The Chemex: How a Simple Coffee Maker Became an Icon

0 commentPost by : Jasmin Tétreault

If you've ever watched old movies, chances are you've seen a Chemex in the kitchen. Created by 1941 Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, this unassuming glass pot looks like something out of a scientist's laboratory, and in some ways, that's not far from the truth. This German chemist revolutionized the way we drink and enjoy coffee today. With its sleek design and hourglass shape, the Chemex was unlike any other coffee maker on the market.

The Chemex became popular in the United States in the 1960s, and it now enjoys something of a cult following among coffee aficionados. If you're thinking about getting into the pour-over coffee game, here's what you need to know about the Chemex.

It quickly became a must-have item for making coffee, but how did this simple coffee maker become an icon of style?

Chemex in coffee shop

The Icon

The answer lies in Chemex's unique design. The borosilicate glass carafe was originally developed for scientific use. This type of glass makes the Chemex resistant to thermal shock, meaning it can go from hot to cold without shattering. The glass also gives it a clean look, perfect for displaying the color of your brewed coffee.

It's not just the glass that makes the Chemex look so special, it's also the wooden collar and leather tie that hold the carafe in place. These two aesthetic elements made it a favorite among coffee lovers.

Why use a Chemex?

So why go through all the hassle of making pour-over coffee? Isn't regular drip coffee just as good? While a regular coffee maker can make good coffee, there are some distinct advantages to brewing with a Chemex. For one thing, because you have more control over the brewing process with a Chemex, you can experiment with different ratios of water to coffee grounds until you find one that produces the perfect cup of coffee for your taste buds.

Pouring coffee grounds in chemex

The Fall of Chemex

The drawbacks

It doesn't hold heat as well as stainless steel carafes. The coffee cools off rather quickly after it's brewed. The Chemex also requires special filters that are often out of stock.

Finally, the Chemex leaves a lot of sediment in the cup, which can make the coffee taste muddy. In contrast, the newer brewing methods produce a cleaner cup of coffee with less sediment.

Chemex & Modern Brewers

In recent years, other methods like the Hario V60, have begun to replace more traditional brewers. There are several reasons for this change, but mainly it comes down to extraction. The Chemex is slower and doesn't extract the coffee as well as newer brewers.

Swirling coffee in chemex

How to use a Chemex

Using a Chemex is simple, which is one of the reasons it became so popular. Just place the filter, add your ground coffee, and slowly pour hot water over it. Pouring carefuly not to disturb the grounds too much. 

It's important to use the right ratio of water to coffee grounds. For the bloom, you should use about twice as much water as ground coffee with a final ratio of 1:15 for coffee to water. The brewing process should take between three and four minutes. Once the brewing is complete, simply remove the filter and enjoy your delicious cup of pour-over coffee! 

Pour over chemex

So there you have it: the story of how Chemex came to be an icon. This coffee brewer has been helping coffee lovers make the perfect cup for over half a century. If you're looking for an interesting conversation starter or just want to make sure your coffee tastes great in the morning, try a Chemex.


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