How to Make Great Coffee with the Chemex

Dayne Dayne (57)
10 minutes

The Chemex is a glass container, manual pour over style coffeemaker invented by Peter J. Schlumbohm, Ph.D., in 1941. It has been heralded as one of the best designed products in modern times and is on display in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Smithsonian, the Philadelphia Museum and the Corning Museum.

The result of this design is a coffee akin to drip coffee, but since it is prepared manually with much more care than a drip coffee machine, it can make a much cleaner cup with flavors you have never experienced out of a drip machine. The chemex filters used are also responsible for some of these characteristics because it is a thicker filter than most. This leads to filtering out many of the oils present in much of the coffee you're used to.

If you've got your Chemex and you're ready to go, lets get started!

Chemex ×1
kettle (gooseneck preferred) ×1
Chemex filter ×1
scale ×1
whole bean coffee ×1

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Filling a gooseneck kettle with water

Measure out about 1000g of water. Since 1g = 1ml, you can also use 1000ml or 1L.

Close up of coffee grounds

Grind about 45g of fresh coffee. The grind you're shooting for is just finer than a french press grind.

wetting the filter of a chemex

Unfold the chemex filter and place the side with 3 layers on the spout of the Chemex. This allows air to escape during the brewing process. Rinse the filter with a good amount of water.

top down view of water being poured from a chemex into a mug

Folding the filter over and holding it in place, empty the Chemex. I usually pour this into my coffee mug to preheat it a bit.

top down view of a chemex coffee maker filled with dry coffee grounds

Shake the Chemex a bit to settle the grounds flat. Make sure to zero out your scale for the first pour.

top down view of a chemex coffee maker filled with wet coffee grounds

Pour about 100g of water evenly over the grounds and start your timer. Optional: some people like to stir gently at this point to ensure all of the grounds are saturated. I like to think I can pour evenly enough that this is not necessary.

45 seconds after you finished your first pour, begin the second pour. Slowly pour 300g of water in concentric circles, avoiding the edges of the filter. Your total weight after this pour will be 400g.

At roughly 2:30 (or when most of the water is gone from the grounds), begin pouring the final 300g of water. Use the same method as the second pour but make sure you don't pour higher than the previous maximum height already established by the second pour. Your final weight at the end of this will be 700g.

pouring chemex coffee into a mug

Swirl the coffee in the Chemex and serve it!

Our guide makes picking the perfect espresso machine for any occasion a breeze!
Odin Odin (180)

We love good coffee of all kinds, but there’s something extra special about the way a fresh-pulled shot of espresso goes down… that rich ambrosia scent, that nutty roasted goodness filling the morning air. It’s pure bean magic. Recreating that coffee shop magic at home has become a necessity for anyone working from home. Still, there’s a conflicting mess of information out there about which espresso machine is “the best.” Fifteen unique espresso machines for fifteen unique situations! We wanted to do something a little different and find just the right espresso machines for various homes and budgets. And so, here is the fruit of our passion for the high-tech world of the best espresso, our gift to all you fellow bean-lovers desperate for the perfect home pull—the fifteen unique espresso machines for fifteen unique situations. True Espresso Machines vs. Pods Note that all of the machines listed here are true espresso machines. We don’t like using pods because of the environmental downsides and the hassle, and we generally don’t think the taste is as good as a properly pulled shot (even from a cheaper espresso machine!). There are many faux espresso machines on the market, too, which fail to provide the 15 bars of pressure needed to pull a true espresso. We include a couple of stovetop espresso makers because of their usefulness and novelty status, but be aware that you’re not getting a “true” espresso with anything that can’t produce a high level of pressure. What is espresso? True espresso has a rich tiger-striped crema on the top due to the high-pressure method of making the espresso. Bars of pressure Espresso is an Italian coffee brewing method that has gained international recognition as a staple for coffee aficionados and average drinkers alike. Espresso is made by forcing a small amount of near-boiling water through coffee grounds at a minimum of 9 bars of pressure (one “bar” is a measurement of pressure which is equal to the atmospheric pressure at sea level, so “9 bars” is nine times the pressure of the atmosphere at sea level). Crema top True espresso also has a rich tiger-striped crema on the top due to the high-pressure method of making the espresso. The heat and pressure strip essential oils from the coffee grounds, and the aeration created by this process helps produce the foam. Many machines are equipped with a portafilter that increases this aeration effect and thereby creating the effect of a fuller crema. However, it must be noted that the use of a portafilter doesn’t create a true crema — one that is filled with the oils from the coffee beans — it only creates the appearance of one through pressure and aeration. Espresso beans and pressure The best way to get crema from an espresso machine is to select fresh beans from a region known for its espresso bean (which have a high oil content), ensure that the pressure and temperature are right, grind the beans fresh and finely, and tamp the espresso grounds down with around 30lbs of pressure, so the water is passed through them at the right speed. Repair, warranties, and machine lifespan Espresso machines work because they generate a lot of heat and pressure. This is great for your morning espresso but plays havoc with all but the most sturdily-built machines. Sometimes, defects in build quality that might not be otherwise apparent will end up emerging after a few uses due to that pressure and heat — plastic parts, especially, are vulnerable to this. It’s vital to have a warranty in place to protect your investment! Why do espresso machines break? One of the many reasons why people become frustrated when buying an espresso machine, only to have it fail around six months in, is because they expect it to continue functioning without any maintenance. because of the high pressure and heat that these devices operate under, certain types of maintenance are absolutely required. A build-up of minerals on the inside of the espresso machine’s pipes will, for instance, increase the pressure of the water passing through those pipes (a smaller diameter within the pipe equals greater pressure), and over time this added pressure can exceed the limits of what certain parts of the machine can handle. How long do espresso machines last? Carefully cared for, an espresso machine should last years — even the cheapest espresso machines should last two years before needing a major servicing. Eventually, of course, certain interior elements like rubber hoses or gaskets will also need to be replaced — but this can usually be done by any capable DIYer, or by a local appliance repairman, or even a volunteer from a local Maker Space. Our recommendation: extended appliance warranty All of this said, we strongly recommend getting an extended appliance warranty on any expensive piece of machinery — on top of the at least one year of comprehensive warranty for parts and labor that any reputable company will provide. There’s always the chance when dealing with mass-produced machinery that your device has a random defect. In this case, it’s vital to have a warranty in place to protect your investment. In the end, with proper maintenance and care, however, a good espresso machine will last years and provide you with multiple daily pulls of crema-topped goodness.