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Brewing Magic at Home Part VI: The Chemex- For the Semi-Evil Scientist

Awright everybody, it’s been a minute but it’s time you knew: The Chemex coffee brewer is a classic way to make drip coffee.

It looks like an Erlenmeyer Flask out of a chemistry lab, with a dash of cowboy around the neck. There’s something awesome about a coffee brewer made of glass, wood and leather. Fortunately it also makes exceptional coffee. Featured in this post is the ineffable Jared Sweeney, enthusiastic Chemex enthusiast. He was so very kind and brought his Chemex to the roastery and demonstrated its use and care for the Zeke’s Crew.

The major functional difference between the Chemex and other drip coffee makers is the filter. Chemex provides a variety of proprietary filters that employ some fun origami techniques to make the magic happen. Filters can be circles, squares or the ever-mysterious half-moon. For the unadventurous or those missing lots of fingers, the filters are also available pre-folded.

These filters are thick and multi-layered. The resulting brew is smooth and without a hint of bitterness. There will be no sediment or oil slick on the top of your coffee, either. That’s a plus for those who want a very clean taste in the cup, and a detriment for those who like an oily, sludgy cup ala French Pressed coffee.

The brew cycle is nearly indistinguishable from other drip coffee methods: Add and wet filter, add coffee grounds, add a small amount of hot water to get the grounds to bloom:

Stir the grounds to ensure even wetting of the stuff, and then pour the rest of your brew water SLOWLY through the bed of grounds. Unlike traditional cone filters, the Chemex sends all the brewed coffee through a single point at the business end of the filter.

NOTE: the finer your coffee is ground the longer this is going to take. While Chemex is not the quickest of brew methods, the results are absolutely worth waiting for.

For our test batch we used more coffee than was necessary, ground a bit finer than necessary. Other brew methods may have yielded an overextracted, bitter disaster. The Chemex gave us smooth and clean coffee, concentrated as it may have been. We kind of just stood around looking at each other saying, “Wow.” Well done, Mr. Sweeney.

The Chemex Brewer may be for you if:

  • You are a quasi-evil or merely mad scientist, or are considering the evil sciences
  • You enjoy drip-style coffee and want to go somewhere new
  • You like exceptionally clean-tasting coffee
  • You like to take your time making coffee and savor the process

Keep looking if:

  • You like oil or silt in your coffee
  • You like to press a button to initiate brewing coffee
  • You don’t have six or seven minutes to devote to making a cup or two.

That’s all for now; see you around. Thanks for reading!