What You'll Need
Brewing with a Chemex at home can be as cheap as $85.00 to get started (this excludes a grinder) or as expensive as $385.00 (includes a high-quality grinder and electric kettle with temperature readings).
Even if you opt for the lower end of the scale to get started where you buy pre-ground coffee (not ideal you can read why here), a Chemex and a gooseneck kettle will cose you roughly $85.00. Even with this starter set, you will get more exceptional cups of coffee than when relying on an automatic drip machine.
- Grinder or preground coffee (not ideal)
- Chemex brewer
- Chemex filter paper
- Gooseneck kettle
Medium coarse. You'll need to grind slightly coarser for a Chemex than you would for a V60 due to its slow brew time (be careful not to grind too coarse).
1 gram of coffee for every 14 grams of water for dark roasts and upward of 1 gram of coffee for every 17 grams of water for light roasts.
- Light Roasts: 203 - 212 degrees or right off boil
- Medium Roasts: 194 - 203 degrees
- Dark Roasts: 185 - 195 degrees
Water represents 99% of the liquid in your cup so brewing with a good spring water makes all the difference.
Always brew freshly roasted whole-bean coffee and grind on demand. The optimal timeframe to brew and enjoy your coffee is 7 – 30 days past the roast date.
Always time and measure your brews to understand better the outcome and one you can repeat our iterate on.
Step 1: Measure and Grind Coffee
Coffee amount: 45 grams
Brew ratio: 1:15 (1 gram of coffee for every 15 grams of water)
Your grind size and quality are crucial factors that will impact the length of your brew and the taste. For Chemex brewing, medium-coarse grind size is ideal for helping hit the target brew length of 4:00 – 5:00 minutes.
Chemex filter paper is thicker than your standard pour-over papers sp you will want to grind coarser than you do for pour-overs. The filter also comes to a point, and if not careful, it is easy to over-extracted due to the slow brew times.
Adjust your grind size finer if your brew length is too short and the cup comes out too sour. You will adjust your grinder coarser if your brew length is too long and the cup is too strong and bitter.
Step 2: Rinse Your Filter
Place your Chemex filter paper in the brewer ensuring the three-layer side is toward the spout and rinse the paper filter with hot water; otherwise, it will give off a papery taste. The added benefit of using hot water here is that it warms up Chemex carafe.
When carefully rinsing your filter, check that the paper is not blocking the spout on the Chemex. If the spout is blocked, hot air from the brew won't be able to esacape causing the coffee to drip through even slower.
Step 3: Add Coffee and Heat Up Your Water
Water Amount: 700 grams (~24.0 ounces)
First, add your coffee into the filter, place it on the scale, and tare it out. If your scale also has a timer, you will start the timer in step 4.
Next, heat 700 grams of high-quality spring water to the ideal brewing temperature for the roast type (hotter for light roasts, cooler for darker roasts). With Chemex brewing, it is most ideal to brew slightly hotter to help with extraction.
Step 4: Bloom
Bloom size: 120 grams (3- 4x coffee weight)
Bloom length: 1:00 minute
Your first pour is what is referred to as the “bloom.” The bloom allows your coffee to degas and helps with a more even extraction. If the coffee is fresh, you will notice the bed of grounds rises and bubbles during this step.
For your bloom, we recommend 3 – 4x the weight of the coffee
or 45 – 60 grams of water as your first pour. You want to ensure you saturate all the grounds in the bed of coffee, and you can
even spin the brewer after the pour to help with the saturation.
There are recipes recommending the bloom stage to last anywhere between 30 seconds and 2 minutes, and this is a great place to test what works best for the coffee you are brewing.
Step 5: Remaining Pour
Pour frequency: After the bloom is complete, pour the remaining water at a slow and even pace for about 2 minutes to 2 minutes and 45 seconds. If the coffee is draining too slowly, it is okay to swirl the bed of coffee to help improve the flow rate.
End weight: 700 grams (~24.0 ounces)
End time: 4:00 - 5:00
There are a few ways of approaching your pour frequency, from one slow and long pour to pulsing your pour every 20 seconds. This is not a preference recommendation, as each pour type impacts your brew differently. We prefer the long and slow pour, where the pour ends around 3:00 - 3:30 and another 1:00 - 1:30 for the coffee to fully drain ending your brew time at around 4:00 - 5:00 minutes. Again, it is okay during this process to give to Chemex a slight swirl to help improve the flow rate.
Step 6: Serve and Enjoy!
The next part is quite simple – if you nail all the brewing parameters, you will be sipping on a delicious cup of coffee. If anything seems off in the cup, like it being too sour or bitter, reassess your grind size and brew length.
Make sure to give the Chemex a good stir before pouring to ensure a consistent taste throughout, as the initial extraction of coffee during the brewing process tends to settle at the bottom and be the strongest. Failing to do so may result in a noticeable difference in taste between the top and bottom of the brew.
What is a Chemex?
The Chemex is an iconic hourglass-shaped coffee brewer which has achieved a cult following since its design in 1941 due to it being featured in films, on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and just being an all-around great device to brew with.
The Chemex uses a “double-bonded” creped paper filter that is thicker than any other coffee filter on the market, which means the water drips more slowly through it. The filter also comes to a point similar to a cone-shaped pour-over device, and if not careful, it is easy to get over-extracted brews using the Chemex, which is why grinding coarser here is ideal.
Although Chemex brewing is more hands-on and time-consuming than other methods, it can result in some of the most delicious cups of coffee you've ever had.
Why Chemex is better than a Drip Coffee Machine
The benefit of brewing a coffee in a Chemex is the direct influence you as the barista have on brew length (time), temperature, and recipe. Many of these inputs can't be influenced with automatic drip machines which can drastically reduce the quality of your brew.
Every coffee is unique, from the roast type (light, medium, dark), the varietal (Gesha, SL-28, Pink Bourbon), and the processing method (washed, natural, honey). All these factors drastically influence how coffee should be brewed and catering your inputs (time, temperature, and recipe) to the coffee type will give the exceptional results you are looking for. Furthermore, you as the consumer of the beverage may want the final brew to taste a certain way, maybe you like your coffee stronger, or want a coffee with high clarity and a low coffee-to-water ratio, all these options you have the influence over when brewing with a pour-over.
What brew ratios should you use for a Chemex?
Golden Cup Standard:
The Golden Cup Standard is an excellent baseline for any brewing method, including pour-overs. The standard recommends a coffee-to-water ratio of 1:17 to 1:18, meaning you would use 17 grams of water for every 1 gram of coffee grounds.
Some may find this ratio to be a bit weak, resulting in a slightly watery cup of coffee. The Golden Cup Standard is particularly well-suited to those seeking clarity in their coffee, light roast enthusiasts, or those who prefer single-origin coffee.
Starting with the Golden Cup Standard is an excellent idea, even though it is a bit mild. You can then gradually increase the coffee-to-water ratio to achieve a stronger brew.
Our Recommendation for Brew Ratios:
We suggest three different coffee-to-water ratios for pour-over brewing, depending on whether you prefer a mild, average, or robust cup of coffee.
Mild (high clarity): 1:17 or the SCA Golden Cup standard
Robust (high body): 1:13
You can use these ratios as a starting point and then adjust the ratio up or down to achieve the desired level of clarity or body. Our coffee calculator provides exact measurements, and please note that all ratios are based on 1 gram of coffee to "x" grams of water.
What temperture should you use for a Chemex?
The recommended temperature range for brewing hot coffee, regardless of the method, is between 197-205 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a kettle with a thermometer is the best way to achieve this temperature range, but alternatively, you can boil water and let it sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute to cool to the optimal temperature.
The temperature of the water used for brewing can greatly affect the taste of the coffee. If the water is too hot, it can result in a bitter or burnt taste, while water that is too cool can result in a flat and weak cup of coffee.
Ideal brewing temperature for light-roasted coffee:
The ideal brewing temperature for Light Roast Coffee is right off boil or between 203 – 212 degrees Fahrenheit. The higher temperatures help prevent sourness, and high acidity is lighter roasted coffees.
Ideal brewing temperature for medium-roasted coffee:
The ideal brewing temperature for Medium Roast Coffee is about 30 seconds off boil or between 194 - 203 degrees Fahrenheit. The moderate brewing temperature helps keep the medium-roasted coffee balanced and rich.
Ideal brewing temperature for dark-roasted coffee:
The ideal brewing temperature for Dark Roast Coffee is about 1 minute off boil or between 185 – 195 degrees Fahrenheit. The lower temperature helps to rid bitterness and highlight the sweetness in the dark roasted coffee.
How long should your Chemex brew for?
Most Chemex recipes fall within the 4:00 – 5:00 minute range. You will see 4:00 minutes mentioned often as the target time but don’t be afraid to test a Chemex brews that are faster or slower than that target time. Chemex filter paper is thicker than other pour-over devices and its cone-like shape also causes the coffee to brew much slower.
It is recommended that you grind slightly coarser than you would for a standard pour-over coffee but be careful not to grind too coarse as you will be left with a sour-tasting coffee.