Make coffee like a scientist, using one of these retro looking contraptions called a Chemex - a coffee making device from yesteryear that offers a unique brewing experience for real coffee lovers.
So, what on earth is a Chemex?
Invented by a German chemist way back in the 1940s, who went by the name Mr Schlumbohm, who decided to combine a laboratory funnel and chemistry flask with an air funnel, to create the ultimate coffee making tool.
The purpose of the air funnel was to allow air to escape as hot water is poured into the vessel.
Mr Schlumbohm added a waist-like wooden belt across the middle of the device to prevent people getting burned when pouring their favourite beverage!
The Chemex Method
This creation uses a method of brewing called ‘infusion’ - more commonly known in the coffee community as ‘drip coffee’.
Infusion or ‘drip’ is a method whereby hot water runs through a bed of coffee, into a filter and down to the vessel below.
Grind and Brew
With the Chemex, you really must watch your grind size and brew times - the coarser the grind, the faster the flow of water. The finer the grind, the slower the flow of water, so as to avoid over-extraction a medium to coarse grind is best to produce lots of flavour without an oily aftertaste.
You will need a bit of trial and error to get it right. Well, we did say this was a scientific way of brewing, didn't we?
There’s a wide selection of filters that can be used with a Chemex. You can also purchase papers in different shapes and sizes, from square to half-moon.
The critical thing to remember, is that the filter paper must be correctly inserted into the Chemex for it to work properly. We always recommend reading the enclosed guide, the packaging or even quickly Googling how to set everything up correctly from the start – it will save you a lot of spilled coffee!
If you’re a traditional coffee maker, you may prefer to use cloth filter papers – designed to be rinsed between use.
Getting the dose right, first time
It’s important to remember, the Chemex device traditionally makes a light coffee, so you may want to up your coffee to water ratio, if you’re used to a stronger brew.
Generally, you need a hot water temperature of 90 to 96 degrees – the closer to 96 degrees, the more flavour you’re able to extract, but be careful, hitting 100 degrees risks scalding your coffee and spoiling it!
Pour and Agitate
First, you need to bloom your coffee (the part of the coffee brewing process in which the gasses from the coffee are released as the water hits the grinds) to remove any excess CO2 and make the bed of the coffee damp.
By blooming your coffee, you reduce the chance of channelling, which happens when the water finds the easiest path through one or two places in the bed of coffee grounds.
After this blooming process is complete, gently agitate your brew with a small spoon – increasing the extraction of flavour from the coffee.
Time to Serve
Throw your filter away (or give it a wash if it’s the cloth version) and swirl your Chemex a little – ta da! Your coffee is ready to pour!
You’ll find that the Chemex should produce a clean and ultimately pleasing coffee.
Keeping your Chemex clean is incredibly important. You should wash the vessel by hand, using a little bit of soap and water. You really don’t want any dry coffee residue to wash up in your next brew!