If you can’t get enough of the superior flavor of pour-over coffee and want to try your hand at using a Chemex brewer, you’ve come to the right place!
Brewing pour-over in a (traditionally) all-glass Chemex brewer leads to a clean, bright cup of coffee with undeniable smoothness. While it makes coffee with less body than other coffee brewing methods, the lack of bitterness more than makes up for it.
In this Chemex brew guide, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive walkthrough of the whole process from start to finish. We’ll talk about what roasts work best, grinding your beans, how many grams of coffee to use — it’s all here.
How a Chemex Brewer Works
The Chemex coffee maker is over 80 years old now. A traditional Chemex looks much like something you’d find in a laboratory, next to beakers and test tubes. That’s probably because it was invented by Dr. Peter Schlumbohm — a chemist.
If you haven’t used a Chemex brewer (or any pour-over setup) before, it’s a super simple design, like a Turkish coffee maker. Manual pour-overs use gravity to pull hot water through coffee grounds (similar to an automatic coffee maker, but without electricity).
What makes Chemex stand out from other brewing processes is the extra thick paper filters. These slow down the brewing for a richer cup of sediment-free coffee (no shade intended at you, French press).
Grind Size for Chemex Brewing Method
Chemex requires a coarser grind than a standard pour-over. So you’re looking for a medium-coarse grind. A nitro cold brew would require an extra-coarse grind.
Then, grind coffee until it’s similar in consistency to sea salt.
For the best flavor, always buy whole beans instead of pre-ground coffee and grind coffee at home right before brewing. Of course, to do this, you’ll need a grinder!
Step-by-Step Chemex Brew Guide
These instructions are for the classic 6-cup Chemex*. This brewing method will work even better if you have a few pieces of equipment (in addition to your Chemex!). We recommend a digital scale (some have built-in timers!) and a temperature control gooseneck kettle.
If that list of equipment seems intimidating, don’t worry! Even if you don’t have those things, you can still brew great coffee.
*If using another size Chemex, note that a good starting coffee-to-water ratio is 1:16. You can increase or decrease from there depending on how strong you like your coffee!
- Chemex coffee filters
- Digital scale (optional)
- Kettle (electric preferred)
- Whole bean coffee + grinder (or pre-ground coffee)
- Stir stick
…and, of course, your favorite mug!
Chemex Brewing Instructions
Ready? Let’s brew this.
Step 1: Prep
Grind and measure out 45 grams of coffee. If you aren’t a scale user, this is the equivalent of 5.5 Tablespoons.
Grab a paper filter* and put it in your Chemex. Using hot water, rinse the filter. This step helps the filter create a seal to the Chemex, removes paper flavors before brewing, and, bonus — the hot water will preheat your glass carafe!
Dump your rinse water before the next step.
*If using the traditional circular Chemex filter, you’ll need to fold it first. Fold the circle in half (half-moon shape), then in half again. You should now have a triangular shape with a curved base. Separate the 3rd and 4th layers and open it into a “cone” shape. Place the side of the filter with three layers along the spout side of the Chemex.
Step 2: Heat Your Water for Brewing
For stovetop users, bring cold, filtered water to a boil, then let it sit for a minute.
For temperature-control electric kettles, set it to 200-205 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 3: Let Your Grounds “Bloom”
Add your ground coffee to the Chemex filter.
If using a scale, place Chemex atop and hit the “tare” button. This is where a gooseneck spout comes in handy; pour hot water in a circular motion, saturating the grounds. Stop when the scale reads twice the weight of the coffee (so you’re adding 90 grams of water here!).
Without a scale, you’ll have to eyeball your first pour’s amount of water. The important part is soaking the coffee bed.
Give the coffee around 30 seconds to bloom; once the bubbling settles down, you’re ready for the next step.
Step 4: Second Pour (& Third & Fourth)
You’ll use the remaining water in a series of slow pours. Add around 200 grams of water with each pour until you’ve reached about 750 grams or your Chemex looks full. (Scale users: Remember to tare between pours.)
You’re aiming for a total brew time of 4-5 minutes, so pour water every minute or so. Keep using the slow circular pouring motion that you used for blooming the coffee; that way, you achieve even extraction and saturation.
Step 5: Finishing Up
Once you’ve added all your hot water, give it a little time to drip through the filter — leaving the coffee bed flat, not floating.
That’s a wrap! Discard the filter, pour, and enjoy!
Worried about your freshly-brewed java getting cold? Some coffee decanters are thermal to seal in that coveted heat: 11 Best Coffee Decanters [Benefits of Decanting Coffee]
What Roasts are Best for Chemex Brewing?
Medium roasts are the go-to for Chemex coffee makers, so we’d suggest starting there. Then, play around with other roasts; you may find that Chemex brewing brings out more body in your favorite light roasts and unique flavors in dark roasts, too!
If you sign up for a coffee roaster subscription service, you’ll always have fresh coffee on hand. Most subscriptions offer whole bean or pre-ground options, tons of roasts to choose from, and some — like Trade — sell coffee gear like Chemex brewers and filters.
Where to Buy a Chemex Coffee Maker?
Sometimes your local coffee shop will sell coffee makers like French presses and Chemex brewers. Or, if you signed up for a coffee subscription box, take advantage of your member savings to order a new coffee maker (if they carry Chemex!).
Add Your Two Cents: Moka Pot vs. French Press
It’s caffeine meets mad scientist when you bring home a Chemex! Add some eccentricity to your morning ritual with one of these hand blown glass carafes — you won’t regret it when you taste that first sip.
Refer back to this guide whenever you need a refresher on the coffee-to-water ratio or if you forget the optimal temperature for hot water.