How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex
In high school, I’d swing by Dunkin Donuts early in the morning to get a medium hazelnut coffee with milk. Just saying my old coffee order brings back memories. Even at seventeen, I loved the routine comfort of a hot, caffeinated drink in the morning. Fast forward about fifteen years and three kids later, and I still think there’s nothing like a good cup of coffee when you wake up. But I’ve learned a bit about this drink in the last decade and a half—like what makes a really good cup.
A few years ago, my brother started his coffee roasting business, FreshGround Roasting, and has taught me the wise ways of good beans and good brewing. Let’s just all admit one thing right from the start. The craft coffee culture can be a bit snobby—just like some wine aficionados, craft beer brewers, and any other artisan-type industry. I’m guilty of this in many ways, and that’s unfortunate. Coffee, and food and drinks in general, should be a catalyst to bring us together, right? Alienating each other because of what we eat and drink goes against so much of the beauty of our eating and drinking.
FreshGround Roasting is all about teaching and welcoming people into the coffee world rather than ostracizing them from it. And this post isn’t about touting the way to brew coffee (although if you’re going to master one brew method, I suggest mastering the Chemex). As I’ve learned how to brew better coffee, just like I’m learning to cook better, my old tastes don’t appeal as much anymore. There’s something about taking a little extra care with good quality beans that makes it more than just a vehicle for caffeine or a mindless habit. It’s a gift to savor and enjoy—like a good wine or a perfectly cooked steak.
So if you’re interested in upping your coffee game, try brewing with a Chemex. If it’s new to you and maybe a little intimidating, don’t let that deter you. Honestly, it’s just pouring water over grounds in a cool looking vessel. Each step of the brewing process and the design of the Chemex and filters makes a difference in the end result, but it’s surprisingly simple to do.
How to Brew Coffee with a Chemex
What you’ll need
Whole bean coffee (in this post, I used FreshGround’s Ethiopian Harrar)
Kettle (we like a gooseneck kettle because it gives you more control as you pour)
Weigh out the beans. In a 6-cup brewer we use 48 grams of beans. For the 8-cup use 64 grams, and for the 10-cup use 76 grams (yeah, use slightly less as you make more).
If you have unfolded filters, fold them in quarters. Open it up and put the filter in the Chemex brewer. Make sure the side that has 3 layers of filter paper is against the spout portion of the brewer.
Heat water in a kettle to boiling. Pour a little water in the Chemex brewer to rinse away any of the paper taste from the filter. Empty the water out of the brewer. Don’t remove the paper filter at this point; it’s very difficult to get it back in if you do.
Grind your beans to a medium consistency, similar to what you would do for drip coffee. On my Baratza Encore grinder, I set it to about 19 or 20. Add the ground beans to the brewer.
Put the Chemex brewer on your kitchen scale and tare to zero. Pour about 50 grams of water over the beans making sure they get completely wet. Let the beans “bloom” for about 30-45 seconds. Don’t skip this step!
Slowly pour water over the grounds until the scale reads 710 grams (945 for the 8 cup, 1180 for the 10 cup).
Let it sit until it stops dripping into the bottom part of the brewer. Timing is the key here. It should take about 4 minutes for you to brew 710 grams of water. If it takes longer, your grind is too fine. If it takes less time, your grind is too coarse.
Remove the filter, pour, and enjoy!
Special thank you to Taylor Rae Photography for taking all the photos in this post. Also thanks to FreshGround Roasting for providing the brewing instructions! This post was not sponsored by FreshGround. I just really like their coffee and their mission—and I also happen to be related to the owners. :)