The best cup of coffee? To us, it’s pour over coffee made in a Chemex. Here’s how to use a Chemex to make pour over coffee.
Our mornings start exactly the same over here, whether it’s weekend or weekday, rain or shine, winter or summer. They start with a pot of coffee made in our Chemex, that odd-looking glass pour over coffee pot. And it makes absolutely perfect coffee. Alex and I have had coffee every morning for our entire marriage, but it wasn’t until 6 years ago that we started making Chemex coffee. And it took our coffee game to a new level. We think, in fact, that the Chemex makes the perfect cup of pour over coffee. So, here are all our secrets! Keep reading on how to use a Chemex and a video to show you exactly how to do it.
Video: How to use a Chemex
A lot of learning how to use a Chemex is just watching other people do it! It’s also having the right gear. Before you start, watch this video of me showing you to how to make Chemex pour over coffee in our kitchen.
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What you need to make Chemex coffee
Before you learn how to use a Chemex, you’ll need a few pieces of coffee gear. Here’s what you need, and links to what we use ourselves and show in the video. It might seem like a lot of gear, but homemade Chemex coffee ends up being cheaper than a coffee shop in the long run! Also, you can use your kettle and food scale for things other than coffee (like boiling water and making bread!).
- Chemex 8 cup coffeemaker: Here’s the Chemex we use: it can make up to 4 cups of coffee at once.
- Chemex coffee filters: The Chemex uses special filters; we order ours here.
- Bodum electric burr grinder: A burr grinder makes the most consistent grind of coffee. We’ve used this grinder for years and love it. For a more affordable option, this handheld coffee mill does the trick — it just takes much longer!
- Electric gooseneck kettle: This kettle is perfect for heating water for coffee and tea; we’ve used ours for 6 years and it’s held up great. Or, try this more affordable pour over coffee kettle.
- Digital food scale: This is the food scale we use. We love it and use it for many things outside of coffee too, like weighing ingredients for our Sourdough Bread or Dutch Oven Bread!
Goosenecks, scales, and burr grinders, oh my!
The special equipment required for making a perfect cup of coffee in the Chemex can be overwhelming at first! When we first starting using a Chemex, we made coffee with our normal teapot and a standard cheap coffee grinder with blades. What we found was that on some days the coffee was perfect, but on other days it ended up tasting a little off.
Why use a gooseneck kettle? Switching to a gooseneck kettle provided a huge advantage: you can slowly pour the water onto the coffee beans, allowing it to extract maximum flavor. (Plus, it looks cool!). And why use a burr grinder? Grinding the beans with a burr grinder is probably the best thing you can do for a great, consistent cup of coffee. You get the exact same coffee grind every day and can really hone your technique for a brilliant cup!
How to use a Chemex
Using a Chemex takes a little practice, but once you learn it will become second nature! The extra 10 minutes that are needed to make Chemex pour over coffee are absolutely worth it. Here are a few things to know about how to use a Chemex — then reference the recipe below for the official recipe. The major steps are:
- Heat filtered water to 200 to 205 degrees. We’ve found that the flavor of filtered water is best (here’s the filtered pitcher we use!). We use an electric kettle to heat the water.
- Weigh out and grind your coffee. You’ll need a food scale to weigh out the amount of coffee. For 2 cups of coffee, we’ve found the perfect amount is 34 grams of coffee. Grind it out to a medium coarse grind. For Chemex coffee, we like a light roast or medium roast coffee, since the flavors really shine in this method.
- Add the filter and coffee, and let it bloom. Next you’ll let the coffee bloom for 1 minute by wetting all the grounds and letting it sit. The bloom releases CO2 from the coffee and causes the grinds to grow & rise.
- Add the rest of the water. Then add the rest of the water to make your coffee! Our magic ratio is for every 1 gram of coffee, use 15 to 16 grams of water. This means that for 34 grams of coffee, we use 520 grams of water. See more on the Chemex Ratio: Coffee Beans to Water.
And that’s how to use a Chemex! It might sound like a lot of steps, but once you’ve practiced a few times, it will feel like second nature. When we first started making Chemex coffee, Alex always made the coffee. I was intimidated to learn, but after he showed me a few times, I can now do it while barely awake! It is 100% worth the few extra minutes to make Chemex coffee, because it is truly our perfect cup of coffee. Have questions or comments? Let us know in the comments below!
Can you make iced coffee in a Chemex?
Yes! Head over to our Chemex Iced Coffee recipe for the instructions. The nice thing about making iced coffee in a Chemex is that it’s seriously quick: it takes only 10 minutes! You don’t have to chill overnight or for hours: you make it right when you’re craving it. Honestly, one fact makes us make this Chemex iced coffee all the time. The main idea is that you’ll make the hot coffee over ice, which instantly cools it. Go to the recipe for more!
Looking for more coffee methods?
Outside of how to use a Chemex, we’ve got a series on how to make coffee using all sorts of gadgets!
- How to use an Aeropress
- How to make cold brew coffee
- How to make iced coffee
- How to Make Coffee: 4 Ways
- Best pour over coffee maker
- Pumpkin Spice Iced Coffee
- Best gooseneck kettle
- All of our Coffee Methods & Resources!
The best cup of coffee? To us, it’s pour over coffee made in a Chemex. Here’s how to use a Chemex to make a perfect cup of coffee.
- 34 grams light or medium roast coffee beans*
- 520 grams filtered water (the flavor is best with filtered water)
- Heat a pot of filtered water to 200 to 205F. We use an electric kettle that shows us the exact temperature. You could also use a teapot on the stove — just heat to boiling, then let the water cool down for a few minutes.
- Use a food scale to weigh out 34 grams of coffee, then grind it to a medium coarse grind (about the size of kosher or sea salt). We use an electric burr grinder to get a consistent grind.
- When the water is heated, place the filter in your Chemex (see the video below for exact instructions). Pour in just a bit of water to wet the filter, then pour out the water into the sink. Place the ground coffee into the Chemex and shake it to level it out.
- Place the Chemex on the food scale and tare it so the scale reads 0. Slowly pour in 70 grams of water in a circular motion. Then stop and wait for 1 minute: this allows the coffee to bloom (you may have to tap your scale once so that it doesn’t time out!).
- Then slowly add the remaining water in two batches, pouring very slowly in concentric circles, pouring right onto the coffee and not touching the coffee filter. Fill to about 1/2 inch from the top (it will likely be around 400 grams water), wait for the water level to go down a bit, and then fill the remaining water up to 520 grams.
- After a few minutes, all of the water will filter through the coffee grounds into the pot below. Remove the filter and discard it (we compost ours). Enjoy!
*In our large Chemex, the most you can make at one time is 50 grams of coffee and 800 grams water, which makes about 3 to 4 cups of coffee. To scale up or down, just use our magic ratio: 15-16 grams water to 1 gram of coffee.
- Category: Drink
- Method: Pour Over
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: How to use a chemex, Chemex coffee, Chemex pour over, How to make pour over coffee
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.