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How to: Chemex

February 04, 2013
Category: in Skill-Building: Extraction
Originally invented in 1941, the Chemex is a classic in the world of brewing devices.  With its hourglass shape and classy wood collar and tie, it’s simple and attractive.  It’s also all-American, made by a family-owned business in western Massachusetts.   But does handsome and timeless translate into a good brew?  I decided to check it out using our Chemex guide.


The Process

  1. Fill your kettle three-quarters full with boiling water.

  2. Weigh and grind the coffee: I used 16 grams for 8 oz. of water and ground it on the “drip setting”

  3. Set up and rinse the filter:  One of the most unique parts about the Chemex is the extra-thick filters.  This allows the water to flow through slowly, making it hard to pour too quickly.  I folded the filter into a cone, then placed the 3-layer side toward the pouring spout.  I rinsed it with the water, then poured out the excess.

  4. Add the coffee:  About as simple as it sounds.  I placed the Chemex on the scale and tared it afterwards.

  5. Pre-infusion:  I poured water in to wet the grounds, then let it drain for about 30 seconds.

  6. The pour:  With the Chemex, the rate of the pour is less important.  Still, you want to pour it steadily in stages for a good extraction.  Since the Chemex drains more slowly, I just monitored the amount of water instead of the time.

  7. The result: It produced a solid, flavorful cup.  While it didn’t have the complexity of the Hario V60, the method is much less finicky.  Like the minimalist design, it produces a no-frills cup that’s great for daily drinking.


Unlike the Hario V60, the individual factors are less crucial in the brewing.  Since the filter is so thick, I didn’t have to pay as much attention to the time and speed of my pour.  As long as you have a scale and use the proper coffee to water ratio, you’ll get a good brew.

The Verdict

I now understand why people are crazy about their Chemex.  It looks good on your shelf, is easy to use, and produces the kind of coffee you want on a daily basis.  I doubt I would have the patience to make coffee with the Hario V60 every morning, but the Chemex is more manageable.   Lets just say it’s now on my wish list.
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