How To Brew Coffee With a Chemex Coffee Maker

published Feb 18, 2011
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(Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)

How many kitchen gadgets are also museum pieces? The Chemex coffee maker not only has a place in the Museum of Modern Art, its elegance and function have earned it a permanent place on my kitchen counter. Making a cup of coffee with this simple brewer isn’t quite as easy as pushing a button, but the rich, clean results are worth it.

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Not only is the Chemex brewer lovely to look at, it also makes great coffee. (Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)

What You Need

Coffee beans, ground or whole
Filtered water

Chemex coffee brewer
Chemex paper filter
Burr grinder (if starting with whole beans)


1. Measure out the appropriate amount of filtered water for the number of cups of coffee you are making, plus a couple additional ounces, and put it in the kettle to boil. Electric kettles are especially useful and quick for this process.

2. Open up the Chemex paper filter and place it inside the cone of the Chemex brewer. One side of the filter has three layers; align the filter so that this is on the spout side of the brewer.

3. Chemex filters are extra thick, which can sometimes lead to a papery taste in your coffee. Rinsing the filter with hot water will prevent this. Once your water comes to a boil, pour a couple ounces over the filter, wetting it completely.

4. Pour out any excess water from the brewer.

5. Measure your coffee beans and grind them if needed. (If you want to grind your beans at home, a burr grinder is a necessity when making coffee this way, as uniformly-sized grounds will ensure the water is moving through at the right rate. Blade grinders cut the beans into inconsistent pieces and will lead to coffee that is either too strong or too weak.) Chemex recommends 1 rounded tablespoon of coffee per 5-ounce cup, which makes a strong brew. Experiment and adjust this ratio to your taste.

6. During the course of rinsing the filter and measuring the beans, the water should have cooled to around 200°F, which is the right temperature for brewing. Pour enough water over the grounds to just get them wet and wait about 30 seconds as they “bloom,” becoming frothy and releasing carbon dioxide.

7. Slowly pour more water over the grounds until the water level is near the top of the cone. Pouring in a circular motion near the center of the grounds, try to keep the water around the same level until the kettle is empty. (This keeps the temperature of the water consistent.)

8. Once all the water has dripped through, remove the filter and grounds. Pour your coffee and enjoy!

9. To clean the brewer, just rinse it thoroughly after each use.

Additional Notes:
• To keep coffee hot, transfer it to a thermos right after brewing. The Chemex brewer can also be placed directly on a (non-electric) stove burner if you choose to reheat your coffee.
• For extra precision, a kitchen scale can be used to make sure all measurements are exact. First weigh the coffee beans and then weigh the water as it is being added, stopping when you reach the exact bean-to-water ratio you’re looking for.

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