Think you need an expensive machine or a barista degree to make café-quality coffee at home? Think again. With the Chemex, all you need is a little know-how and the perfect Chemex recipe.
The Chemex coffee maker was invented in 1941 by German chemist Dr. Peter Schlumbohm. This simple, elegant pour over brewing method produces clean, well-balanced coffee without any bitterness. All you need is a Chemex, filter papers, ground coffee, and hot water.
Whether you’re using the 10-cup Chemex or the 3-cup model, this brew method is easy to master with the right recipe. In this brew guide, we’ll share our Chemex ratio and step-by-step instructions for brewing the perfect cup of coffee.
Let’s get started!
How to Brew Chemex Coffee: A Step-By-Step Pour Over Brew Guide
Brewing coffee with a Chemex is simple, but there are a few key steps you’ll want to follow for the best results.
Here’s our step-by-step guide:
- Grind coffee beans — If possible, always start with fresh-ground coffee. Because of the thicker Chemex filters, you’ll want to use a medium-coarse grind size; about the consistency of sea salt.
- Heat water — You want hot water but not boiling. Bring water to a temperature between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. This works best using a gooseneck kettle (either a stove-top or electric model works).
- Fold filter — First, fold your Chemex filter in half and then in half again. This will create a cone-like shape. Place the filter in the Chemex, making sure the three layers are facing out.
- Rinse filter and glass carafe — Pour hot water over the filter, wetting it completely. This will help remove any paper taste and also preheat your Chemex. Discard the water.
- Add coffee grounds — Now it’s time to add your coffee grounds. Slowly pour them into the filter, being careful not to overfill. Shake the Chemex slightly to achieve a level coffee bed.
- Bloom coffee — To bloom the coffee, pour hot water over the grounds until they are covered and let sit for 30-45 seconds.
- Start the second pour — After the bloom, begin your pour in a slow and steady circular motion, starting from the inside and working your way out. Once the water reached the top of the filter, pause and let the coffee filter through before starting the next pour.
- Additional pours — Continue pouring using the concentric circle method until you reach your desired brew volume. The entire process should take between three and four minutes.
What You’ll Need to Brew Chemex Coffee
Now that you know the Chemex brewing method, let’s go over what you’ll need to make a great cup of coffee.
In addition to a Chemex coffee maker, you’ll need:
- Coffee beans or ground coffee (8 grams of grounds for 5 oz of coffee) – Fresh coffee is essential. Single-origin beans from a local coffee roaster are my personal preference, but you don’t need any specialty coffee.
- Coffee grinder – Ideally, a good burr grinder is best. Either way, you need to achieve a medium-coarse grind size (think sea salt consistency.
- Kettle – Gooseneck kettles are ideal for pour-over coffee. Electric kettles make it simple and quick to heat water and keep it at your precise temperature.
- Filtered water (120 grams for 5 oz coffee) — Enough water to make coffee using about a 15:1 ratio plus a bit extra that you’ll use as rinse water before you start brewing.
- Digital scale and timer – This isn’t required, but it will help you make consistent coffee each time.
Now let’s get to the Chemex recipe!
Our Chemex Ratio: The Perfect Coffee-to-Water Ratio for Pour Over
The coffee-to-water ratio you use will have a big impact on the taste of your final cup. If you use too much water, your coffee will be weak and watered down.
Too little water and your coffee will be overly strong and bitter.
We recommend using a Chemex ratio of 15:1.
This means you’ll use 15 grams of water for every 1 gram of coffee beans or grounds.
To put this into perspective:
- (1) 5-oz cup of coffee = 8 grams of coffee + 120 grams of water
- (4) 5-oz cup of coffee = 32 grams of coffee + 480 grams of water
This is a good starting point; you can always adjust the amount of coffee or water depending on your taste preferences.
If you prefer a bit of a stronger cup, you might try a bit less water. If you like your cup lighter and crisper, then consider adding a bit more water.
The recommended Chemex ratio is between 1:12 and 1:17, depending on taste.
Chemex Brewing Recipe: Time and Temperature
Now that we’ve gone over the coffee-to-water ratio, let’s talk about time and temperature.
The ideal water temperature for brewing Chemex coffee is between 195°F and 205°F. This can be achieved using an electric kettle or a stovetop kettle.
As for brew time, the entire process should take between 3 and 4 minutes.
This includes the bloom (30-45 seconds) and pour time (two to three minutes).
Here, again, is where you can adjust the brewing process to fit your very specific tastes and eventually dial in the perfect cup.
The brew time is controlled by the filter and the coffee grounds (grind size), which determines how long the coffee will extract before dripping down into the carafe. This means that the main variable you can control here is the temperature.
Some tips for adjusting the temperature to brew the perfect Chemex coffee:
- If your coffee is overly bitter, try brewing at a lower temperature.
- If your coffee is too weak or watery, try brewing at a higher temperature
Remember, it’s all about experimentation! There is no one perfect way to brew Chemex coffee. It’s all about finding what works best for you and your tastes.
Step #1: Grind the Coffee
As with any coffee brewing method, the quality of your brew starts with freshly ground coffee beans. For Chemex, we recommend using a medium-coarse grind size (think sea salt consistency). This will help ensure a balanced cup of coffee that is neither too weak nor too strong.
If you’re using pre-ground coffee, aim for a grind size that is slightly coarser grind than what you would use for drip coffee.
But, keep in mind that you don’t want a fully coarse grind like what you’d use in a French press.
Step #2: Heat Filtered Water
Next, it’s time to heat your water. We recommend using filtered water, as this will help reduce any unwanted flavors or impurities in your final cup. The ideal water temperature for Chemex coffee is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you don’t have a thermometer handy, simply bring your water to a boil and then let it sit for about 30 seconds before starting the brew.
Step #3: Place the Chemex filter
Now it’s time to get everything ready for brewing.
Start by folding your Chemex filter. Depending on whether you have the half-moon, square, or triangle filters the process will be slightly different.
With the original square bonded paper filters, you simply fold the filter in half and then fold it in half again — popping it open to form a cone-shaped filter. One side will have a single sheet (one fold) and one side should have 3 sheets (triple fold).
Place the filter in the brewer, making sure that the triple-fold side is facing down and aligned with the pour spout so it won’t clog Chemex.
Step #4: Rinse the Filter and Carafe
Once the filter is in place, it’s time to rinse it with hot water. This will help remove any paper taste from the filter and also help preheat your Chemex carafe.
To do this, simply pour hot water into the Chemex until it reaches just below the top of the brewer. Then, discard this water by pouring it out of the Chemex and into your sink.
Step #5: Add the Coffee Grounds
Now it’s time to add the coffee grounds to the filter. We recommend using a coffee scale for this step, as it will help ensure that you are using the correct amount of coffee.
Start by placing the Chemex with filter on the scale and pressing tare to zero out the scale.
Again, we recommend a ratio of 15:1. So, if you’re brewing with an 8-cup Chemex then you’d want to use 64 grams of coffee (8 grams per cup) to brew eight 5-oz cups of coffee.
Once you’ve added the coffee grounds, give them a light shake so they are evenly distributed in the filter.
You want to create a level coffee bed to ensure even extraction and brewing.
Once you’ve added your coffee grounds, press tare again before pouring your water.
Step #6: First Pour (Coffee Bloom)
Now it’s time to start brewing!
Start by pouring a small amount of hot water over the coffee grounds. We recommend using twice as much water as you have coffee (i.e. if you’re using 64 grams of coffee, then use 128 grams of water for this phase).
Pour slowly in a spiral pattern, starting from the center and working your way outwards.
You want to pour just enough water so that all of the coffee grounds are evenly saturated — but not so much that they start floating on top of the water. The “slurry” should be fully saturated and there shouldn’t be any visible dark spots on the grounds.
This initial pour is called the “coffee bloom.”
The bloom helps release any trapped gases (CO2) in the coffee grounds from the coffee roaster and the roasting process. It also allows them to fully expand for optimal extraction during brewing.
You should see bubbles start to form as the CO2 escapes from the beans.
Wait about 60 seconds for the grounds to fully bloom.
Step #7: Second Pour (Full Immersion)
After the bloom, it’s time for the full immersion pour.
This is the first full pour. Using the same circular motion as during the blooming process, you’ll want to pour in concentric circles until your water level reaches the top of the Chemex.
Once it reaches about a quarter-inch from the top, pause pouring.
This is a single pour. Wait for the coffee grounds to return back down to about their original level (but not all the way settled; about 30 seconds) before beginning the next pour.
Step #8: Additional Pours
You’ll want to repeat the same process for additional full immersion pours.
You may need to perform 3 – 4 pours in total to use up your remaining water.
As you’re pouring, you’ll want to keep an eye on the scale so you don’t go over your desired amount of coffee.
For example, if you’re brewing with an 8-cup Chemex then you’ll want to use a total of 960 grams of water (120 grams per cup).
If you’ve used the tare function before beginning the pour, then you should just pour until you hit 960 grams.
Step #9: Pour and Drink
Once you’ve reached your desired amount of water, remove the filter and coffee grounds.
Pour your coffee into your favorite mug or cup and enjoy!
Chemex Brewing Tips at a Glance
- Use a Chemex filter
- Preheat your Chemex and discard the hot water
- Use freshly ground coffee beans
- Use a 15:1 ratio of coffee to water
- Bloom your grounds with twice as much water as you have coffee
- Avoid pouring down the sides of the filter