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How to Use a Chemex

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Here at Food52, we're serious about our coffee. So we got our friends over at Stumptown Coffee to teach us everything there is to know about it -- and to make our morning (and afternoon) routines a little bit brighter.

Today: The best way to brew coffee in a Chemex.


Chemex from Food53

We are huge fans of the Chemex around here. This classic brewer elicits scores of devoted followers, and it's no great mystery why. The Chemex was created in 1941 by Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, a chemist and inventor. The original design has not changed to this day, and it sits in the permanent design collections of the MOMA and the Smithsonian. Though the Chemex was the most popular of Schlumbohm’s many inventions -- and seen as the most patriotic, too, because no metal parts were used to impede the Allied war effort -- he also invented some short-lived gems, like the disposable aluminum frying pan. 

The Chemex differentiates itself from other pour overs, too, because it uses a lab-grade filter, which collects many of the oils and fines while brewing and which allows for a very clean cup -- often highlighting the brighter, fruitier notes in a coffee. 

chemex from Food52

To brew: 

First, grind 42 grams (about 6 tablespoons) of coffee -- the ground coffee should be about as coarse as kosher salt. 

Next, place the filter inside the Chemex, lining up the multiple folds with the spout. Pre-rinse to seal the filter and rinse out the paper flavor. Discard the rinse water and add your ground coffee.

Now pour just enough water (30 seconds off the boil or about 200°F) to saturate the grounds and let it bloom for 30 seconds. The fresher the coffee, the more of a bloom you will see. 

Next, pour water evenly in a spiral over the coffee bed and slowly fill to the top of the brewer. For an even extraction, pour over the dark spots and avoid the light ones. Continue to add water periodically until the brewed coffee reaches the glass button on the Chemex. 

Lift the filter out of the Chemex and pre-warm your favorite mug with hot water, drink it up, and now you’re ready for anything.

Tags: coffee, how-to & DIY, stumptown coffee, chemex

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