Name: Classic
Brand: Chemex
Type: Drip
Operation: Manual
Capacity: 6 cups

Chemex 1-3 Cup Wood Neck Coffee Maker
Chemex 1-3 Cup Wood Neck Coffee Maker
The Package Height of the Product is 20.5 centimeters; The Package Length of the Product is 7.5 centimeters

The Chemex is one of those coffee machines with its own style, whose method of coffee extraction presents some particularities that differentiate it from the rest. In the case of the Chemex, we can say that it is a filter coffee machine (or drip) since it uses its own filters (Chemex filters) to separate the coffee from the grounds, through which the water passes slowly to end up falling, by the effect of gravity, into a lower container. For this reason, we have decided to include it in our category of drip coffee machines.

The Chemex coffee machine has a totally peculiar and unmistakable appearance. It was patented in 1941 (it has already rained, right?) by the German chemist Peter Schlumbohm (hence its name) and is currently owned by the Chemex Corporation, based in the United States of America. The German was inspired by two elements he had in his laboratory: a glass funnel and a chemistry flask.

The Chemex is commercialized in different sizes (the standard measures are for three, six, eight or ten cups), and as we have already said, the Filters for Chemex are also sold separately.

There are universal filters that adapt well to a Chemex of any size, but if you don’t find them, you will have to pay attention and acquire a filter of the exact measure of your coffee machine. Here you can see some examples:

Chemex FP-2 Filter Papers, Pack of 100
Chemex FP-2 Filter Papers, Pack of 100
Designed only for Chemex CM-1; 100 Chemex Bonded coffee filters; Half-Moon circle shape; Absorbent special fibers for quality
Chemex Coffee Maker Filter Papers, Pack of 100
Chemex Coffee Maker Filter Papers, Pack of 100
100 Chemex Bonded coffee filters, bleached; Prefolded into conical shape for maximum flavor extraction
Chemex 1-3 Cup Wood Neck Coffee Maker
Chemex 1-3 Cup Wood Neck Coffee Maker
The Package Height of the Product is 20.5 centimeters; The Package Length of the Product is 7.5 centimeters

How the Chemex coffee machine works

As we see in the photos, the Chemex is built-in glass, and as we have already said, it is shaped like one of the typical flasks used in chemistry (the concept of chemical science is very present in everything that surrounds this coffee machine).

We can divide the coffee machine into two parts, the lower one (where the filter is placed) and the upper one (where the coffee will fall), separated by a much narrower diameter waist. On the outside, you will see the typical wooden ring, with its string, which characterises Chemex coffee machines and which, apart from being a decoration, serves to be able to hold the coffee machine over there without burning our hands.

As you can see, Chemex does not include any type of technology or electricity. The hot water necessary to make any coffee must be heated separately. Once heated, the water is poured over the upper container, where we will have previously placed the filter with the ground coffee. It works in a similar way to a drip cone. Later on, we will explain this process more precisely and stop at each step.

chemex 2

The secret of the Chemex: Its filters

One of the main differences between the Chemex and a conventional filter coffee machine, apart from the fact that the latter works with electric current, is in the filters. The Chemex does not use standard paper filters, but its own very thick paper filters, 20% heavier than the usual ones. These special filters for Chemex are much more precise – they hardly let any sediment pass, not even the finest ones – and also prevent the transmission to the coffee of the fat that gives the characteristic bitterness to the final drink.

For this reason, coffee made with a Chemex has a very pure, clean and spotless taste. It is the most faithful method of elaboration that exists to prepare a coffee at home. In the hotel and catering industry, it is mostly used for speciality coffees, so that’s all there is to it.

In fact, it is the filters and not the container that really gives credit for Chemex’s performance. Using these filters in any other glass container that had a conical shape, we would obtain a similar result.

By the way, Chemex filters are usually square. How do we place them on an inverted cone? Well, the correct way to place the Chemex filters is by folding them in four parts and joining 3 of those peaks facing the same side. You will understand it much better if you watch the following video:

What do we need to make coffee with the Chemex?

To use a Chemex and get good results, we need more things than the coffee maker. Fundamental: a good quality raw material and a powerful grinder that allows us to obtain just the degree of grinding we want. The Chemex works best with medium and uniformly ground coffee. So run away from pre-ground coffee packages, and make sure you grind it yourself at home. Here are some ideas to buy a coffee grinder if you don’t have one yet.

As for the coffee, the best results are obtained with soft coffees of medium roast, which do not usually have much body, but a medium-high acidity.

You should also make sure you buy the right Chemex filters for the size of your coffee machine. No bigger, no smaller. It is important, although not mandatory, to use mineral water -or at least filtered water- to avoid that any taste or component of the tap water that can spoil a coffee of such purity as the one your Chemex prepares.

How to make coffee with the Chemex coffee machine?

Once the coffee machine has been presented and its basic concepts explained, we will tackle the crux of the matter: the preparation of the coffee. Making coffee with Chemex is a simple process, but it consists of several steps that must be respected. We will summarize them below:

  1. We place our Chemex filter over the upper cone of the coffee maker.
  2. Moisten the filter with hot water. This is to fix it better to the walls of the coffee machine, and also to clean it a little. If any dust or particles remain on the filter, they will be washed away with the water before the coffee is prepared. Then, we remove the filter, empty the water (which will have been deposited in the lower cone of the Chemex) and put the filter back, already clean, as in the first point. If you are skilled, you can empty the water without removing the filter 
  3. Add the ground coffee, about one spoonful of coffee for each cup you want to make. Make sure it is well seated on the filter, distributed evenly over the entire surface. To achieve this, it is best to tap the coffee maker a little.
  4. Once the coffee is on the filter, it is time to pour in the hot water. We are only going to infuse the coffee, so we let it rest like this for 30-60 seconds (this will please the consumer… the longer we infuse it the more intense the aroma and taste will be, but we run the risk of making it bitter if we go too far). In this step, the filter still does not drip, or only very little.
  5. The ground coffee is now moistened and ready to receive all the water. Start adding the hot water slowly but steadily, and always in circles on the upper cone of the coffee machine. The recommended amount of water is 150 ml for each cup of coffee you want to make. It is important to do it slowly, so as not to create turbulence or bubbles or to shake the coffee when it is being filtered. It is very practical to use a kettle for this, or any other instrument that allows us to serve water with a fine thread.
  6. When you have poured all the water in (remember: 150 ml for each cup you are going to prepare), you will probably have to wait a few seconds for the coffee to finish falling through the filter. Take a breath, and enjoy the process. Sharpen your senses.
  7. Is there no more water in the filter? Well, that’s it: remove the filter and shake the coffee maker a little (lightly… don’t overdo it). Your coffee is now ready to be tasted. If you are not used to it, we assure you that you will be surprised by its taste. You will never have tasted anything of this purity and so clean at the same time.

One last piece of advice: coffee made with Chemex should be served in good quality porcelain or ceramic cups. The reason is that these containers retain the temperature much better and preserve the purity and cleanliness in the flavour that we are going to obtain.

Chemex vacuum coffee machine: Main characteristics

  • Vessel made of non-porous borosilicate glass. It does not absorb external odours or chemical residues of any kind.
  • Available in various sizes (3 cups, 6 cups, 8 cups, 10 cups) and also in two different versions: with or without wooden ring.
  • The wooden collar is polished and comes with an elegant leather bow.
  • It is used with Chemex Filters that must be purchased separately.
  • Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 23 cm (in the Chemex with capacity for 8 cups).
  • Weighs around 900 grams.

Advantages of the Chemex

  • Apart from the coffee-making process, the design of the Chemex is really attractive and distinguished.
  • The flavour that is obtained with a Chemex is unequalled, pure and clean to the maximum. It cannot be compared to any other type of coffee maker.
  • It can be cleaned very quickly and easily: only with abundant hot water. It is not necessary, and in fact, it is not recommended, to use detergents or scourers or anything that can alter the properties of the container.
  • It takes up little space and has a very affordable price if we compare it with an electric coffee maker.

Disadvantages of a Chemex

  • Apart from the coffee machine, to get good results you need some practice, and to have the right tools and materials (good quality coffee and a good grinder, for example).
  • This is not the right machine for those who prefer or consume espresso.
  • The brewing process takes time and has to be executed with care, tasting the details. It is not very practical to prepare your morning coffee in a hurry.

Chemex filter coffee machine: Videos

In this first video, you can see all the complete variety of Chemex coffee machines that exist in the market:

And here is a summary – in quick time – of the complete process of elaboration:

Finally, a more than interesting comparison between three similar but not equal coffee processing methods: The Chemex coffee maker, the Aeropress, and the French press or piston coffee makers. All of the widely studied and analyzed on our web:

Why buy a Chemex coffee machine?

The Chemex is a coffee machine with its own elaboration method. It is designed for those users who want to obtain a clean coffee with a pure taste, without disguises or coatings, 100% coffee. Also, those who like to elaborate their coffees in a traditional way, controlling all the steps, measuring the times, will enjoy this coffee maker very much. It is clear that the Chemex is a coffee maker especially suitable for certain occasions (and not too practical in others, forget about hurrying when you are going to use it).

As alternatives, we cannot recommend any similar coffee machine because there is no one that makes the same coffee. Perhaps the most similar is the French presses – although they make the coffee 100% by infusion, and at Chemex, the infusion is only part of the process. The Bodum Pebo, although it looks similar, does not make the coffee in the same way. You can see about this type of machine in our guide on manual coffee machines.

In short, the Chemex is a coffee machine with its own unique style that can make any consumer enjoy it, but that also requires the user to do his or her part.

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