A Beginner’s Guide to Using a Chemex Coffee Maker

Chemex seems to be the only thing coffee lovers talk about these days, and with good reason. The Chemex coffee maker is famous for its ability to brew one of the best cups of coffee you will ever drink, some dares say, even better than French Press.

If you have just acquired one or are considering it, this beginner’s guide will have you serving rich, delicious coffee in no time at all.

What Is a Chemex?

Chemex is the brand name of an hourglass-shaped glass pitcher used to brew coffee through the pour-over method.

It was first produced in Chicopee, Massachusetts, in 1941 and one of its best features is the control it gives you over the temperature, speed, flow, and taste of your brews.

Besides this, it also uses thicker filters, and the grinder for Chemex is more suited to medium-sized coffee grinds.

The coffee made by the Chemex coffee maker has an excellent distinct taste that you won’t find anywhere else. Users have described the brewing process as a mix of art and science.

How Does It Work?

As any pour-over coffee maker, Chemex allows your brew to move down the paper filter through gravity into the lower chamber. You begin by placing a filter on the neck of the upper chamber and adding the coffee, which you must bloom and then let settle while feeding water into the chamber.

Tip: It is crucial that you wet the filter with water, so it loses its papery taste and sticks to the chamber.

The general brew time for this coffee maker is at least 4 minutes, which is more than the drip filter but less than the French Press. The result is a rich, flavorful brew that is unique to Chemex.

What Equipment Will You Need?

As mentioned earlier, brewing coffee through Chemex is both an art and science.

You can be as creative as you like, but you also have to be very particular about the measurements, time, temperature, and process.

Here is all the equipment you must have to brew 2 cups of coffee with a Chemex coffee maker:

  • Chemex coffee maker (the volume will depend on the amount of coffee you brew).
  • Thick paper filters
  • A kitchen scale for measuring the brew and ground coffee
  • A timer
  • Whole or pre-ground coffee beans
  • Coffee grinder (when using whole beans)
  • A gooseneck electric kettle
  • Hot water, preferably at 93°C (199°F) to 96°C (205°F)

Brewing Coffee with A Chemex

Brewing coffee Chemex can seem complicated at first, and you will likely need a few tries to get the hang of the process. Nonetheless, the effort will be worth it.

Once you have all your equipment (including your coffee mugs), follow this step-by-step guide to brewing your coffee:

  • Step 1: Decide on the amount of coffee you will use, depending on how many mugs of coffee you are brewing. Start with at least 4 scoops and add or reduce as necessary.
  • Step 2: Use your grinder to grind your coffee beans to a medium-size consistency.
  • Step 3: Bring your water to a boil in your electric kettle (use the measurements provided in the section above).
  • Step 4: Fold the Chemex filter and place it on the upper chamber, so the three-layer side is pointing toward the spout. Rinse the filter with a little water to remove the paper taste, warm the walls, and make it stick to the chamber.
  • Step 5: Pour out the water you used in step 4 to rinse the filter. If you used some of the water you boiled, add it to the kettle, so you don’t mess up your measurements.
  • Step 6: If you have added water to the kettle, bring it to a boil again.
  • Step 7: Pour your coffee grounds onto the upper chamber through the Chemex filter paper.
  • Step 8: Pour some hot water into the chamber and saturate the coffee grounds. Allow the grounds to bloom for at least 30 seconds.
  • Step 9: After the grounds have bloomed and expanded, continue pouring the hot water into the chamber until the top is almost full.
  • Step 10: Allow the water to drain and continue pouring until you run out of water (from the electric kettle).
  • Step 11: Check that the lower chamber is full (this will take at least 4 minutes) and remove the ground0filled filter.
  • Step 12: Pour the brew into a mug and enjoy.

What Coffee Grind Size Should You Use for Chemex?

Grind size is very crucial to the final result when brewing coffee with Chemex.

The best size for the perfect brew is medium-size grind or medium-coarse for thicker than ordinary filters. If the grinder is larger than this, your coffee has less contact with the water, and the result will be sour and weak.

A too-small grind size means the water and coffee will have too much contact, and the result will be bitter.

Tip: Medium-size grind is about the size and consistency of granulated sugar.

Apart from the results, using the wrong grind size will also affect the coffee brewing time.

If you use too-large grinds, the coffee will be ready in less than minutes and vice-versa. All in all, the result will not be as good as what you’ll get with medium-size grinds.

Chemex Filters

Chemex filters are at least 25 percent thicker than normal paper filters. The thickness, coupled with the fact that they are made of bonded paper, ensures that all residue is filtered from your brew.

All you are left with is a clean, strong brew with a just-right body.

Besides the difference in thickness, Chemex coffee filters are conical with squared or rounded edges and are available in local stores. You will notice that the packs have the name Chemex printed on them, so be sure to look out for this when shopping.


Chemex coffee is among the best coffee you will ever taste, and what’s better, it’s not very hard to brew.

Yes, the process might seem too complicated at first, but within a couple of tries, you will be making coffee that all your loved ones can’t wait to try.

Remember to let the coffee brew for 4 minutes and to use medium-sized grounds.

Julie Higgins
Julie is a Staff Writer at momooze.com. She has been working in publishing houses before joining the editorial team at momooze. Julie's love and passion are topics around beauty, lifestyle, hair and nails.