How to Brew Chemex Coffee Like a Pro
Coffee. It's a big deal.
Well, to me and Logan it's a big deal.
We've been drinking Chemex at home for a little over two years. So we've had loads of time to tweak, test and perfect.
And when I say me I actually mean Logan. He's the scientist of the two of us. And he likes his methods to be repeatable and exact.
Me? I just want the damn thing to taste good.
As you can see I'm the one making out like a bandit in this situation.
I figure it's time for me to finally write a post on this. I've been making this exact method on my nom cast for weeks. So if you've been watching my Friday morning "Breakfast Hangs" than you're already all learned up.
Regardless, who doesn't like a method laid out in stone?
This method is designed to give you a strong, flavorful, low acid brew. We drink it black at the Byrd house. In fact, putting creamer in it would be a shame.
Sort of like adding ice to a glass of white wine. Sort of a low brow, ya know?
Not that I don't do that. I definitely do that.
The Best Coffee for Chemex Method
A little note on the coffees we brew. For Chemex method to be worth the effort, you'll want your coffee to be freshly roasted and single origin.
Freshly roasted coffee is very aromatic. When you squeeze your coffee bag and sniff the beans inside of it, it will smell nuanced and rich. And when fresh coffee is brewed it expands and bubbles as it releases carbon dioxide.
Old coffee won't bubble or rise; and it will taste acrid and bland.
Single origin coffees are all coffees that are listed with only one country of origin e.g. "Brazil" or "Sumatra." Single origin coffees will often also list an exact region like "Matalapa, El Salvador" or "Flecha Roja, Costa Rica."
A lot of coffees (Kona, for example) are actually blends. We generally buy our coffee from small, Charlottesville-local roasters who we know are doing single origin blends. There's nothing wrong with blends, they're just not ideal for Chemex. Especially when you're just learning what sorts of coffees you personally like brewing with this method.
We drink coffees with an Ethiopian origin the most frequently, although Javanese and Central American coffees have been making their way into the mix as well. We choose these coffees the most frequently because they're the most reliably delicious and flavorful, usually with notes of warm spices, cream, nuts, caramel, fruit or florals.
A lot of the coffees that are described as "rich" or "chocolatey" are best for espresso or french press. While those flavors are wonderful, coffee in that flavor category can be pretty flat when brewed chemex style. They often lack the nuance characteristic of the perfect Chemex brew.
We brew Medium Roast or Light Roast ("third wave") coffees, exclusively.
Dark roasts essentially burn off all of those interesting, delicious flavors in the coffee. A chemex brewed with dark roast coffee tastes savory, burnt and acidic.
Focus on coffees that have a cinnamon, golden brown or deep golden brown color profile and a matte finish.
Avoid coffees that are roasted to the point that they have an oily sheen.
Everything You Need for Chemex Method (with links)
The Perfect Chemex Brew, for Two
Created by Renee on September 29, 2016
NOTE: To brew single servings weigh out 21 grams for Medium Roast, 22.5 grams for Light Roast. Use the same method, but stop at 380 grams water for Medium Roast, 370 grams water for Light Roast.
- Total Time: 4m
- Serves: 2
- 8 cup Chemex vessel
- Unbleached filters
- Medium Roast or Light Roast Coffee
- Coffee grinder
- Kitchen scale
- A kettle
- Some delightfully large mugs
Everything You Need for Chemex Method
- Weigh out your coffee. The amount of coffee and water you need generally varies depending on the coffee you're using. For Medium Roast coffees: weigh out 42 grams of coffee for two servings. For Light Roast coffees: weigh out 44 grams of coffee for two servings.
- Set your filter in your vessel. Gently rinse the filter in cold water (this helps avoid a papery flavor in the cup). Pour out the water that will percolate into the brewer.
- Fill your kettle with water and bring it to a boil (approximately 205 degrees Fahrenheit).
- While the kettle is boiling, grind your coffee to about the coarseness of coarse sea salt or a little finer.
- Add the ground coffee to the wetted filter. Give the brewer a tap or two against your work surface to level out the grounds.
- Set the chemex with coffee in it on your kitchen scale and zero it out.
- Take your water off of the boil (boiling is around 209 degrees Fahrenheit) and set it aside for 1 minute, until it's cooled by about 4-5 degrees.
- Pouring in a circular motion, saturate the grounds with the hot water until you\'ve reached 150 grams water. This is called "blooming" the coffee as the coffee will expand and bubble, preparing it for an even extraction. Let the coffee bloom for about 45 seconds.
- Pour again working in a slow circular motion until the volume of the coffee in the top half of the brewer reaches about a fingertip down from the rim, or 450 grams of water total. Let percolate for a little less than a minute.
- Pour again (this is the last time). For Medium Roast, pour until you've reached 760 grams of water. For Light Roast, pour until you've reached 740 grams of water. Let percolate entirely.
- Remove the filter from the brewing vessel.
- Swirl the coffee in the vessel, pour into your mugs and enjoy hot!
Song in the video is by Johanna Warren, "Let Me Stay" from album Gemini I published September 16, 2016. PLEASE GO SUPPORT HER MUSIC! https://johannawarren.bandcamp.com