How Does Chemex Work? A Brewing Guide

Brewing with a Chemex has many benefits! Find out how to make intense, full-bodied coffee using a Chemex.

Chemex is a brewer that fascinates many coffee lovers due to its unique design and ability to make full-bodied, intense and rich cups using an infusion method of brewing. Do you wonder how does a Chemex work? If so, you have come to the right place!

Recently Chemex has seen a renewed popularity, with Chemex being used in many coffee shops. Like a French Press, Chemex utilizes an infusion method of brewing.

Chemex filters are thicker than those used by other pour over methods which results in a bolder more intense flavored cup of coffee.

Read on to learn all about how a Chemex works, its benefits and why you should consider adding one to your coffee brewing repertoire.

What Is Chemex?

A German inventor, Peter Schlumbohm invented the Chemex in Chicopee, Massachusetts. Schlumbohm designed the Chemex in 1941 only using materials that were not necessary in supporting World War II.

The Chemex is well known for being an incredibly designed product, so much so it is the only coffee brewer that is featured in the world renown Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, New York.

The Chemex coffeemaker is designed with a glass hourglass body with a funnel shaped neck. Chemex uses paper filters that are thicker than those of regular drip coffee brewers or even other pour-over coffee makers.

Chemex filters allow for precise infusion by controlling the rate of filtration, ensuring that the coffee is brewed at the perfect pace. The result is a cup of coffee that is cleaner and more intense than you will find with a drip coffee maker.

Chemex’s special filters ensure you find no sediment leftovers in your coffee and removes the majority of the coffee oils often present in coffee made from drip coffee makers.

How Does Chemex Work?

The Chemex is made of glass and has a funnel like neck.
Chemex uses paper filters that are thicker than those of regular drip coffee brewers or even other pour-over coffee makers. These special filters ensure you find no sediment leftovers in your coffee.

You have probably wondered how does Chemex work when brewing? Fortunately, using a Chemex is incredibly easy. Any type of coffee brewer, from novice to expert, can successfully brew a cup of coffee with the Chemex.

The way a Chemex works is very simple. It utilizes gravity by pulling hot water through the coffee beans and filter. This results in a cup that has the majority of oils and fats from the coffee extracted, creating a clean, rich cup of coffee.

Chemex can easily be used without the use of extra accessories like a timer or a scale.

What Makes Chemex Stand Out?

Chemex brews a clean, intense cup of coffee.
Chemex brews a clean, intense cup of coffee.

Chemex brewing gives coffee lovers a cup of coffee with a taste second to no other.

It is important to note that coffee brewed in the Chemex will be intense, bold and robust. It is the perfect companion to those who like strong, straight forward coffee.

If you aren’t a fan of strong coffee, don’t worry! There are a lot of suitable alternatives to the Chemex that will brew a milder cup of coffee for you including a Keurig or these grind and brew coffee makers.

If you are searching for a brewer that gives you a pure and clean coffee taste, consider trying out the Chemex. We don’t think you will be disappointed!

The Ideal Size of Chemex to Buy

The classic Chemex pour-over is available in four sizes: a 3-cup, a 6-cup, an 8-cup, and a 10-cup model. For the 6, 8, and 10-cup models, the Chemex belly size is what differentiates them. The belly is the bottom part of the brewer.

The 3-cup is a smaller model with a cone-shaped top part with a varying angle.

The 6-cup model is handy if you want to brew single servings (10-15 ounces).

Otherwise, most prefer the 8-cup model being they are large enough to brew a higher volume of coffee for two or more people. 

Chemex Coffee Filters

The Chemex coffee filters contribute much towards a Chemex brewer’s uniqueness. They are designed much thicker than regular coffee filters enabling them to filter out oils and the bitter taste from coffee grounds.

The filters are the key factor in creating the super clear coffee that Chemex is notorious for.Using Chemex coffee filters might seem complicated at first, but most catch on very quickly after completing one or two brewing cycles.

Chemex Coffee Brewing Guide

Chemex recommends you use one heaped tablespoon of regular or automatic grind coffee for each 5 oz cup.
When brewing with a Chemex it is recommended to use coffee beans that have been ground to a medium-coarse consistency.

Coffee grind size matters and when it comes to using a Chemex, what’s important is to ensure the coffee is not too coarse so that it brews too fast, resulting in a weak taste. Similarly, if the coffee is too fine, it may clog. 

When brewing with the Chemex we recommend you grind the coffee beans to a medium-coarse consistency. You will find this is a bit coarser than what is used with most other pour overs, however, the Chemex paper filters are designed to ensure the water can flow through the coffee grounds while brewing.

Don’t have a coffee grinder handy? Don’t worry, Cozy has you covered! Check out our guide on how to grind coffee beans without a coffee grinder.

For every 5 ounce cup you will want to put one rounded tablespoon of ground coffee into the filter. If you desire stronger coffee you can put more coffee in based on your preference.

Is it necessary to use a digital scale to get the amounts right? No, it’s not. However, using a coffee scale can help with consistency of flavor for each brew. 

Once you’re sure the amount of coffee and water is correct, it’s now time to perfect the grind. To brew some coffee with Chemex, you’ll need the following:

  • Medium-coarse ground coffee
  • Chemex
  • Chemex coffee filter
  • Filtered water
  • Coffee Scale (optional)

Now, to use the Chemex coffee brewer, follow the steps below: 

Step 1: Heat the Water

You will need hot water to brew with as well as a little extra water to rinse the filter.

Step 2: Grind the Coffee Beans

Set the grinder to medium-coarse, pour in the grounds and begin grinding.

Step 3: Insert the Filter

Unfold the filter and leave the three-fold side facing the spout to ensure the filter doesn’t collapse inside the spout once wet.

The Chemex filter is an important part of the brewing process.
The Chemex filter is an important part of the brewing process.

Step 4: Rinse the Filter

To get rid of the papery taste and help the filter seal onto the glass, rinse it with hot water. As an added bonus, doing this will also preheat the Chemex.

Do away with the rinse water once through with this process. If you prefer to measure your coffee with a scale, this is an ideal time to place the Chemex on it.

Step 5: Bloom Coffee

Place the coffee grinds in the filter. Then comes the most important part of the entire Chemex brewing process, saturating also known as blooming the coffee.

To achieve the perfect bloom you will want to complete the following steps:

Once the water reaches a boil, remove it from the heat source and let it cool 20-30 seconds before pouring.

To achieve a perfect bloom:

  • Pour the water over the coffee beans, only pouring enough to fully saturate the coffee beans.
  • Ensure all grounds are evenly saturated. Hit any spots which might still be dry after the first pour.
  • Wait about 40 seconds and you will observe bubbles of carbon dioxide that will escape from the grounds.
  • Wait for about half an hour. 

Step 6: Pour Water

Blooming the coffee is the most important step of the Chemex brewing process.
Blooming the coffee is the most important step of the Chemex brewing process.

Gently run water in a circular or spiral motion until the water level reaches approximately half an inch beneath the top rim of the coffee maker.

Once the level is lower by an inch, pour once more and repeat the procedure until there’s no water left. Irrespective of the amount of water you use, try to ensure all your water is used within approximately two minutes. 

Step 7: Serve

Once all the water has passed through the filter you can then pour the coffee in a mug and serve it. 

Step 8: Clean Up 

To clean, dispose of the used filter, and use hot water to rinse the machine.  

Cozy’s Bottom Line

The Chemex is having a moment due to its ability to brew intense, bold and rich coffee. Once you have the process of brewing with a Chemex down you will find it is fairly simple to use! We hope you decide to give it a try.

Sending a rich and delicious coffee filled cheers!

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