minutes to pour all the water.)
Once the water is poured, it will take a few minutes for the water to finish dripping down through the grounds. On a 2-cup and 10-cup Chemex, this stage takes about 4 minutes, resulting in a total brew time of 7 minutes.
Adjust Your Technique
One of the great aspects of the Chemex is the ability to adjust your brewing technique. Once you’re comfortable with this process, try changing different variables to find what works best for you. You’ll find people have come up with many slight variations on these recommendations. Enjoy finding your own nuanced Chemex brewing technique.
Brew with Fresh Coffee
If you’re going to go through the effort of brewing with a Chemex, you should be using coffee that’s worth the work. Make sure you’re using freshly roasted coffee every time you brew. Sign up with one of our subscriptions to get a regular supply of fresh coffee.