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Brewing Guide 01: Chemex

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The Deets

What is it: The Chemex is one of the OG pour-over brewers. Developed by in the 1940s by an eccentric chemist named Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, the Chemex’s classic form has endured the test of time. It makes great coffee, can accommodate a group, and looks sexy on a kitchen counter.

When to use it: Best when you can grind coffee fresh with a burr grinder.

Where to buy it: You can buy directly from the Chemex website, or pick one up at a kitchen store like Sur la Table. Many cafés will also sell Chemexes and filters in their retail offerings.


Pour-overs allow you to make lots of fine adjustments to brew to your preference. The following directions are a good starting place to work from.

Water temp: 195–205° F, or water just off boil

Brew ratio (coffee:water): 1:16, or a rounded tablespoon for every 5 ounces of water

Brew time: 4–5 minutes

1. Prepare the filter

 Traditional Chemex filters are made of paper, which means you’ll want to give them a rinse before adding the coffee. Squeeze the edges of the filter so it makes a cone shape, then line up the three-layered side of the filter with the spout. Once the water is hot, thoroughly wet the filter, then discard the water. This gets rid of the papery taste (and preheats the glass).

2. Weigh & grind coffee

 Hit the “tare” button on your scale and add the desired amount of coffee ot the filter. If you’re brewing for two, start with 50g of coffee—this will result in about 24 ounces of brewed coffee. Grinds should be medium-sized, similar to crystals of Kosher salt.

3. Bloom that sucker

When brewing a pour-over style of coffee (like a Chemex), the first step is the “bloom.” This is the initial water you pour over the grounds to help release volatiles. How much should you pour? Multiple the weight of the coffee by two. For our 50g serving, this means the first pour will be 100g.

4. Add water in phases

After about 30 seconds, start to fill the cone with water again, using a spiral motion to help agitate (stir) the bed of grounds. Gradually add water to the final volume (about 640g), keeping the filter halfway filled throughout brewing.

5. Swish & serve

When the water begins to drip slowly, remove the filter (it will continue to drip, so place it in the sink to finish draining). Give the Chemex a swirl, and it’s ready to serve!


PRO TIP | When pouring the water into the bed of grounds, you’ll start to see areas that become light, and some that remain dark. As you continue to pour, aim for the dark spots—these are areas that haven’t been wetted as thoroughly as the rest of the grounds. Covering the dark spots will ensure more even flavors in your brew. 
PRO TIP | While the collar and strap are a nice visual touch, they also have a function. The button on the collar indicates that the carafe is full. A bump in the glass on the side of the carafe indicates the 50% fill mark (also referred to as the belly button).

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