The Chemex Coffee Maker: An In-Depth Review
If you’ve ever seen this beautiful, classic hourglass carafe in the movies or in your local cafe, you may have first thought it was just a fancy container. However, the Chemex has had a storied history.
This iconic pour-over coffee maker will give you the cleanest, most perfect cup of coffee if you know how to use it. It’s a must-have in any coffee brewer’s kitchen.
Keep reading to see our in-depth review of the Chemex coffee maker!
What Is the Chemex Coffee Maker?
The Chemex is one of the manual or pour-over coffee makers/drip pot you can get. It has a unique design and brewing process for its shape and paper filters.
Essentially, a drip pot is a pour-over dripper combined with a carafe. It operates just like any other pour-over coffeemaker.
Its unique design has a beautiful hourglass-shaped glass with a beautiful wood collar and leather tie feature around its neck.
Born in Europe, Dr. Peter Schlumbohm’s first Chemex was patented in 1941, inspired by the shape of an Erlenmeyer flask. It was first manufactured in 1942 by the Chemex Corporation in the U.S.
Peter Schlumbohm used non-porous glass rather than plastic because the latter develops cracks and fissures over time and risks contaminating the flavor of the Chemex coffee.
Today, they make it of borosilicate glass to maintain both design and function.
Chemex filters are among the thickest you’ll ever find.
In fact, they are 30% thicker than others. Because of this thickness, Chemex coffee eliminates all the unwanted fats or oils from the brew, giving you a clean and flavorful cup with no bitterness or sediment.
Benefits of Using A Chemex Coffee Maker
If you love the idea of pour-over coffee makers but hate having to use it for groups of people, Chemex is the answer to your problems.
The smallest Chemex coffee makers make 3 cups, while there are also 6, 8, and 10-cup versions. This gives you a lot of flexibility and convenience with brewing coffee for your family and friends.
You can purchase the right size for the amount of coffee you normally have to brew and stop worrying about how to ply your cranky guests with their favorite brewed coffee!
Chemex Coffee Flavor
We know Chemex coffee makers for giving you the cleanest, lightest cup of coffee. This is because of its brewing process and unique paper filter, which is the thickest among all filters you’ll find in other pour-over coffee makers.
Chemex coffeemakers love it for the delicate flavor it produces, which is a stark contrast to anything a French Press can make. French press coffee cannot filter out a lot of the coffee grounds, which ends up giving you an oilier, heavier cup.
It is also the complete opposite in taste from what you’d get from an espresso machine.
An espresso machine uses immense pressure to force water through a coffee puck and produces really concentrated, rich, and oily coffee.
If you love drinking coffee that tastes similar to tea or prefer having a fresh, light cup in the morning, we highly recommend Chemex.
Fun and Flexible
If you’re a coffee nerd like us, you also love the learning process of figuring out how to perfect coffee with your newest brewer.
There’s just something about the journey and experimentation that makes it so much fun.
And of course, nothing beats that moment of nirvana when you finally get your brewing parameters perfect and drink that perfect cup of coffee at last.
If you love going through this type of journey, Chemex coffee makers are definitely something you will want to purchase.
It may not be as easy to use as other manual brewers, but it’s definitely a lot of fun to master.
Let’s face it: nothing can surpass the Chemex in its looks.
It has an iconic, classic, hourglass design. The glass makes your coffee look like a million bucks, making it the perfect server or carafe to awe your guests.
It’s enough to beautify your coffee nook and let everyone know that you are a true coffee aficionado.
Chemex Coffee Maker Models
The Classic Series
The classic series Chemex is the basic series that comes in 3, 6, 8, and 10-cup capacities.
It also has that beautiful wooden collar with a leather tie. The collar doubles as protection from the warm surface, in case you’re sensitive to that, and an aesthetic element.
The Glass Handle
The Chemex coffeemaker from this series is very similar to the classic with one noticeable addition: its glass handle.
Its advantage is that you can pour the coffee more easily, which is a consideration when you frequently entertain guests.
Design-wise, the handle seamlessly follows the classic design and shape. Just like the carafe, it is also resistant to heat.
Just note that with this handle, your Chemex will no longer be compatible with the wooden collar.
Its advantage is without the wood collar and leather tie, you will not have the hassle of tying and untying the strap whenever you wash your Chemex.
The wood may not age well, especially if it frequently gets wet.
If you’re ready to splurge on your purchase, the hand-blown series will give you that extra element to your coffee nook.
These beautifully crafted models come in 3, 5, 8, and 13-cup versions. This is the only series that offers such a big capacity.
However, if you choose these coffee makers, be prepared to pay extra for that incredible craftsmanship.
If you’re looking for a Chemex that is the easiest to use, look no further than the Ottomatic.
Similar to other coffee machines, this is an automatic brewer that has a water reservoir and hot plate to do the heavy lifting for you.
The machine heats the water to the right temperature and pours it consistently onto your grounds to deliver that perfect cup without the hassle.
You may choose to get this with or without a carafe.
But Before Buying a Chemex…
Pour-over coffee is not for everyone because of the work, preparation, and learning curve it takes to master it.
However, this technique is excellent for light to medium roast coffee because it highlights the flavors and characteristics of the beans.
It also makes for a great hobby to where it can get extremely addicting to master it!
Note that if you hate having to do a lot of things in the morning and just want a quick brewed coffee, this may not be suitable for you.
The Chemex is one of the most difficult brewers to master, so it will take a lot of time, patience, and studying to get excellent coffee out of it consistently.
Because of its large opening, other details like pouring technique and coffee grind size have an enormous impact on your end products.
Other things to note is that this is pricey when compared to a plastic v60, for example. Plus, because it’s made of glass, it’s breakable. So if you’re a clumsy person, this is something to keep in mind.
Brewing Process: Chemex Coffee Maker
- Ratio: 60g of ground coffee to 1 liter of water
- Use a ratio of 2:1 or 3:1 for the bloom water (e.g. 30g of coffee to 60 – 90 ml of hot water for the bloom phase)
- Good coffee beans
- Chemex brewer
- Chemex filters
- Gooseneck kettle with thermometer
- Digital scale
NOTE: We highly recommend getting fresh, whole coffee beans and grinding it right before you brew to make sure you get the best result and prevent using stale beans.
How to Brew Chemex Coffee (James Hoffman Technique):
The technique for a Chemex is very similar to brewing coffee in a v60.
- Weigh your coffee and grind it to a medium-fine size with your burr grinder.
- Heat your water to about 96 to 100 degrees celsius. The lighter the roast, the hotter your water should be.
- Fold your Chemex filter into four, then separate it between 3 layers on one side and 1 layer of paper on the other.
- Place the filter on your Chemex, placing the 3-ply side on the spout portion of the Chemex.
- Rinse out the filter paper with a lot of hot water to get rid of the papery taste and preheat your Chemex.
- Pour your ground coffee in the middle, making sure it’s flat.
- Start your timer and begin pouring your hot water (note the bloom ratio above) in circles on the coffee.
- Immediately start swirling your Chemex so that the water evenly saturates all the grounds. Do this until the slurry looks evenly mixed.
- Rest the coffee and let it bloom between 30 to 45 seconds to let the carbon out.
- Pour hot water in one continuous, circular pour until you reach 60% of your target brew weight. This phase should end by 1 min. and 15 secs.
- Pour the next 40% of your total brew weight in the next 30 seconds.
- Stir the slurry once clockwise and once counterclockwise.
- Allow your coffee to drain.
- When it is safe to do so, give your brewed coffee one final swirl to knock off any grounds that may be on the sides.
- Airlock – This will stop the flow of coffee because air will stop flowing to the bottom chamber and build up pressure in the brewer. This causes your brew to stall and can happen when the Chemex filters stick to the spout of the brew.
- Filter collapse – Since the filters are folded in a way that one side will have three layers of paper on one side and one layer on the other, there is a tendency that the one layer may collapse if you line it up with the side of the spout.
- Insufficient filter rinse – Because the paper filter is 3x thicker than most filters, if you do not rinse it enough, it can give a papery taste to your coffee.
- Overcompensating for the longer brew time – Expect that the brew time for the Chemex will be much longer because of the thickness of the paper. If you try to compensate for this too much by grinding much coarser than you would for a V60, it will cause awful coffee.
BREW HACK: You can use a high-quality chopstick to prevent this by sticking it into the side The idea behind this is it will ensure that there will always be an air gap between the filter and brewer.
The Chemex is one brewer any coffee lover should have. So what are you waiting for? Go grab yourself one!