There are a lot of coffee brewing methods out there and they are not created equal. Follow along to learn why the Chemex is the only method we use in our home and why we LOVE it!
If you’ve read my about me page, then you know that coffee is an important part of our day. I asked my husband, Daniel, to guest post for this because he is a serious guru on the matter. It’s funny because he actually did not like coffee until he got a Dutch Bros job several years ago. Since then, he has grown a passion for what makes a cup of coffee truly high quality and the best brewing methods for different uses. My love for high quality coffee has grown with his, as well. We hope your knowledge of coffee brewing methods, and the benefits of them, grow as you continue to read below.
Choosing your brewing method
There are a handful of ways to brew a cup of coffee. It all depends on how busy you are and/or how “hands on” (or hands off) you want to be with the brewing process. Let’s dive into a couple of the more popular brewing methods.
There is the immersion method which includes the Aeropress and the French Press ways of brewing coffee. Immersion methods involve immersing the coffee grounds in the water and letting them set for “x” amount of time. This allows you to do other tasks while your coffee is brewing.
Then there is the pour-over method which can include the Hario V60 and the Chemex. This method is more hands on. You have to continually monitor the water level and add more water, making sure you get an even coverage of water over the coffee grounds. I would not recommend leaving for too long to do any other tasks, as this could affect the flavor of the coffee.
What is a Chemex?
The Chemex is a coffeemaker that was invented in 1941 by Dr. Peter Schlumbohm. Here’s the source. As stated before, it falls within the pour-over method of coffee brewing. It has an hourglass shape and definitely carries a look of elegance about it.
Why we love our Chemex
There are so many things to love about this particular way of brewing coffee! I stated earlier that it definitely looks elegant. Since I think of brewing coffee as an art form, the form definitely matches the function in this case.
What sets Chemex apart from all other brewing methods is the fact that it uses double bonded filters. Double bonded filters filter out more oils when you are brewing coffee. Why does this matter? The more oils that you are able to hold back while brewing coffee, the more natural flavor you can taste from the coffee itself. In other words, this method delivers the “cleanest” cup of coffee. We also use the Chemex to make cold brew coffee for this reason.
I also love how the Chemex is stove friendly. It’s perfect for when your coffee cools down if you were not able to get to it in time. If that ever happens you can place your Chemex on the stove and warm up whatever coffee is remaining.
Your choice of bean also makes a difference in the outcome of the coffee. Not all coffee beans are created equal. The flavor varies depending on a few different aspects. There are factors such as: elevation, weather, soil, and how the coffee beans were washed/dried. Once I really dug into learning about coffee, I learned of the “coffee wheel”(here is a resource) which shows the vast amount of flavors coffee can have. The double bonded filters really help bring out these potential flavors of coffee.
As I stated before, the Chemex is a more hands on way to brew your coffee, which I love. I love playing a bigger part in brewing the coffee and not leaving it up to some machine. Plus whenever I brew Chemex coffee it has a calming effect on me.
How to use a Chemex
After choosing your ratio and heating up your filtered water (details on those will be down below), put the filter into the Chemex and pour the hot water over it. The goal is to try and wet the entire filter.
This process, called “pre-wetting,” warms the Chemex and filter and helps eliminate any taste of paper from the filter. This allows for a more “pure” coffee flavor. After doing so, dump the water out of the Chemex into the sink. Then pour the coffee grounds into the filter and we are ready to start brewing!
Take the heated water and pour it over the coffee grounds in a circular motion. Pour just enough water to cover the coffee grounds, then let it sit for about 45 seconds before pouring again. The process of the water and coffee grounds mixing during that wait time is called “letting the coffee bloom.”
Letting the coffee bloom allows the carbon dioxide gases to release. The fresher the coffee, the more carbon dioxide you will have in your coffee grounds from the roasting process. As the coffee booms it will look the same as cookie dough in an oven, it will start to rise and expand.
After letting it bloom continue to pour water in a circular motion. I generally will pour about 100 grams of water, let it sit until the water level is just below the coffee grounds and pour another 100 grams. Do this until you reach the desired weight (in grams).
How to care for a Chemex
The way to care for a Chemex is just like a regular glass dish. Typically, we will use left over hot water from the kettle to pour into the empty Chemex after use and swish it around. Then, just dump the water into the sink and allow to air dry until next use.
You’ll want to do a good cleaning on it every so often, I’d say once a week if using it daily. The Chemex we have has a wooden handle tied on. To thoroughly clean the Chemex, you will remove the wooden piece and wash by hand with mild soap and water. Allow the Chemex to fully air dry, then re-attach the wooden handle.
Choosing your ratio
You will want to figure out how strong you want your coffee in terms of the ratio of beans to water. If you have a preferred ratio you already use for any other brewing method, it will be the same with the Chemex.
There are two ways to measure. You can measure by volume, using a tablespoon for the beans and measuring out the fluid ounces of water you will use. If you are looking for recommendations with what ratio to use, it will vary depending on your preference.
We prefer a stronger cup of coffee in our house. If you also enjoy a stronger cup of coffee, I would recommend the ratio we use in our home. The ratio is 1:11 ratio (one gram of beans for every eleven grams of water). If you want a cup of coffee that isn’t quite as strong you can go with either a 1:16 or a 1:18 ratio.
Why water temperature matters
Another aspect of coffee brewing is the water temperature. Therefore, you will need a thermometer for keeping an eye on the temperature. You don’t want to allow your water to get too hot or else it will over-extract the coffee. Over-extraction will leave the coffee tasting more bitter or burnt. Alternatively, If your water temperature is too cool it will have a lack of flavor and may even be “sour.”
The ideal range for coffee brewing would be to have the temperature anywhere from 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. As long as you stay in that range your coffee will be that much better!
Coffee brewing tips
- For a more consistent cup of coffee, I recommend using a scale to measure out the beans and go through the coffee brewing process. Coffee beans vary in size and density. If you use a tablespoon for measuring out coffee beans the weight will always change with every scoop of beans you use, which leads to a more inconsistent cup of coffee.
- I recommend using a kettle with a thermometer in it. We love our Bonavita gooseneck electric kettle, but they no longer make it. I recommend this kettle if you are ready to jump in and make some high quality coffee.
- I recommend using natural, unbleached coffee filters
- There are multiple sizes of Chemex, make sure you get the size appropriate for your coffee brewing habits.
- Here is a 6 cup, medium sized Chemex, that I recommend.
Comment below with your favorite coffee brewing method, we would love your input!
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