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How to Use a Chemex to Make Tasty Coffee: Simple Steps & FAQ

Chemex pour over coffee maker review

You’ve bought an elegant Chemex and a box of special filters. Now it’s time to start brewing. But what is the best method, and how can you be sure that your coffee will come out perfectly?

Don’t worry: we’re here to help! We’ve put together this step-by-step guide to brewing with Chemex. You’ll be a Chemex expert in no time — and we promise you will enjoy the results. Keep reading to find our expert brewing tips and answers to all of your burning pour-over questions.

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How to Use a Chemex:


1. Grind your coffee beans.

Hario Skerton Pro review

Aim for a coffee to water ratio of 1:15, or 1 gram of coffee for every 15 grams of water. This means that for an 8-cup Chemex, you’ll want to grind 2.7 ounces (5.4 tablespoons) of coffee. Grind to a medium-coarse level.

2. Boil water.

Hario gooseneck kettle boiling
We used the Hario Smart G gooseneck kettle.

Bring water to a boil, using a gooseneck kettle if you have one. According to the National Coffee Association, the ideal brewing temperature is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. If your kettle doesn’t have a thermometer, bring the water to a boil and then let it sit for 20 seconds.

3. Rinse and place the filter.

Chemex with paper filter

To avoid a papery taste, you may want to rinse your filter before adding the grounds. Pour a little water over the filter and discard it. Then place the filter in the top of your Chemex — ensuring that that triple-layered side is over the spout.

4. Pour coffee grounds into the filter.

Chemex with ground coffee and filter

Add the coffee grounds into the filter, tapping the sides gently to make sure the bed is level.

5. Pour in a small amount of water.

Chemex coffee bloom

Using your gooseneck kettle, pour a small amount of water into the center of the grounds. Pour in small circles until the grounds are evenly wet. Then wait about 30 seconds for the coffee to bloom.

6. Slowly pour in the rest of the water.

Chemex coffee maker brewing

After your coffee blooms, you can start pouring in earnest. Pour in circles, making sure to spread the water evenly over the coffee. Don’t overdo it — you don’t need to rush through the brewing process — but you don’t need to drag it out, either. Aim for a total brewing time of about 3 minutes.

7. Discard the filter and enjoy your coffee!

how to use a Chemex coffee

Once you’ve brewed as much coffee as you’d like (the navel on your Chemex marks the halfway point), you can remove the filter and grounds. Through them away (or compost them) and enjoy your freshly brewed carafe.

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Chemex Brewing Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have to use Chemex-brand paper filters?

Yes and no. We can’t recommend using any other brand of paper filters — try putting a thinner filter in the top of your Chemex and you’ll see what we mean.

Set up Chemex to brew

But you can substitute an environmentally-friendly reusable metal filter. Make sure you buy one that will fit your Chemex, keeping in mind that smaller Chemex brewers have narrower tops. And if you opt-out of paper filters, your coffee won’t be quite as crystal clear — and may have a little silt at the bottom.

What’s the best coffee-to-water ratio for Chemex?

A good Chemex ratio to start with is 1:15, or one part coffee to 15 parts water. An 8-cup Chemex can make 40 ounces of coffee, so if you’re brewing a full pot, you’ll need 2.7 ounces of coffee (5.4 tablespoons or 76.5 grams).

how to make Chemex iced coffee

Try this ratio and taste the results. If it’s not strong enough, increase the amount of coffee. If it’s too strong, decrease the amount of coffee. Simple enough, right?

RELATED: Try our coffee to water ratio calculator!

How can you keep your Chemex coffee hot?

A classic Chemex brewer doesn’t have a burner like a drip machine, nor does it have thermal insulation, so it won’t keep your coffee hot for long. If you want to keep your coffee hot, you have three options: transfer it to a thermal carafe, purchase a Chemex lid (or substitute an appropriately-sized plate), or place the Chemex on your stovetop.

Chemex iced coffee pouring

If you want to use your stove, there are a few important things to keep in mind. You can place your Chemex directly on glass and gas stovetops. If you have an electric coil stove, you’ll need a diffuser (stainless steel wire grid) to keep your Chemex from breaking. And most importantly of all: never let your Chemex sit empty on the burner! If there isn’t any liquid left, the glass may shatter.

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Final Thoughts

There you have it: a foolproof method for brewing the perfect cup of Chemex coffee. This glass pour-over is elegantly designed and straightforward to use — as long as you understand the basics. Once you master the technique, you’ll enjoy clear, flavorful cups of coffee, totally free of silt, oils, and bitterness! Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?



Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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