Coffee can be many things. Your morning ritual, a reason to see a loved one or simply the stuff that gets you through the day. I for one think coffee is for sharing. Despite already living with my partner for almost a year, he still prefers it when I brew a fresh batch of filter coffee several times a day, always curious to find out which coffee I chose.
When you’re pressed for time or you simply don’t want to use quite so much coffee as you would for two full V60 brews, a Chemex is the ideal brewer for two perfect cups of coffee, provided you’re using the classic 5 cup version. There is also a smaller 3 cup version that I sometimes like to use when I’m brewing coffee for myself.
What I love about the Chemex is that it is a) a true design icon having been invented in 1941 and remaining largely unchanged since then. And b) it is an all in one brewer, meaning you don’t need a separate decanter for serving. That’s less washing up right there.
The Chemex is a conincal brewer that uses a paper filter. There are two main types of paper filters available for this brewer. I prefer using the pre-folded squares.
When it comes to the brewing process, the 5-cup Chemex is a bit easier to use as its funnel opening is significantly larger than the 3-cup version. I also find that often, the 3-cup version starts bubbling a lot more than the 5-cup version when you pour in a significant amount of water. I usually prefer to add all of my water in one go and the 3-cup version splutters sometimes, which I find a bit annoying.
It is important that you get the grind size right and that you use a very consistent grinder as lower quality grinders often leave you with very uneven grounds that then result in smaller particles sinking to the bottom of your filter and choking it. You absolutely want to avoid that from happening as this can easily turn your 4:30 minute brew time target into 6 or 7 minutes.
What can you expect in the cup?
The 5-cup version is a really easy brewer to work with and it generally produces a really delicious and balanced cup of coffee that highlights a lot of the more delicate flavours present in your coffee.
Prepare all the equipment that you’ll need to brew a delicious batch of coffee. I always use my Comandante Grinder, my Acaia scales, my home mixed water using the Barista Hustle recipe that you can find here as well as a pouring kettle and a little spatula. I like the Aeropress one because it’s quite flat. This is great for pushing down the grounds after you’ve added your water.
For this recipe, I am using 30g of coffee. I really like brewing natural or honey processed coffees with the Chemex as it really brings out the sweetness but feel free to to choose whichever coffee you like best. For this recipe, I used a natural processed Uganda from Zukuka Bora roasted by Newground Coffee.
Rinse your paper filter with some hot water and discard it. Then grind your coffee. I usually use 30-31 clicks on the Comandante grinder.
Load up your Chemex with your freshly ground coffee and give it a little tap to make sure the bed is even.
Start with a long bloom of 45 seconds with 120 grams of water. I like doing this to make sure all of the coffee is properly ‘activated’ and gets a chance to release some of the gases before you start brewing. Then, add all of your remaining 430g of water in one continuous pour using clockwise circular motions.
Keep a close eye on your timer to make sure your coffee drains within the 4:15 to 4:30 window. If your coffee drains too quickly it might be underextracted and taste weak. If it takes too long to drain, then your coffee might end up overextracted and taste bitter. In either case, either grind finer or coarser, respectively. Once the brewing is done, remove the filter and give your Chemex a good swirl.
The idea behind this is to make sure that all of your coffee is nicely combined before you serve it.
Serve and enjoy. Coffee is for sharing after all.
I hope you enjoyed this brew guide for the Chemex. Leave a comment down below to share your own recipe or to let me know what you think of this guide.
Special thank you to Kinto Europe for sponsoring some of the gear you see in this guide.
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