Intro to the Chemex

Intro to the Chemex

Those of you familiar with the wild world of coffee have likely heard of the Chemex, a glass, pourover coffeemaker hailed by third wave coffee enthusiasts around the globe. If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll notice the Chemex proudly featured photo-after-photo. Why, Michael, would you use the Chemex so often when there are countless other pourover tools on the market, you might ask? To understand our logic, we’ll need to briefly explain the two major categories of coffee extraction. Perhaps we’ll break these down further in a future post, but I don’t want to get to sidetracked from our post theme – the Chemex. The extraction categories are:

1. Infusion: this method of extraction involves the continuous flow of coffee through a bed of grounds and filter. This flow of water extracts the solubles from the coffee grounds, making that delicious cup of coffee. The most popular methods of infusion brewing include auto-drip machines (Mr. Coffee, Bunn, etc.), Hario V60, and the Kalita Wave.

2. Immersion: in this method of extraction, the coffee grounds are fully immersed in water. The submerged grounds usually remain so for some predetermined period of time before the resulting beverage is separated from the grounds and served. Popular methods of immersion brewing include the French Press, AeroPress, Clever, and many “long-soak” brewing methods.

The Chemex Coffeemaker is an infusion method, meaning the water passes through the coffee and filter, collecting in a receptacle at the bottom of the device. Check out the photo to the right, from our Instagram account. You’ll notice the filter and grounds at the top of the device, above the wooden collar. The water will pass through the grounds and filter and into the base of the device.

Kayla and I love the Chemex for a handful of reasons, but the most compelling has to be in its ease of day-to-day use. The Chemex’s filter is roughly 20-30% thicker than that of the Hario V60 or Kalita Wave, resulting in a slower brew pace, and a more forgiving brew process. When its 5 am and you’re trying to keep the gooseneck steady, this is huge.

The Chemex gives us the full-bodied taste that one might experience in a immersion brewing method (due to the thick filter and slow brew pace), but still yields a very clean and bright cup of coffee. A full immersion brewing method would likely leave some sediment in the cup, while the Chemex method gives us some of those flavors sans grit! Lastly, we like the Chemex because we always brew for a family (yes, it is just the two of us and no, we don’t share with the neighbors), and this tool is perfect for brewing large quantities.

Welp, I know the above might have been a bit dry, especially for those who are already familiar with the Chemex and its advantages. Not ones to leave our readers wanting more, we’ll drop a few extra fun facts about the Chemex!

1. The Chemex has been around a whole helluva lot longer than you might have imagined. Invented in 1941 by this dude (Dr. Peter Schlumbohm), a German chemist and inventor, the Chemex has remained largely unchanged since its inception. Why mess with perfection?!

2. The Chemex was officially added to the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection in 1944! With the beautiful, timeless simplicity of the design, its easy to see why.

3. Never heard of the Chemex? That may be true, but you’ve no doubt seen it – its been featured in pop culture pretty significantly over the past 50+ years. See if you can spot this little coffee-brewing gem in some of the below photos!



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