The Joy Of Pour Over Coffee: How To Use A Chemex

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I’m going to kick things off by introducing you to a coffee maker that isn’t just about brewing; it’s about experiencing coffee in its most elegant form. It’s the Chemex. Artfully blending design with function, the Chemex has been a staple in the coffee community since its invention in 1941 by chemist Dr. Peter Schlumbohm.

You’re going to find out about what makes the Chemex unique. Its timeless hourglass shape isn’t just for show; it’s the secret to the purity and clarity in each cup. The design allows for a precise flow and an extraction that’s hard to replicate with other methods.

So, why do coffee enthusiasts keep reaching for their Chemex, even with an array of new gadgets popping up every year? It’s the ritual, the brew quality, and the joy of watching a clear, golden brew spiral its way through the vessel. They don’t just use it; they create experiences with it.

Mastering the Art of Chemex Brewing

If you’re looking to elevate your coffee game, mastering the Chemex brewing method is a surefire way to impress not just yourself, but also friends and family. Essentially, using a Chemex involves:

  1. selecting your favorite coffee beans
  2. grinding them to the right consistency
  3. boiling water
  4. folding and placing the filter
  5. blooming the grounds
  6. pouring your way to coffee excellence.
chemex with coffee in the base

The unique hourglass shape of the Chemex isn’t just for looks—it’s designed to regulate the brewing time and temperature, ensuring a smooth and rich extract. A thicker paper filter contributes to a cleaner cup, free from the oils and residues that other brewing methods might leave behind.

To begin, you want to start with a medium-coarse grind—a consistency similar to sea salt. This allows water to flow through at an ideal rate, extracting the coffee’s flavors and aromas just right. Then, it’s all about the pour. Start with a small amount of water in a circular motion to allow the grounds to “bloom,” releasing carbon dioxide and enhancing flavor.

The pouring technique is crucial. You’re aiming for a slow, steady spiral from the center outwards, taking care not to pour directly onto the filter’s edges—patience is key. The entire process should take about four minutes. If it’s much faster, your grind is too coarse; if it’s slower, it’s too fine. In my opinion, this is what makes or breaks the Chemex experience.

Remember, your first attempt doesn’t need to be your last. It’s a method that invites experimentation and adaptation for that perfect cup. Getting the variables right may take a few tries, but it’s worth it. Practice makes perfect, after all.

Folding to Perfection: The Chemex Filter Technique

person folding chemex filter and putting it in a chemex

The success of your Chemex coffee starts with mastering the iconic Chemex filter. This isn’t just a piece of paper; it’s the guardian of flavor, ensuring a clean cup by trapping unwanted oils and sediments.

To begin, you’re going to want to grab a Chemex bonded filter. These are thicker than your average filter, contributing to a uniquely pure brew. Now, let’s tackle the folding process:

Open the Chemex filter into a circle and find the side with multiple layers. This is your starting point. Fold the filter in half, bringing the multiple layers to meet each other, and create a semicircle.

Take your semicircle and fold it in half again, aligning the edges, resulting in a quarter circle. You’ll notice it now has a conical shape—but it’s not quite ready yet.

Open your folded filter into a funnel, placing the thick, three-layered side against the pouring spout. This alignment allows air to escape during the brewing process, preventing a vacuum seal and allowing for a smooth flow.

Gently press the filter against the walls of your Chemex. This snug fit is crucial. It stabilizes the filter and prevents it from collapsing inwards when you add your coffee and water.

After you’ve set up your filter, you might wonder about the ideal coffee to use. Well, that’s going to include understanding grind size, which I’ll cover next, and how it can make or break your Chemex brewing experience.

Crafting Your Best Cup: Grind Size and its Impact on Chemex Coffee

2 coffee beans on a pile of coffee grounds

We’ve explored the iconic Chemex and mastered the art of folding the perfect filter. Now let’s turn our attention to the grind. Grind size isn’t just a minor detail, it’s a crucial player in the brewing game, particularly with a Chemex.

If you want to brew coffee that resonates with your taste buds, getting the grind size right should be at the top of your list. The Chemex requires a medium-coarse grind, somewhat similar to sea salt. Go too fine, and you might find your coffee bitter and over-extracted. Too coarse, and your brew could be underwhelmingly weak.

I’m going to recommend grind sizes for different Chemex models, because yes, size does matter here. For smaller models, you might want to stick to medium. For larger ones, leaning slightly towards the coarser end can ensure consistency and a balanced extraction.

Do you have a go-to grind size for your Chemex? This isn’t just about my recommendations; it’s also about what works for you. Start with my advice but feel free to adjust based on your preferences and the specific coffee beans you’re using.

Remember, the grind isn’t just about size; it’s about freshness, too. The best cup of coffee comes from beans ground just before brewing. Keep your beans whole and your grinder close!

Now, imagine having your grind size dialed in, and you’re ready to brew. Next, you’ll want to jazz up your Chemex experience. Don’t worry too much about getting every possible accessory. Just choose some that resonate with you and serve your needs.

Accessorize Your Chemex: Enhancing Your Brewing Experience

man pouring water into chemex with gooseneck kettle

Now that you’re familiar with the ins and outs of brewing coffee with a Chemex, let’s talk about the final touches that can elevate your coffee ritual. I’m going to introduce you to some must-have accessories that can help you consistently reproduce that delightful coffee shop quality right in your own kitchen.

First, a good scale is non-negotiable. Precision is key in brewing, and being able to measure your coffee and water ratio accurately ensures a perfect cup every time. Then, consider a gooseneck kettle. Its design offers you control over the pouring speed and water distribution, which is vital for the blooming phase of the brewing process.

Don’t forget a brush for cleaning – a Chemex’s unique shape requires a bit of care to keep it sparkling, which preserves not only its aesthetic but also the taste of your coffee. And if you want to keep your coffee warm without spoiling its flavor, a glass lid or a heat-retaining cover can be quite handy.

In my opinion, while these accessories aren’t strictly necessary, they are definitely worth the investment if you want to get the most out of your Chemex experience. Choose something that fits your style, and you can always adjust your approach down the road.

To wrap things up, embracing the Chemex method is more than just making coffee; it’s about appreciating the ritual of brewing and the joy of tasting coffee at its finest. With the right technique and accessories, your Chemex isn’t just a coffeemaker; it’s a gateway to a richer coffee experience. I really hope that you find as much pleasure in this process as countless others have. Remember, your first attempt doesn’t need to be your last – there’s a lot of joy in exploring and refining your brew. So cheers, to many memorable mornings and exceptional cups of coffee!

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