My roommate got a Chemex coffee pot for Christmas. “Chemex” seems to me an awful name for something not designed to clean toilets, but damned if it doesn’t produce a fantastic cuppa.
Designed by chemist Peter Schlumbohm in the 1940s, the Chemex design is based on a bunch of science-y stuff dealing with filtration and extraction to eliminate bitterness in the coffee. The result is simple and elegant.
(photo of Schlumbohm and the Chemex from this Gourmet article)
It’s an all-in-one contraption– the only other thing you need is a special kind of filter that’s thicker on one side than the other. This makes for easy cleanup! All you do is pick up the filter and throw it away.
I usually prefer my coffee with a fair amount of milk, precisely to cut the acidity and any bitterness there may be, but there is no need to do so with the Chemex brew. It’s smooth, flavorful, and beautifully balanced with no accouterments whatsoever. I tried it with milk, too, and ended up dumping it out because it just watered down the wonderful flavor too much.
The only complaint I have with Chemex coffee stems from a personal preference of not really liking any type of drip as much as I like press pot or pressure extracted brew. I like a muddy cup of coffee that leaves sediment in the bottom of the cup, but if you don’t, I strongly recommend trying Chemex out. The process can be time consuming, as you pour water over the grounds incrementally, but there’s an element of ritual to it that’s pretty satisfying.
Here are the instructions from the website:
1. Open the Chemex-Bonded Coffee Filter into a cone. One side should have three layers. Place the cone in the top of your coffeemaker with the thick portion toward the pouring spout.
2. Using Regular or Automatic Grind coffee only, put one rounded tablespoon of coffee per 5 oz. cup into the filter cone. If you prefer stronger coffee, use more; there is never any bitterness in coffee brewed using the Chemex® method.
3. When the water is boiling, remove it from the heat until it stops boiling vigorously. It should now be at about 200ºF, a perfect brewing temperature. Pour a small amount of water over the coffee grounds, just enough to wet them without floating. This is important because it allows the grounds to “bloom,” so the desirable coffee elements can be released.
4. After this first wetting simply pour more water, soaking the grounds each time, but keeping the water level well below the top of the coffeemaker. Once the desired amount of coffee is brewed, dispose of the spent grounds by lifting the filter out of the coffeemaker.