If you’ve recently decided that you want to give this whole coffee brewing thing a chance, we’d like to welcome you to the fascinating world of true coffee lovers. One of the not-so-many things that you’ll need to accompany you on this journey is a coffee maker.
It’s not always a matter of finding the right one, but of testing multiple products and experimenting to understand what each type of brewer brings in terms of aroma, flavor, and aftertaste.
Today, we’re going to be talking about the Chemex coffee maker, a name that’s been an icon for decades.
Chemex Coffee Maker (REVIEW)
The Chemex coffee maker falls under the drip pot category, one that has a pretty bad reputation compared to other brewers on the market.
A combination between a carafe and a pour-over, a drop pot is designed to make excellent coffee in minutes, as long as you learn to master a few things before investing in a product like the Chemex.
Even if pour-over coffee hasn’t been around for that long, the Chemex Classic Series has been sold for the past 70 years.
Created by research chemist Peter Schlumbohm, not much has changed about the Chemex coffee maker since it was first made. To this day, it is considered one of the best pour-over coffee makers on the market, which is to be expected considering that it was created by someone with a chemistry background.
- Very pleasing aesthetic.
- Multiple size options.
- Brews rich coffee.
- Works for making cold brew.
- Can take a while to master.
- Glass can shatter easily.
The Chemex Design
From an aesthetic point of view, maybe it doesn’t even matter what a coffee brewer looks like, but design is much more than just looks; it also says something about functionality.
When it comes to the Chemex, this little coffee maker has the best of both worlds. Aside from actually getting the job done, the Chemex coffee maker looks gorgeous. Even if it doesn’t have stunning details, it is a clean and clear product which happens to be 100 percent functional.
Choosing a Chemex coffee maker means you’ll be allowed to make all sorts of brew quantities, for 3 to 10 cups. Every one of the models has the Chemex well-known filter. You can opt for their natural brown filters, the oxygen-cleansed white filters, or the cloth filters (which are reusable).
After choosing one of the available sizes, it’s time to pick one of the two styles. The Chemex Classic series comes with a wooden collar and a leather cord ties around the waist. The combination between these two materials is beautifully completed by the glass construction.
The other option you have available is the Chemex Handblown. Chemex uses borosilicate glass to make this beauty, with the arched glass handle being the detail that will blow your mind if you are a minimalist.
One of the things that we’d like to point out about the Chemex Classic Series is that the construction is not safe for dishwasher cleaning. Even so, a simple hot water rinse just after you’re done brewing your coffee should suffice.
Chemex Coffee Maker Usability
When thinking about buying a coffee maker, you need to consider the ease of use. In this chapter, there are a few things to be said about the Chemex.
Generally speaking, pour over brewers are designed with barriers that are meant to restrict water flow, but this is something that you don’t see in the Chemex, and it is precisely this large opening that makes it one of the best coffee brewers of its kind.
Because of the large opening, you will be required to pay closer attention to variables such as grind size or pouring in order to control the water flow, which doesn’t make the Chemex the best option for an amateur coffee enthusiasts, so if you’re never used this type of product before, the Chemex might not be the best one to start with.
The Chemex is rather a coffee maker for people with a little bit of brewing experience, and even those who have used other pour-over makers before might go through a trial and error process before they learn how to use the coffee and the Chemex to their advantage.
Even if the rather complicated process behind it, the Chemex coffee maker can render exceptional results once you’ve mastered the brewing process.
The Brewing Process
A coffee maker review can never be complete unless we talk about the brewing process.
First of all, it is pretty clear that this brewer is meant to be used with its proprietary double-bonded paper filters because they are thicker compared to pretty much every other paper filter you can buy. These filters slow down the draining process which helps you get the best flavor out of your grounds. They are also efficient in terms of how much bitterness they can extract from the grounds.
When you compare the Chemex to similar coffee makers, it doesn’t give out the same intense flavors and, if you’re brewing coffee with strong fruit flavors, that might be a downside. Therefore, a question arises: is there a way to control the flavor of the coffee when you’re using the Chemex?
As every expert barista will tell you, the grind size and the ratio offer a lot of control over the flavor of the coffee that comes out on the other side. This is yet another reason why the Chemex isn’t designed for a novice, because you have to know how to create proper proportions of water and coffee to get the best out of your grounds.
The grind size, as we mentioned before, plays a huge part in tweaking the brewing process to gain more control over the result. Chemex suggests using their coffee maker with medium-coarse grind. One thing that’s truly astonishing here is that dark-roast coffee turns out tasting amazing. The filters do an amazing job at removing bitterness from the coffee and leave it with an excellent taste.
One final bit of amazing news is that the Chemex coffee maker goes a long way in helping you make perfect cold brew. After the coffee has steeped overnight in a mason jar, you can use the Chemex to filter it and be left with a smooth and rich taste.
How to Use Chemex: STEPS
Making coffee with the Chemex requires little inventory except for exceptional coffee, the Chemex recipient, the Chemex filter, and a gooseneck kettle.
Even if we talked about the brewing process in a more intimidating manner, practice makes perfect with pretty much every coffee brewing method, so don’t let anything stop you from taking the first step to master making coffee with the Chemex.
There are four steps that you’re going to follow before you can enjoy a cup of coffee:
- Getting the right grind is going to be an important part of using a pour-over coffee maker. The general rule of thumb when you’re grinding your coffee is that coarser grinds lead to sweeter coffee, while finer grinds enhance the flavor.For the Chemex, experts recommend using a medium-coarse grind and about 50 to 57 grams of coffee.
- For the next step, you want to fold your Chemex filter and remember that these filters are 20 to 30 percent heavier compared to your average paper filters, which makes them better at retaining suspended oils and solids.Before we explain how to hold traditional filters, we have to mention the fact that you can also purchase pre-folded Chemex filters in round and square, eliminating the folding hassle that makes mornings a little more complicated.You will discover that the traditional Chemex filter is basically an unfolded circle that you need to fold in half once (must resemble a half moon) and then once more, until it looks like a curved-base triangle. As you’re looking at the layered side of this triangle, separate the third and fourth layer and open then up.
Once the filter is folded, you want to place it on top of the Chemex coffee maker whilst making sure that the side with three layers does along the spout. Remember to rinse the filter with boiled water if you want to ensure excellent coffee taste.
- Before you get to put the ground coffee in the filter, it’s really important that you get the water-to-coffee ratio right. Generally speaking, you want two tablespoons of coffee for every six ounces of water.
- It’s time to add your ground coffee to the filter and start pouring the water. Always keep the ratio in mind if you want the best-tasting cup of coffee in the end. Once the water starts boiling, turn off the stove and leave it for 30 seconds.This will allow the water to reach optimal extraction temperature (195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit). This is where things get really interesting and you have to time and measure everything right.
Add water to wet the grounds and let them sit for 30 seconds. This blooming technique will allow the grounds to eliminate carbon dioxide and release a great aroma in the process. When the 30 seconds are up, pour the water slowly, starting from the middle and working in concentric circles towards the outer edge of the filter.
You want a consistent water level over the top of the grounds. If you’re making around six cups of coffee, the entire pour-over process should last about two and a half minutes.
Chemex Coffee Maker Durability
The Chemex is a coffee maker that should last a considerable amount of time IF you’re really careful with how you use it. The coffee maker may be big but it’s also very fragile, so portability is definitely not one of its strongest points. Even if it’s made with borosilicate glass and excels at withstanding really high temperature, it doesn’t have any shock resistance, so if you drop it or drop something on it, it’s most likely a goner.
It is definitely not a coffee maker that you can take with you camping, and it’s pretty much advisable that you leave it in one place unless you plan to move houses and you’re ready to pack it in loads of bubble wrap.
Chemex Coffe: VERDICT
Even if it’s considered to be one of the best pour-over coffee makers in decades, the Chemex is clearly not for everybody. Although made with temperature-resistant glass, it is fragile and prone to total destruction if not handled with care.
Aside from its bulkiness, the Chemex coffee maker has another specific feature: the fact that making tasty coffee with it is a learning curve, so if you’re an amateur that wants good coffee from the very first try, there are other models which might be more suitable to your needs.
If you don’t care about any of these potential drawbacks, Chemex coffee maker is clearly a brewer that deserves to be in the arsenal of every coffee enthusiast.
It is an excellent brewer and once you’ve adjusted the technique to make the best out of your favorite coffee grounds, you’ll never want to turn to any other maker out there.