How to Use a Chemex Coffee Maker the EASY Way

Meet the Chemex Coffee Maker

Are you looking for an elegant style of coffee brewing? Do you want to brew the purest cup of coffee known to humankind? Then look no further than the Chemex coffee maker!

chemex coffee maker set

The Chemex design is simple yet elegant: an hourglass shaped glass vessel with a wooden collar. Read on to become a Chemex expert!

What Makes a Chemex Unique?

Let’s consider what makes the Chemex so special yet effective! Invented by the brilliant Peter Schlumbohm in 1941, the Chemex boasts these over other coffee makers:

  • High quality glass instead of plastic: no need to worry about ruining coffee flavor or getting plastic particles
  • Thicker paper coffee filter: more filtering for a very clean cup of coffee
  • Wooden collar: protect yourself from burning hot coffee with a fancy wooden and leather collar, that doesn’t get as hot as the glass brewer
chemex wooden collar

What You Need to Make Chemex Coffee

Not too many things!

But assuming you want to brew coffee the best way possible: Chemex filters, a coffee grinder (burr grinder is best for medium fine coffee grounds), kitchen scale, hot water, a spoon, and coffee beans of course!

Optional but highly recommend: a gooseneck kettle. This will keep the water hot and allow for precise + even pouring. Super important for the brew method we are about to learn!

How to Use a Chemex Coffee Maker

Just follow these 10 short steps!

Step 1: Measure the amount of coffee beans to grind.

We recommend between 1:15 or 1:10 – where the ratio is coffee to water. 1:15 is for weaker coffee while 1:10 would make a stronger cup.

Step 2: Grind the beans into coffee grounds.

We suggest burr grinders with grind settings for max control. If you grind finer than medium – you risk extracting too much and getting a bitter cup of coffee.

Step 3: Put the paper filter in place.

chemex paper filter

Chemex filters have creased edges that you unfold to make a cone. Place the paper filter at the top of the Chemex brewer. Turn it so the thicker side (with three layers) faces the spout.

Step 4: Boil water.

But you don’t want boiling water for the next steps, instead aim for around 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit (90 to 95 degrees Celsius). Boiling water will burn and ruin your coffee.

Step 5: Rinse the filter with hot water.

Pour hot water starting from the center then outwards. Let the water drain fully through the spout then pour it out into the sink. Why? Because this preheats the Chemex and prevents papery taste.

Step 6: Add and level the ground coffee.

Shake and tap the coffee maker lightly so the coffee bed has a flat surface. This makes sure the Chemex makes consistent coffee.

Step 7: Bloom the coffee (hopefully with a gooseneck kettle).

pour water from a gooseneck kettle for best results

You might be wondering what “bloom” means (I had the same question for real). This just means you slowly pour hot water (aim for 2:1 ratio of water to grounds) in a circular motion over the coffee grounds like in the filter rinse step. As soon as hot water hits the coffee, gas will escape and flavors develop. After 30 seconds, use a spoon to stir and level all the grounds.

Step 8: Slowly pour the rest of the water.

Use the same circular motion as before. Don’t pour too much at once: wait for all the water to drip from the top chamber to the bottom before your next pour. Keep the water level from rising too high in the brewer.

Step 9: Wait for coffee to drip then serve!

Once that’s all done: carefully remove the ground coffee + Chemex filter, then pour your coffee into a cup to serve. Well done!

Extra Step: Keep extra coffee warm.

Unlike other coffee makers that keeps your coffee warm, a Chemex won’t do this. So move all leftover coffee to a thermal carafe to keep the best cup of brewed coffee.

Pro coffee game tip: A little practice might help. I personally like to aim for four pours for my brew method. You can develop your own brew method by changing up: pouring motions, how many pours, brew time, amount/ grams of water, etc.

How to Clean a Chemex

Compared to other coffee makers – a Chemex is easy to clean.

clean chemex

When you are done brewing coffee:

  1. Throw away the ground coffee, the Chemex filter, and the remaining water
  2. Hand wash the coffee maker with warm water, without soap
  3. Wipe the wooden collar with a damp cloth, then air dry

That is all!

Chemex Coffee Maker vs. French Press

Overall you use a Chemex when you want more control over brewing coffee, while a French press is easier to brew coffee with.

And you get a clean and bright cup of coffee. Versus a more heavy, full bodied cup.

AspectChemexFrench Press
Flavor and Taste✅ clean and bright flavors✅ full bodied flavors
Brewing Control✅ lots of control over different aspects of brewing❌ less control
Elegance✅ visually appealing with glass, wooden collar, and special filters❌ very simple design
Brew Capacity✅ comes in different sizes✅ comes in different sizes
Easy Cleanup✅ very easy cleanup, just see above!❌ plunger is tough to clean
Variety of Drinks❌ mainly for coffee✅ you can brew tea as well
Brewing Time❌ can take over 5 minutes for blooming and water to drain✅ 5 minutes at most
Ease of use❌ you need more technique and maybe practice✅ simpler to use

Chemex vs. AeroPress

In short, use a Chemex for elegant home coffee brewing. While an AeroPress is good for travel.

The Chemex will brew smooth coffee vs rich / espresso like coffee from an AeroPress.

Exploring the AeroPress brewing process in depth will take too long for this article, so check out this page for a deep dive OR the table below for a quick comparison to Chemex.

AspectChemexAeroPress
Flavor and Taste✅ clean and bright flavors✅ you can brew range of different flavors
Brewing Control✅ lots of control over different aspects of brewing✅ lots of control via different brewing methods
Elegance✅ visually appealing with glass, wooden collar, and special filters❌ simple design
Brew Capacity✅ comes in different sizes❌ single serve brewing
Easy Cleanup✅ very easy cleanup, just see above!✅ easy to clean
Variety of Drinks❌ mainly for coffee✅ you can espresso too
Brewing Time❌ can take over 5 minutes for blooming and water to drain✅ few minutes at most
Ease of use❌ you need more technique and maybe practice✅ simpler to use

Conclusion

We’ve learned how elegant yet simple the Chemex is. Unique features like the special filters, glass, and wooden collar help you brew the perfect cup of coffee.

You do need a small amount of supplies for your Chemex: like a kettle, Chemex coffee filter, kitchen scale. Rinse water through the filter.

Then you can bloom and brew your coffee with the steps listed above. Remember to have coffee drip to the bottom of the Chemex before you pour more water. Don’t use too many grams of water!

Have fun creating your own pouring method.

And afterwards cleaning your Chemex is easy. Just let your water cool – then discard the filtered water, paper filter, and grounds. And rinse, that’s all.

We are confident you can now use a Chemex to brew the perfect cup of morning coffee at home.

Bryan Han

By day, Bryan is a software engineer with experience at startups and top software companies. By night, he runs and writes for My Kitchen Sensei. Bryan is especially proud of his cheap excursions to cheap Michelin rated restaurants throughout Asia and in Hong Kong during his exchange there. His favorites include nitro-cold brew coffee and steak.

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