How-To

How to Make the Perfect Coffee with the Chemex

Andrew Pautler

Brew Method: Chemex

The Chemex is one of the most iconic designs in specialty coffee, having received pop-culture status. Beyond its beautiful design, though, it creates an exquisite cup of coffee. The thicker paper filter helps to filter out some of the oils and create an exceptionally clean and nuanced cup of coffee. It also comes in a variety of sizes (up to 10 cups), so it is a great pour-over option for a larger group.

What You Need

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Coffee beansCoffee (24 grams)
Filtered waterWater (385 grams)

Brew Specs

Grind Medium-Coarse (18–20 on Baratza Encore)
Brew Ratio 16:1
Water Temp 195 - 205° F (91 -96 ° C)
Total Brew Time 03:45
Total Time 06:00
  1. Measure out the coffee
    Measure out coffee.

    Using your digital scale, measure 24 grams of coffee. (Using the recommended 16:1 water-to-coffee ratio, 24 grams of coffee will lead to around 13 fluid ounces (~385mL) of water). The Chemex is made to share many times, so use 36 or 48 grams of coffee for two people.

  2. Grind the coffee
    Grind coffee to medium-coarse fineness.

    Using the Baratza Encore, the setting should be around 18 to 20. The coffee should be between the coarseness of table salt and kosher salt and look similar to the pictured coffee.

  3. Heat water to 195° to 205°F (91° to 96°C)
    Heat water to 195° to 205°F (91° to 96°C).

    If you do not have a kettle that will allow you to set a specific temperature, boil the water and then let it sit for 10 to 15 seconds to reduce the temperature.

  4. Rinse filter
    Rinse the filter.

    While the water is heating, place the paper filter in the Chemex and rinse with either the heated water or hot tap water (60 to 75 grams). Discard the rinse water. Rinsing the filter helps reduce any taste the paper may impart to the coffee. Because of the thicker paper of the Chemex filter, it is especially important to wet the filter first to avoid any paper tastes and ensure the structure of the filter in the cone.

  5. Grind the coffee
    Add the coffee grounds to the rinsed filter and zero the digital scale.

    At this stage, you should be ready to begin actually brewing the coffee.

  6. Bloom the coffee
    Bloom the coffee.

    Add about 50 grams of hot water (or double the weight of the coffee you used) in concentric circles to the coffee, making sure you cover the grounds completely. Blooming the coffee helps release carbon dioxide from the beans and leads to better extraction. If you have fresh coffee, you should notice the coffee “rise” to a dome shape, like dough rising, and start to bubble. It should take at least 20 seconds to slowly pour the water to complete this step. After pouring the water, wait an additional 25 seconds. (Brew time: 0:45).

  7. Slowly and continuously add the remaining water to the coffee
    Slowly and continuously add the remaining water to the coffee.

    Pour the remaining 335 grams of water onto the coffee, starting in the center and making concentric circles outward (making sure to not pour the water directly onto the paper filter because the water can pass through without fully extracting the coffee). Try to finish pouring the remaining water in about two minutes. (Brew time: 2:45).

  8. Allow water to fully drain through coffee
    Allow water to fully drain through coffee.

    Let the coffee drip until the coffee looks dry and is flat at the base of the brewer. If the grind size and pour rate were both correct, the coffee should finish filtering through after around a minute. (Brew time: 3:30–4:00).

  9. Enjoying the final product of a Chemex well-made
    Swirl & enjoy.

    Discard the paper filter and ground coffee (you can compost both of them). Swirl the coffee for even flavor distribution and enjoy.

Tips for Problem Solving

  • Put the multilayered side of the filter on the pouring side of the Chemex. This ensures the structure of the filter even when wet, so it doesn’t collapse into the pouring spout and affect airflow.
  • If brew time was too long, coarsen the grind of the coffee.
  • If brew time was too short, use a finer grind.
  • If the coffee is too bitter, it may be over-extracted, and you’ll want to coarsen the grind of the coffee.
  • If the coffee is too weak or astringent, it may be under-extracted, and you’ll want to use a finer grind next time.
Free Download

Download the free, printable coffee brew guide cheatsheet

  • Quick reference for ratios, water temp & brew times
  • 8 brew methods including chemex, V60, aeropress & more
  • Serving sizes and tips for each brew method
The Coffee Brew Guide Cheatsheet preview