How To Brew Coffee With The Chemex :: Video Tutorial

 
 

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I ordered this Chemex brewer a few weeks back and have been playing with it a few times since.  At first I was a bit intimidated, but once I tried to use it a few times I quickly learned how to coax a sweet cup of coffee from her.  I think it’s a girl….don’t know why, but I just do ;)  There are a

13 Cup Handblown Chemex Coffee Brewer

few key things that you MUST have in order to produce a great cup of Chemex coffee.

Brewing coffee in a Chemex coffee brewer is quite easy, but will take a few attempts to perfect your technique.  Just follow my step by step instructions and you will be on the road to perfection.

Chemex Brewing Instructions (How To)


  1. Items you will need; Chemex Brewer, Fresh roasted whole bean coffee, clean water, kettle with narrow pour spout, scales.
  2. Fill 2 kettles with cold, clean water and place on burner. (don’t use distilled water!)
  3. Place folded filter in top of the chemex brewer with the side with the single paper opposite from the vent
  4. Pour the entire contents of kettle number one into the filter, ensuring you rinse every part of the filter. (eliminates bad taste & preheats)
  5. Weigh the appropriate amount of coffee at a rate of 65 grams / litre. (if you don’t have a digital scale, use 2 level TBS/ 6oz of water. Measure with whole beans prior to grinding.
  6. Add whole beans to grinder (Do not grind until 2 kettle of water is boiling)
  7. When water is boiling remove the kettle from the heat, empty the water from the brewer, replace filter, and add your freshly ground coffee to the center of the paper filter.
  8. Immediately start your 4 minute timer, and begin to slowly add the water to the grounds just a few drops at a time.  Wet the grounds, but not enough to cause the water to pass through into the brewer.
  9. Wait about 30 seconds
  10. 2nd Pour : Now add about half of the remaining water into the brewer, pouring quickly in a circular motion.  Wet all of the grounds and pour as though you are stirring with the water.
  11. 3rd Pour :  Wait a few moments and being to extremely slowly pour only into the center of the brew.  Pour in a circular motion, but only in the middle!
  12. Continue to pour until all of the water is in the brewer.
  13. The entire process should take about 4 minutes.  If it takes too long, then you should reduce your dose, or grind more coarsely next time.
  14. Serve and enjoy :)

That’s all there is to it!  You may have to play with the grind/dose/pour in order to produce the absolute perfect cup, but hey…it’s fun!  The Chemex brewer is only about $35 for a six cupper, and the handblown 13 cupper (like mine) is a bit more pricey, but quite a bit sturdier.  If you brew in the 13 cup chemex, don’t expect to brew all 13 cups at once.  This will require you to use two separate brews, one into the other.  Just rinse both filters prior to brewing, then run 2 cycles back to back.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips on using the Chemex coffee brewer.  Please do so in the comments below :)

This week I had the pleasure of trying a few coffees from The Green Coffee Bean Company from Alaska!  They didn’t elaborate about their sourcing and the bags didn’t indicate any certifications.  Their prices are extremely reasonable, with a pound running  from $7.99 to about $10!  I really enjoyed the Harar Longberry brewed many ways.  I also received a bag of their espresso blend, with light and dark roasted beans blended together.  The taste was kinda flat in the press, but boy did it shine when brewed in the Moka Pot!  I would’ve loved to have made espresso with it, but my machine isn’t cooperating :(  The longberry had great fruitiness, as I believe it was naturally processed (dried with the fruit still on the bean).  It’s good to know that Alaskans can get locally roasted fresh coffee!

I also received a very tiny sample from 35 North Coffee Co. I got almost 30 grams of Sumatra IKA Organic in a small fabric pouch.  I had just enough to brew one cup in my travel french press, and that was it.  When I brewed it, the coffee was about a week off of the roast and not protected from the oxygen so I imagine it didn’t have all of the flavor characteristics it would if it had been consumed quicker.  That being said, the flavor was very smooth and dark chocolaty.  The flavor wasn’t overwhelming, and it was pleasing to drink.  I would have liked to have tried it brewed various ways, but 30g only goes so far.

FREE COFFEE ALERT!

You have until 11:59 pm est on September 30th to enter this month’s coffee contest.  Enter the contest by leaving a comment, joining the CoffeeNate.com facebook page, signing up for email updates, or clicking ‘Digg’, Stumble or ‘Tweet’ on any post.  I’ll announce the winners via facebook and twitter on October 1st. Best of luck!!

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  • http://complexespresso.blogspot.com/ ComplexEspresso

    Nice tutorial Nate! I need a Chemex … it’s one of the few brew methods I don’t have but the Hario v60 is pretty similar. GREAT to see you got a new Vario!! I got mine a week or so ago and have loved the upgrade for my espresso grinds from the Virtuoso. I’m keeping both though :)

    • http://www.CoffeeNate.com/ Nate

      Thank you for dropping in! I do like the Vario, but I would definitely hang on to the Virtuoso. The Vario is not a great grinder for press pot.

  • http://dailydemitasse.com Daily Demitasse

    Hey Nate. Great tutorial. I liked how more detailed you were. I don’t have a Chemex yet, but it’s definitely on my list, along with the Vario.

    I’m really glad you mentioned the farmers becoming better educated in how to determine their quality of coffee. It’s a huge issue and great way to build relationships at Origin.

    Appreciate the shout out, thanks!
    ~Jennifer

    • http://www.CoffeeNate.com/ Nate

      Well if you’re getting both you can start with the Chemex, because $35 is easier to swallow than say $500 ;) My pleasure on mentioning your blog :)

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for the shout out! I definitely appreciate it! However, I’m now mad at you because I want another coffee gadget…the Chemex. I don’t know if I have any more room in my kitchen.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for the shout out! I definitely appreciate it! However, I’m now mad at you because I want another coffee gadget…the Chemex. I don’t know if I have any more room in my kitchen.

    • http://www.CoffeeNate.com/ Nate

      Funny you should say that Mike. My wife is starting to lament my coffee addiction, as I’ve taken over a large portion of the kitchen cabinets. I guess I have to make myself a lab in the basement…MUAHAHAHAHA MUUUUUAHAHAHAHAH!

      • Anonymous

        My dad had an awesome basement photography lab when I was growing up. I hope to some day model my coffee lab after it.

  • http://twitter.com/MetroEspresso Jack

    Hey Nate, great step-by-step post. I haven’t watched the video but read the write-up, but how does the taste compare to using a French Press? This makes me curious to buy a chemex, but still saving up to buy a decent espresso machine.

    • http://www.CoffeeNate.com/ Nate

      Thanks Jack! You must watch the video. It’s one of my better ones, because I videoed over my steps. So while I’m talking, you are seeing the process unfold. All videos are iPhone compatible now too :)
      The Chemex isn’t oily and muddy like the press. I like some grit, but some coffees are betting with a clean presentation. I think darker roasts especially do betting in the Chemex, but that’s my personal opinion. It is really smooth and easy like a Sunday morning type o’ brew.

  • GServo

    I dont know , or when but i will aquire a chemmex, it’s a dream of mine , when i start earning money on my photography, i will make that a gift to myself

    • http://coffeecupnews.org Jason Coffee

      I hope that is soon, your photography is great!

    • http://www.CoffeeNate.com/ Nate

      I can’t believe you’ve taken so many photos of them, yet do not own one ;) email me your address…seriously! I want to make your dream come true…your words not mine ;)

  • http://www.coffeecupnews.org JasonCoffee

    I love the shots showing the steps from your point of view. One of you best How Tos to date. “Folgers is the best!” lol. did you ever really think that?

    • http://www.CoffeeNate.com/ Nate

      Why thank you Mr. Coffee! I thought so too, and it was by accident. My Kodak Zi8 cam is a piece of GARBAGE…anyway, it appears focused when really it isn’t. So when I went to edit the video I noticed how disgusting the shots were. I decided to use my Lumix digital cam (records HD video too) and just capture the brewing process and use the audio from the original shoot. The final product was something I was quite proud of! Thank you for dropping in.

  • Stefan Thor

    I get a fine result brewing only 12oz of coffee with the white bleached paper by using a lot of water to rinse the filter and by using medium grind coffee. On my Solis Scala grinder(13 settings) on setting 6-7( 1 finest 13 coarsest) I get 30 sec of blooming before the coffee starts to drip anything coarser and I don’t get 30 sec of blooming. Some like Tom at Sweet Maria’s says that you should wet all the grounds at the beginning to prevent heat loss but I personally find that preheating the glass,your cup and and only serve 1/2 to 2/3 of a 6-7 oz cup and put the rest into a thermal kettle keeps the coffee hot. By wetting all the grounds at the beginning you will have coffee dripping before 30 sec is up and you will not get as much flavors from the coffee. But then to make life easier and not have to worry about pouring technique you could just use the clever dripper and just use a french press technique. I’m though too much of a coffee geek to do it the easy way ;)

    • http://www.CoffeeNate.com/ Nate

      Thanks for sharing Stefan!

  • Stefan Thor

    Do you know why Chemex has both unfolded/folded and square filters ? Is there any difference in performance ?

  • Stefan Thor

    Ok since you didn’t mention different pouring technique and wanted our own opinion I would like to share my experience as I’m starting to try new ways to do it. And so far I’ve tried two methods.

    Some say that you should avoid touching the edges since it will block the water flow and make a bitter cup so based on that idea my 1.technique is like this.

    I make a divot and pour just around 1oz of water there and let it bloom for about 20-30 sec. Then I pour from the middle in circular motion all most all the way to the edges and until the water flows to the edges and try to keep the brew low. With this method I find I get really clear and sweet cup.

    Then there are people who say that you are not getting the most out of your coffee with this technique so this leads to the 2. technique

    Make a divot and pour in the middle and let the coffee bloom for 20-30 sec. Then pour from the edges in circular motion all the way to the middle making sure to pour at last over the floating grounds in the middle and then pour in circular motion avoiding the edges.

    With this method I get more full bodied flavor but it’s not as sweet as I would like the Chemex to be and I think it would not complement coffees like Kenya or Yirgacheffe.

    I haven’t timed it but my feeling is that both brew take as long time.

    • Stefan Thor

      I just tried your method and I think it combines best of the two methods I mentioned. It’s more towards method 2 as to full bodied flavor but it still keeps the sweetness and brightness. I will though have to taste it out on Kenya or Yirgacheffe to see how they work with it. The coffee I used in all these tests is speciality Christmas blend from Icelandic company called Te og Kaffi(Te and Coffee). The only thing I know about it is that it’s coffee from Papua blended with some other coffees. Medium roasted with medium acidity,good body and fine balance. I find it has a lot of nuttiness(not dominant though) with some grape fruit taste in the finish. Ok I’m not the best person to describe the flavor patterns but I’m trying to learn. This is just to give you some idea of what I’m trying to talk about with some sense to it.