With so many ways to make a great cup of coffee, it’s easy to get confused. Stainless, glass, pressurized, plastic, portable, french press, insulated, spill-proof, paperless, double walled, drip…walk into any good beverage shop and it seems there are more and more ways to make coffee extraction more overwhelming than what it needs to be.
While many options are electronic and technical, there are some excellent choices that don’t require fancy equipment or even a plug in for that matter. Chemex is one of them. Easy to use, portable, and makes an excellent clean and quick cup.
While it seems many people didn’t recognize the Chemex until its recent popularity spike, it was actually first invented by a chemist in 1941, and was added to the design collection of the Museum of Modern Art in 1943. Mary Tyler Moore actually even used a Chemex in her kitchen on the Mary Tyler Moore Show.
The Chemex is a simple hour-glass shaped glass flask. It utilizes folded cone-shaped paper filters, much thicker than a traditional drip filter. The coffee is made by the filter into the top of the flask, and filling it with medium to coarse coffee grinds. Hot water (at about 200 degrees) is then added to grounds just enough to saturate them, allowing the grounds to ‘bloom’ and start steeping. Water is then poured over the top of the grounds and allowed to drip through the paper.
Here are more exact instructions if you need:
- Add the folded filter to the Chemex, ensuring the 3-fold area of the filter is against the spout.
- Pour hot water over the paper to saturate it and to warm the glass. Pour this water out.
- For about 5 cups of coffee, add 8 Tbspns (45 grams) of medium to coarse grounds to the filter.
- Heat 26 ounces of water to about 200 degrees, ensuring its not boiling.
- Pour 3 ounces over the grounds to ‘bloom’ them, and let sit for 60 seconds
- Slowly pour hot water in a circular pattern over the grounds until the rim is reached. Let it drain about 1 inch, then top it off again. Do this 3 times, ensuring all grounds are soaked in the process.
- Let the coffee drain fully, and enjoy your coffee!
- Hint: If the coffee is a bit bitter, use a slightly coarser grind. If it tastes thin, use a slightly finer grind.
Are there any downsides? Well, maybe a few depending on how you view it. It does use paper, however you can purchase reusable cloth or stainless filters that replace the disposables (we highly recommend the stainless option!). They are also made of glass, so you had better not drop it or you’ll be visiting your neighborhood beverage shop real soon. Also, heat retention is an issue, although this is a minor issue since people who use a Chemex typically make enough to drink their coffee rather quickly, without the need of the coffee sitting for too long.
Overall, Chemex is an excellent choice for any coffee enthusiast. It’s quick, fast, and it truly tastes good, best used with a stainless filter to ensure all the delicious coffee oils and fine particulates that make a cup so flavorful are always in your cup. You can find one for purchase at Liquid Planet. Enjoy!