The Chemex: A manual coffee brewer

This classic manual coffee brewer is a great choice for couples, groups of friends or if you like to drink multiple cups of coffee in quick succession!

In the last couple of decades the Chemex has seen a resurgence in popularity (and for good reason). First sold in 1942, this beautiful manual coffee brewer is definitely a celebrity among its peers. It’s had cameo roles in Friends and the classic James Bond movie, From Russia with Love and is sure to get your heart racing this Valentine’s Day.

Before we plunge into a step-by-step guide on how to use your Chemex, let’s do a quick show of hands.

Who already owns one? You do? Good!

Now, for those of you who wanted to put their hands up but haven’t quite gotten around to buying your own, fear not, you can grab one here (there’s also an 8-cup available in the shop) and then we can crack on.

 

 

A step-by-step guide to using a Chemex

 

Preparation

Start by placing the Chemex filter in the brewer. It’s important to ensure the multiple folds line up against the spout (this helps to reinforce the filter, ready for pouring). Pour hot water around the edge of the filter (this makes the paper stick to the glass and creates an effective seal.) Discard the hot water.

Weigh and grind your coffee

Let’s assume you’ve got a good quality coffee grinder, but if you haven’t, we’d highly recommend this electric coffee grinder or this manual coffee grinder.

First of all, grind your coffee beans. You’ll need 42g (6 tablespoons). The consistency you’re looking for is of kosha salt (between table salt and rock salt).

Next, add your perfectly ground coffee to the Chemex filter. You’ll need to give the brewer a gentle tap to help centre the coffee. Now you’re ready to pop the Chemex onto your scales and tare (the tare button sets your scales to zero).

Saturate your coffee grounds

Chemex Brew Guide by Cracking Coffee

Once the Chemex is on the scales and you’ve tared, start a timer.

Using a circular motion, slowly pour the hot water over your coffee grounds until they’re all saturated (about 150ml). Give them a gentle stir – be sure to use a wooden stirrer to prevent damage to the glass. Stir until you’ve removed any dry lumps.

Pour over more water

After 45 seconds (keep an eye on your timer!), begin the second pour. Start by using a wiggly motion as it’ll help to reintegrate the coffee and water, then move back to the circular pouring motion.

It’s very important to pour evenly as this is what creates that beautiful light golden crema. If the pour is uneven, you’ll see dark patches appear on the surface. If this happens, you can tap them gently with a spoon and mix them in.

Fill until water reaches a fingertip away from the rim. This represents approximately 450ml of water.

Fill to the top

Chemex Brew Guide by Cracking Coffee

When your timer hits 1 minute 45 seconds, fill the brewer right to the top. This will reflect approximately 700ml of water.

Brew a delicious coffee!

After 4 minutes, the brewing process will nearly be complete. There’s a bubble in the glass which acts as a reference point, indicating 20 ounces. When the water reaches this bubble, remove the filter and let it drain into the sink.

And there you have it – a perfectly brewed Chemex coffee.

It’s always worth experimenting with your grind, if you have a good quality grinder then you’ll be able to ‘dial in’ your favourite consistency and always enjoy fresh coffee that tastes its best.

We hope you find this Chemex brewer walkthrough helpful. If you’d like to hone your technique, why not watch our video brew guide?