Chemex Brewing 101

How to brew with a chemexToday we are so excited to welcome two of our favorite baristas, Jason Strother and Isaac Neale, to share their tips and technique for brewing coffee with a Chemex. Jason and Isaac are co owners of Kingdom Coffee & Cycles, one of our very favorite coffee spots in Springfield, MO. You've likely seen (many) photos of us either with coffees from their shop or inside their beautiful downtown location.

Kingdom Coffee Shop in Springfield MOKingdom Coffee in Springfield MOIf you ever find yourself in Springfield, we highly recommend you stop by their shop if you like good coffee and great people. We are stoked to learn from them today.

Isaac and Jason Isaac and JasonChemex is our favorite multi-cup brew method. Chemex filters are 20-30% heavier (more absorbent) to remove undesirable sediment particles and oils, producing a cleaner, sweeter cup of coffee (you can read more about Chemex filters here). The main drawback of using a Chemex is that it is not great for making a single cup of coffee unless you buy the single serving (3-cup) size Chemex.

Chemex requires an overall brew time of approximately 6 minutes. Coffee should be ground medium-fine. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the finest and 10 being the most coarse, this grind would be a 7 or 8. The more coffee you are brewing at a time, the coarser it should be. For this particular set of parameters, it will be closer to 11.

How to grind coffee beansHow to grind coffee beans Supplies:

-Coffee: Youโ€™ll need 42g of your favorite medium to light roast coffee.

-Grinder: We are using a Hario Slim Handmill. This is a burr grinder, which produces much more consistent granules than a blade grinder, which is really better suited for grinding spices. Almost any burr grinder is preferable to a blade grinder. We chose the Hario because of its affordability. 

-Scale: We are using the AWS (American Weight Systems) SC-2kg pocket scale. To consistently produce good coffee, it is imperative to measure all of your ingredients. (Too much water, youโ€™ll over extract the coffee; too little water, and youโ€™ll under extract the coffee.) We love this scale because it is affordable, durable, and compact.

-Kettle: We are using a Bonavita 1 Liter Electric Gooseneck Kettle. This kettle is very easy to use. You simply need to fill it, switch it on, and it will kick off automatically when it reaches temperature. You will need your water to be right around 200 degrees for brewing.  A simple way to achieve this is to let your water reach a boil, then let it sit for a minute or two.

-Chemex + filters: We are using the 6-cup Chemex, but these parameters will work with the 6-, 8-, or 10-cup Chemex. We prefer the bleached filters because they give a cleaner, truer extraction, imparting less papery taste to the coffee.

-Coffee cups: Any mugs will do, but make sure you preheat them by filling them halfway full with brew-temperature water to avoid thermal loss to the coffee.

-Timer (or iPhone): Anything that counts in seconds will work fine. Pro tip: You do not need to stop and restart the timer during extraction; you can let it run continuously using a bit of addition.

Step One: The Preparation. Weigh out your coffee (42g) and start heating your water. We are using a brew ratio of 1:15 grams (i.e., 1 gram of coffee to 15 grams of water), so you will need 630 grams of water for brewing and allow for 300 grams to rinse and preheat your vessels. You can go ahead and grind your coffee while youโ€™re waiting for your water to reach temperature.

How to brew coffee with a chemex      Step Two: The Filter. Open the filter and place it in the Chemex with the layered side toward the spout. Rinse the filter with brew-temperature water. Now add your coffee to the rinsed filter. This will help the filter to hold its shape as you remove it to pour out the rinse water. Once finished, place the filter back in the Chemex.

How to brew coffee with a chemex    How to brew coffee with a chemex   How to brew coffee with a chemex  Step Three: The bloom. Wet the grounds with 80-100 grams of water (about twice as much water as coffee grounds) and wait 45 to 60 seconds (depending on the age of your coffee). You should see some bubbles emerge from the grounds. This is trapped gas escaping the coffee, which will allow for a more even extraction. If you don't see any, this might indicate that your coffee is old.

How to brew coffee with a chemexHow to brew with a chemex.    Step Four: The Pour. You will now pour the remaining water (for a total of 630 grams of water) in a circular motion in the center of the grounds. Try to constrain your pour to the area of a half dollar. Avoid pouring water toward the edges, as the water will run down the outside of the Chemex wall without extracting the coffee properly.

How to brew with a chemex.   Step Five: The Finish. Once the stream of coffee exiting the filter slows to a drip, you can remove the filter, grounds and all, and dispose of it (we recommend tossing on your compost pile).

How to brew with a chemex.  How to brew with a chemex. Now you are ready to serve and enjoy! And if you enjoy pretty coffee photos, you can follow Kingdom on Instagram @kingdom_sgf.

Credits // Authors: Isaac Neale and Jason Strother. Photos and Video: Sarah Rhodes. Music: Jeremy Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions

  • Loved this article! Hope to see more coffee articles in the future. Really wish I could try out this coffee shop!

  • I don’t know what I would do without my Chemex! Great post!

  • I make Chemex coffee nearly exclusively at home; it is my preferred manner of brewing. We usually make about 8-10 cups per go, which can take a while but it’s worth it. I wonder if the wait is because our coffee is too finely ground? I usually use a dark roast – we like our coffee to add chest hair – and have had lovely results as long as I pre-wet the filter and give the first pour a chance to bloom. Cheers and YAY COFFEE.

  • I don’t drink coffee — like, ever, and I know, that’s basically blasphemy — but seeing this little gadget on Elise’s blog and now here basically confirms I’m nowhere near as cool as I thought I was. I guess this means I’m going to have to start drinking fancy coffee because, after all, everyone’s doing it, right?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Great tutorial! Too bad Phoenix AZ isn’t anywhere near Springfield. I’ve been debating whether to switch over from french press to Chemex for a while. (The only thing holding me back was really that I’m a creature of habit). Great tutorial! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I love this post! I’ve seen many coffee recipe posts but haven’t come across too many posts that get so in depth on the topic! As an aspiring coffee nerd, I am definitely going to refer to this! I would love to read more on the topic and hope to one day be able to share some tips of our own!

    -Tara
    themountaincreative.com

  • Hi! When you say “allow” for 300 grams of water for rinsing and preheating, is this in addition to the 630 grams? So, you need 630 grams for the coffee but you need to remember to heat another 300 for the other steps? Thanks!

  • What a great post! I’ve been brewing Chemex for a year, and overall it is my favorite! Sometimes my brews are better than others though. I’m excited to brew a batch tomorrow and see how it comes out. Thank you!

  • I am a big coffee fan! This coffee sounds absolutely amazing, although I would prefer it if it were easier to make a single serving ๐Ÿ™‚
    emmasbeginning.blogspot.com

  • my husband and i just got a chemex as a wedding gift. so this is perfect timing for this post. can’t wait to try it out!

  • Super excited about this post/video! I’m a big beer nerd, but have recently been interested in brewing coffee. This was just the push I needed to take the reins and start making my own at home!

  • Thanks for the refresher! I am going to get the scale out and check my measurements this afternoon. I brew with this method most of the time now although I use a Cilio ceramic filter holder. I like the Cilio because it works great for making one cup at a time. It holds #4 filters which we have for our Bonavita coffee machine, and bonus…the Cilio costs something like half of what a Chemex does (so I bought two).

  • Thank you for sharing this! I’ve been meaning to get a Chemex for my office since I’m not always able to run and get coffee before work–and, let’s be honest, it gets pretty expensive to buy coffee every day. I can’t wait to try this out!

    -Helen Grace

    http://www.sweethelengrace.com

  • This is a great tutorial — any chance you’ll do one for the AeroPress?

  • so glad you all made a video! I’ve seen many tutorials for this type of brewing but there are so many steps that it can get confusing. Also, I love that you all are bringing in local and distant craftsmen onto the blog, allowing for a diverse amount of content!

    Love where this blog is heading ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I’ve never even heard of a Chemex! Thanks for the tutorial and the intro, though, can’t wait to check it out.

    PS: Love the music for the video!

  • I worked as a barista all through college, but we never used Chemex, only French Press, so that’s what I’m familiar with. Thanks for sharing all the details about this — I have seen it growing in popularity but now I feel a little more educated!

  • We have the wooden Chemex 6 cup and use it with a stainless steel Coava Kone filter and it has been amazing for the last 4 years.

  • great tutorial Kingdom coffee! As a fellow barista, i’m curious: What’s the total brew time with these parameters?

  • I LOVE my Chemex! I got it for xmas last year and my mom kept complaining “I don’t get it, how do you keep the coffee warm enough to last all morning?” Um. Mom. You don’t! Argh!

  • The Chemex coffee makers are amazing. I always hated having the sediment of the coffee in my cup when making it with a french press coffee maker. But with the Chemex, this doesn’t happen anymore. The filter is designed to prevent bitterness and to avoid any sediment to drip into the coffee; simultaneously used with the non-porous glass, the beverage comes out clear, pure and flavorful. I simply love my new Chemex!

    Kind regards from another Chemex lover ๐Ÿ™‚