Why I Switched To A Chemex (And How To Brew An Amazing Cup of Coffee)

Heather Dessinger

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Coffee is my husband’s love language. He’s an early riser, so almost every morning he greets me with a freshly made cup.

It’s a tradition he started back when I was sleep deprived with our babies. He couldn’t always help me get more sleep, but he could get me coffee. 

I’m mostly function over form these days, which is why even I’m surprised that I’m writing a review of a coffee maker. I mean, it’s coffee, aka patience in a cup. Who really cares what it tastes like?

Turns out, I do.

Years ago, in my search for a BPA-free coffee maker, I turned to this French press. I liked that it was mostly made of heat resistant glass and stainless steel, with just a little bit of plastic that would touch the coffee as you poured it through the spout.

Then my husband brought home a Chemex for our writing nook and my first cup was amazing. I honestly didn’t know coffee could be so smooth, and wondered how brewing the same exact coffee beans differently could have such a noticeable affect.

Turns out, the Chemex filters out acidic and bitter compounds that most coffee makers don’t. It also filters out oils, which mean the the coffee can be brewed and stored in the fridge for later use – maybe for coffee ice cream or a frozen mocha – without the oils going rancid.

Cleanup is easier than any coffee maker I’ve ever used, and it’s beautiful, too. One is actually on display at the Museum of Modern Art!

Chemex coffee makers filter out acidic and bitter compounds that most coffee makers donโ€™t. Here's why it's now our primary coffee maker, and how to use it . . .

How To Brew Coffee With A Chemex

I tend to eyeball things rather than use exact measurements when brewing coffee, but in general you’ll want to use about 1-2 tablespoons medium/coarsely ground coffee per 5 ounces of water. Here’s how to brew a cup:

  1. Put some water on the stove to boil. Once it boils remove it from heat and allow it to cool a bit. According to brewmasters, the best temperature to brew coffee at is about 200F.
  2. Place a Chemex coffee filter over the carafe, making sure the thicker side of the filter (which is three layers) is covering the spout area. Some people rinse their filters with hot water before using – I don’t. ๐Ÿ™‚
  3. Pour your coarsely ground coffee in.
  4. Pour just enough water over the grounds to saturate them and wait for thirty seconds, then pour the remaining water over the grounds.
  5. Once the water has made it’s way through the filter, place the filter in your compost or garden (if you have one) and enjoy!

Where To Buy A Chemex Coffee Maker

I have this 8 cup Chemex, but there is a 6 cup option as well. Don’t forget to get some coffee filters, too! (Update: A reader just told me that the CoffeeSock reusable coffee filter is compatible with Chemex coffee makers. I just ordered one!)

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding Mommypotamus.com in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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28 thoughts on “Why I Switched To A Chemex (And How To Brew An Amazing Cup of Coffee)”

    • The biggest difference is the filter. The Chemex uses a very thick paper that filters out oils and makes a very clean and clear cup. Common pour over brewers use a thinner paper that doesn’t filter out as much. It’s worth a shot checking one out!

  1. Have you tried the reusable filter? I would be interested to hear what you think about it compared to the disposable ones. Thanks!

    • I haven’t tried it. My understanding is that it doesn’t filter out the acidity and bitterness like the paper ones, and since I (or more accurately, my digestion) do better with the less acidic version we’ve stuck with the paper filters. We do compost them, though ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Acidity and bitterness have nothing to do with the filter, unless you’re using the unbleached ones — but even then, the taste they impart is from the filter fibers, not the coffee. Acidity and bitterness are either a) inherent qualities of the coffee and/or the way it’s roasted or b) results of the brewing process. If the water is too hot and burns the coffee, the brew can taste bitter. Hard water can affect the taste. If the coffee’s stale (2-4 weeks past the roast date, depending on your palate), it can taste bitter; preground coffee will stale faster. Darkly roasted coffee can taste bitter/charred, but also usually less acidic. Coffee grown at high elevations tends to be more acidic inherently, but coffee also become more acidic in taste as it cools down. Lastly, there are different ways acidity can taste: the lemonyness of a Kenyan coffee, for example, versus the acetic acid flavor of cooling coffee or the puckery acidity of under-roasted coffee.

        One of the problems in discussing these issues is the terms we use, which don’t mean the same thing for everyone, and the fact that we have different preferences (I like high acid coffee, for example). A good reference guide to the intricacies of both the chemistry and the tasting science is Shawn Steiman’s The Little Coffee Know-It-All. It also contains full citations for the peer-reviewed sources used (Steiman has a PhD in coffee horticulture and agronomy). https://www.amazon.com/Little-Coffee-Know-All-uncompromising/dp/1631590537/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=mommypotamus-20&linkId=a882271ac9ec901f4fd41356e8dbf8df&language=en_US

        By all of this pedantry, I don’t mean to undermine anyone’s enjoyment of exploring the complexity of coffee and new ways to experience it — I think it’s great that the Chemex is being rediscovered and appreciated. There’s a lot to be said for the power of trends, too, and I just hope to add a little more evidenced-based information to the discussion, considering how important coffee is to so many people. It’s always useful to ask what we mean by ‘the best’, especially when we could say ‘my favorite’ instead.

        • Hi Julia, according to what I’ve read, Chemex filters are unique because they’re thicker than most and absorb some of the oils usually passed into the coffee, which does seem to affect the flavor. Regarding acidity, I can only speak from my experience that it does make a difference.

    • Reusable filters for the Chemex like the Able Kone produce a very different cup than traditional Chemex filters. It doesn’t filter out super fine coffee sediments and oils. This makes a fuller bodied cup of coffee similar to a French press, but without the grittiness.

  2. We’ve been using the Chemex for years! My parents got us hooked! They’ve been coffee snobs for decades and have had a Chemex for as long as I can remember ๐Ÿ™‚ <3

  3. I love my Chemex and the coffee it makes. It’s so easy to make a good cup of coffee. I like to rinse my filters to get the paper taste rinsed out.

  4. My hubby received a Chemex for Father’s Day this year and we have enjoyed every cup of coffee we have brewed! It has a full bodied flavor which we love! It is more attractive on the counter than a coffee maker.

  5. Yes! I absolutely love my chemex. It was actually a Christmas gift for my husband. I wasn’t aware that coffee makers contained BPA… we were just looking to make a better cup of joe! ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. I also love pour over coffee. We have a stainless steel pour over (4 cups) which does not need any kind of filter, perfect for zero waste, the steel mesh is dense enough to filter ground coffee. We put it on top of a stainless steel thermos to keep the dripped coffee warm until it is filtered.

    • I would like to know an updated answer to the coffee sock filter question, too! Is it as good as the unbleached paper filters or is there a difference? Thanks!

  7. just wondering: have you looked into how coffee messes with biology? and have you shared that: I have read research and experience so many body systems effected, glands, pancreas, adrenals, rough on the arteries and heart, cortisol pumped thru, messes with sugar levels, one of the contributors leading to diabetes….messes with digestion and more…I have come to learn to love it a few times a year at some amazing local independent restaurant brunch…ah or a dinner after …so lovely .

    • I have experienced the negative side effects of caffeine and all the toxic compounds that are in coffee. Not feeling like myself and comfortable in my own body when I drink one cup a day. It is the root cause of my anxiety. When I try to stop drinking it for a day I still experience the same negative scary withdrawals. I have been trying to quit for a few years now but its the hardest drug to overcome…love the taste, hate the side effects and withdrawals. My solution is the Chemex. Its a pleasant ritual where I buy my own high quality organic coffee and make just a small amount to sip and enjoy! I Believe the Chemex filters more of the toxins in coffee allowing me to enjoy a smooth small amount.

  8. I got the Chemex but have never figured out the correct measurements. I watched some videos on this, but everything was in grams. I have the 8 cup Chemex, and I am guessing as best as I can, that it would be about 800 grams of water to about 60 grams of ground coffee, but I have no idea how accurate that measurement is. All the videos I watched on this used a smaller size pot. Also, they were extremely precise on the measurements.