Chemex Brewing 101
Today we are so excited to welcome two of our favorite baristas, Jason Strother and Isaac Neale, to share their tips and technique for brewing coffee with a Chemex. Jason and Isaac are co owners of Kingdom Coffee & Cycles, one of our very favorite coffee spots in Springfield, MO. You've likely seen (many) photos of us either with coffees from their shop or inside their beautiful downtown location.
If you ever find yourself in Springfield, we highly recommend you stop by their shop if you like good coffee and great people. We are stoked to learn from them today.
Chemex is our favorite multi-cup brew method. Chemex filters are 20-30% heavier (more absorbent) to remove undesirable sediment particles and oils, producing a cleaner, sweeter cup of coffee (you can read more about Chemex filters here). The main drawback of using a Chemex is that it is not great for making a single cup of coffee unless you buy the single serving (3-cup) size Chemex.
Chemex requires an overall brew time of approximately 6 minutes. Coffee should be ground medium-fine. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the finest and 10 being the most coarse, this grind would be a 7 or 8. The more coffee you are brewing at a time, the coarser it should be. For this particular set of parameters, it will be closer to 11.
-Coffee: You’ll need 42g of your favorite medium to light roast coffee.
-Grinder: We are using a Hario Slim Handmill. This is a burr grinder, which produces much more consistent granules than a blade grinder, which is really better suited for grinding spices. Almost any burr grinder is preferable to a blade grinder. We chose the Hario because of its affordability.
-Scale: We are using the AWS (American Weight Systems) SC-2kg pocket scale. To consistently produce good coffee, it is imperative to measure all of your ingredients. (Too much water, you’ll over extract the coffee; too little water, and you’ll under extract the coffee.) We love this scale because it is affordable, durable, and compact.
-Kettle: We are using a Bonavita 1 Liter Electric Gooseneck Kettle. This kettle is very easy to use. You simply need to fill it, switch it on, and it will kick off automatically when it reaches temperature. You will need your water to be right around 200 degrees for brewing. A simple way to achieve this is to let your water reach a boil, then let it sit for a minute or two.
-Chemex + filters: We are using the 6-cup Chemex, but these parameters will work with the 6-, 8-, or 10-cup Chemex. We prefer the bleached filters because they give a cleaner, truer extraction, imparting less papery taste to the coffee.
-Coffee cups: Any mugs will do, but make sure you preheat them by filling them halfway full with brew-temperature water to avoid thermal loss to the coffee.
-Timer (or iPhone): Anything that counts in seconds will work fine. Pro tip: You do not need to stop and restart the timer during extraction; you can let it run continuously using a bit of addition.
Step One: The Preparation. Weigh out your coffee (42g) and start heating your water. We are using a brew ratio of 1:15 grams (i.e., 1 gram of coffee to 15 grams of water), so you will need 630 grams of water for brewing and allow for 300 grams to rinse and preheat your vessels. You can go ahead and grind your coffee while you’re waiting for your water to reach temperature.
Step Two: The Filter. Open the filter and place it in the Chemex with the layered side toward the spout. Rinse the filter with brew-temperature water. Now add your coffee to the rinsed filter. This will help the filter to hold its shape as you remove it to pour out the rinse water. Once finished, place the filter back in the Chemex.
Step Three: The bloom. Wet the grounds with 80-100 grams of water (about twice as much water as coffee grounds) and wait 45 to 60 seconds (depending on the age of your coffee). You should see some bubbles emerge from the grounds. This is trapped gas escaping the coffee, which will allow for a more even extraction. If you don't see any, this might indicate that your coffee is old.
Step Four: The Pour. You will now pour the remaining water (for a total of 630 grams of water) in a circular motion in the center of the grounds. Try to constrain your pour to the area of a half dollar. Avoid pouring water toward the edges, as the water will run down the outside of the Chemex wall without extracting the coffee properly.
Step Five: The Finish. Once the stream of coffee exiting the filter slows to a drip, you can remove the filter, grounds and all, and dispose of it (we recommend tossing on your compost pile).
Now you are ready to serve and enjoy! And if you enjoy pretty coffee photos, you can follow Kingdom on Instagram @kingdom_sgf.
Credits // Authors: Isaac Neale and Jason Strother. Photos and Video: Sarah Rhodes. Music: Jeremy Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.