A guide to creating the perfect cup of pour over coffee with a Chemex
The popularity of the pour over brew method has certainly waxed and waned since its inception in the early 1900s. However, as interest in specialty coffee grew in the last decade and a half, the pour over found its way into our favorite coffee shops' menus and then back into our kitchens. The origin is owed to Melitta Bentz whose invention of the paper coffee filter allowed for continued innovation. The Melitta family's cone-shaped pour over device and filter became extremely popular in 1930s homes and are still ubiquitous in the homes of coffee lovers.
For our pour over at home, we use the Chemex. This brew method is revered for its design so much that it remains in the permanent collections of museums like MOMA, the Smithsonian, the Corning Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum. The Chemex was designed in 1941 by the German chemist, Peter J. Schlumbohm, soon after the Melitta family designed their first cone-shaped device. The Chemex caught on quickly not only because of its simple design but because it had a leg up on other current pour over devices—the capacity to make multiple cups of coffee at the same time.
What you need
1:15 Coffee to Water Ratio
360 grams (13 ounces)
690 grams (24 ounces)
960 grams (34 ounces)
- Heat water to °205F (this brings out the flavor without the bitterness)
- Weigh or measure beans, for a 6-cup Chemex it is about 46 grams or 3 2/3 tablespoons (see chart above for other sizes)
- Place a filter in the top of the Chemex, making sure the 3-layered side is facing the spout (this allows air flow, which allows for the liquid to drip through the filter)
- Rinse the filter with ample hot water (removes paper dust and preheats the Chemex)
- Once thoroughly saturated, dispose of the rinse water through the spout
- Place your Chemex with rinsed filter on the scale
- Grind your pre-measured coffee to medium and add it to wet filter in Chemex
- Then tare the vessel with filter and coffee to zero
- Pour hot water to fully saturate the coffee grounds (allows coffee to "bloom", which really just means do a bit of soaking and degassing for best extraction)
After 30 seconds, add hot water in stages (around 100–200g at a time), pouring in circles from the center outwards to about a centimeter from the edge of the grounds until you reach the desired final brew weight (690g of water total)
- Pour slowly and gently so that your stream of water is falling down and not out as you want to leave the bed of coffee grounds intact—agitation is not your friend with the Chemex
- The grounds should always be submerged in water until the end
- This should take 4–5 minutes, if your brew went too quickly or too slowly try adjusting your grind a bit
- Once the drips in the Chemex slow to every couple of seconds, your brew is finished!