A coffee Chemex on a white kitchen countertop.

How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex

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Everything You Need to Know About a Chemex Pour Over

The Chemex is one of the most classic and efficient ways to make your coffee. Invented in the 1940s by Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, this hourglass-shaped brewer comes with special filters that allow for a perfectly steeped pot. Not only is the Chemex an excellent way to brew, it also looks really great on a countertop. 

Don't worry, you don't have to be a coffee snob to get down with a Chemex. While it may look intimidating at first, it's actually quite practical and easy to use. Coffee from a Chemex is similar to drip coffee but requires a little more strategy.

What You Need:

  • Chemex 6-cup brewer
  • Chemex filters
  • Kettle
  • 20 ounces of water
  • 8 tablespoons of coffee

A Chemex and coffee storage container on a countertop next to a bag of medium roast.

    Chemex Directions: 

    1. Grind your coffee coarse.  Your grind for a Chemex is typically the coarsest setting on a grinder. It should resemble rock salt in particle size. 
    2. Heat your water.  Heat 20 ounces of water to 205 F using a kettle. Tip: If you don't have a fancy kettle or even a thermometer, you may boil water on your stovetop, then let it sit around 1.5 minutes—this should bring you to around 200 to 205 F. 
    3. Wet your filter.  Wetting your coffee filter with warm water before use helps take out any wood or paper taste.  
    4. Add coffee.  Add 2.5 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water used. So for 20 ounces of water, use between 6-8 tablespoons. The more coffee you use, the stronger it will be. 
    5. Wet coffee.  Add water until coffee is fully submerged and wait for 30 seconds. This will allow the coffee to bloom, giving you the best flavor.  
    6. Brew coffee.  After you bloom your coffee for 30 seconds, slowly add water in a slow, circular motion from the outside ring to the inside. The brew should take a total of about 4 minutes. Tip: If it takes longer than 4 minutes, you may need to adjust your grind to be more coarse. If it takes a much shorter time, your grind may need to be finer. 
    7. Remove filter.  After your coffee has completely brewed, dispose of the coffee and filter, or better yet, reuse the grounds. 
    8. Enjoy!  Pour by holding the wooden collar and drink up.  
    Brewing coffee using a chemex with the pour over method.

    [Photo Credit: Tyler Nix via Unsplash]

    How to be a Pour Over Pro

    Water temperature for a Chemex pour over: 205 F  

    Since some traditional coffee makers can only reach 160 F, manual methods of brewing immediately have the edge over an auto-drip pot. We use this 6 Cup Chemex for the most precise pour. 

    Can I use preground coffee in my Chemex? 

    If you buy preground coffee, the water will take far too long to pass through the filter and will over extract and become bitter. It is possible to brew a cup, but it will not produce coffee that properly represents the taste of the Chemex. 

    Brewing ratios for a Chemex: Strong 

    • Water-to-coffee ratio for a Chemex, by weight: 12:1 
    • Water-to-coffee ratio for a Chemex, by volume: 6 oz.: 2.5 Tbsp. 

    One of the wonderful things about the Chemex is your ability to control the brew—this comes through best during the set-up process. It's possible that the Chemex can make the strongest coffee of any non-pressurized coffee maker. So make sure to experiment with the ratio that best suits your taste.  

    The Importance of Blooming

    This is the part of the brewing process where unwanted gasses from the coffee are released as the water hits the grinds, also called "blooming." This is done by pouring just enough water to saturate the grinds in your filter and waiting ~30 seconds. You'll notice your coffee "blooming"—forming bubbles and expanding. This means that your coffee is fresh.   

    Why use a Chemex?  

    • A fresh cup every time. 
    • Non-porous glass does not impart flavors onto the coffee. 
    • Chemex filters provide a clean, strong cup of coffee every time. 
    • Ability to customize your brew to the strength that you like. 
    • Can be used as a coffee or water reservoir. 

    [Featured Image Credit: Jordan Sanchez via Unsplash]

    RELATED: Pour Over vs. Drip Coffee