Thoughts on the Chemex

After giving in to the curiousity caused mostly by Tonx‘s postings on it, I bought a Chemex. Before it arrived it turned out Anette had bought me a bigger, better version. Which was a pleasant surprise.

It has become my standard way of making coffee at home if I am relaxing or working. Part of the slightly unscientific way in which I use it bugs me. I am never really quite consistent with my dose, and the period of time where you soak the grounds in a little water (the “bloom” as Chemex likes to call it) varies a little as well.

This afternoon's Chemex

I like the coffee I get out of it very much, and it is a very pretty vessel. It could just be the coffees I am using with it but I do tend to get cups with great mouthfeel, lovely sweetness but often not quite the nuance and character I know the coffees are capable of. Don’t get me wrong – I love the coffee it makes, yet I worry I am doing something wrong or am missing a trick somewhere. That or maybe that’s just the kind of coffee it makes.

Comments from fellow Chemex owners very welcome. What kind of dose/grind are you using?

5 Comments Thoughts on the Chemex

  1. Jacob

    I have been experimenting with the Chemex lately. I have the 10 cup model. I been getting decent results brewing 0.75l, but not been able to get any good results for a full 1.5l. Have been inching my way from 0.75 to 1l and plan to work my way to 1.5l. Slowly increasing the volume and playing with the grind to get the best results.

    I got my best result ever with 55 g for 1l (keeping things as standard as possible ;-) The grin is 20 above true zero on a Rocky – don’t know what that corresponds to. I let the water rest for 45 seconds after boiling with the lid off. Gives approx. 93-94 in the coffee when the filter has been filled up (after letting it bloom for 30-40 seconds).

    As I would expect it is very sensitive to the water temperature – or time I let the water rest after boiling. But I am amazed on how stable the brewing temperature is (measured with thermocouple) over the entire brew time. Stays at 93-94 for the first 4 minutes or so.

    I just pour woter in the middle, avoiding to wash the coffee grind off the sides. But then make sure that the filter is full of water all the time. I have found it much easier to get consistent results this way, as opposed to pouring water all over the top

    Once I get to 1.5l, which would be nice when having many guests, I will start experimenting with bloom time and other variables.

    I have been wondering if there is an optimal amount to brew on the Chemex, possibly for each coffee even. As you go up in volume the brewing takes longer and thus requires a different grind to avoid overextracting. In the french press you can use any combination of steep time and grind and I have found I get different characteristics depending on which combination I use. But in the Chemex the steep time, grind and volume are linked.

    Love the coffee from the Chemex obviously – otherwise I wouldn´t spend that much time perfecting it ;-)

  2. Sean

    Hey Jim,

    I’ve had similar findings, namely very bright, well balanced coffee from the Chemex, though with a faint suggestion that, somehow, notes that would come out of the Bodum are not present. Some folks say to rinse the filter paper with several cups of near boiling water prior to adding ground coffee – may help.

    For dose and grind, I fear I am much less methodical and standardized than you must be (I love the Square Mile videos). I use 1 level to slightly rounded 2 tbsp. scoop of beans per 8 ounces of water. 3 such ‘cups’ gets me to the top of the dot on the 6 cup glass-handled model (for which I would use three 2 tbsp. scoops of beans). My grind is between 17 and 19 on a recalibrated (for espresso) Baratza Virtuoso. Before the recalibration, I ground on 14, which is slightly finer than for automatic drip.

    I may be doing it all wrong, myself, but am enjoying life and home roasted coffee (except for espresso – I’d be a sucker for punishment if I tried roasting my own espresso blends, esp for the volume I go through!).


  3. Rowster

    I’m just like you, Jim. Find the Chemex a worthy adversary and hence valuable teacher. Of course, I know next to nothing so take my little blog experiment with a grain of salt.

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