Your friend told you about this wonderful coffee maker she has that makes very smooth and robust coffee, but you’re not ready to give up your drip coffeemaker. After researching the cost of the Chemex online, you might wonder if it’s worth the hype. After all, it’s only a pour-over coffee pot, right?
A Chemex is worth it if you’re looking for a slow artisanal way to brew gourmet coffee. You have other choices, but the coffee doesn’t take on the containers’ flavors like other brewing systems because of the unique design and the thick, tempered glass.
If you’re considering the Chemex coffee system, read this article and come to your conclusions. A gourmet brewing system might become part of your morning routine!
What Is a Chemex?
A Chemex is a pour-over coffee system that slowly releases all the oils and flavors from the coffee grounds to make a robust, rich pitcher of coffee. The glass pitcher is shaped like an hourglass with a funnel neck that allows you to put a proprietary filter in for your coffee grounds. The proprietary filters are thicker than other filters to provide a cleaner coffee with no sludge that other coffee makers create.
The Chemex uses a coarser ground than most pour-over coffee makers use, making the resulting coffee more like French Press coffee. It uses hot boiling water to extract all the coffee flavor. And the glass pitcher keeps odd flavors from getting into the coffee.
How Does the Pour-Over Coffee Method Compare to the Drip Method?
The pour-over method allows you more control over how long water stays on the grounds than the drip coffee method. The process starts with a little boiling water to wet the grounds, which helps them start releasing the oils, or ‘bloom.’ Once they’ve had time to bloom, then the rest of the boiling water is slowly poured over the grounds to let the flavors slowly come out.
The drip method is where the machine completely controls the brewing process once you add the grounds and water. In the drip process, the water passes over the coffee grounds and pauses for a minute or so, then continues to pass through the filter. A potential downside to the drip method is that the coffee’s oils and flavors do not get fully extracted because the water does not stay on the grounds long enough.
A pour-over method allows the water to relax the grounds enough to ‘open up’ the flavors. You can let the water sit for as long as you want, and the more it sits, the more it extracts the flavors. The downside to this method is that it is slower than the drip method, and it won’t be ready as soon as you might need it in the morning.
Coffee made using the drip method is faster, but it doesn’t allow enough time to extract the grounds fully. However, it is more convenient and quicker, especially when you’re trying to quickly get out the door to go to work in the mornings.
The Chemex might be good in the evenings to make cold coffee for the next morning or on weekends when you have more time to make gourmet coffee to complement your brunch.
How Does the Chemex Compare to Other Pour-Over Coffee Systems?
So is Chemex the same as other pour-over coffee systems? The Sagebrush coffee company compared these systems and came up with several differences between Chemex and pour-over systems. Pour-over systems come with smaller ceramic jars that are portable and less breakable than the Chemex pitcher.
As outlined below, the other differences make a big difference in the kind of coffee experience you have.
Proprietary Filters Help Keep the Coffee Smooth
Chemex filters can only be bought through the Chemex site, as they are much thicker and larger than the cone filters. They have the consistency of fabric, which allows the water to stay in the filter over the grounds longer, and because they are much larger than cone filters, they fold over to create a thick filter.
Other pour-over systems use thin paper cone filters to keep the grounds out of the coffee. But because they are thinner, the paper gets soaked quicker, which allows the water to pass through the filter sooner. When the water goes through sooner, it doesn’t extract as much of the oils as it would otherwise.
The Chemex filters keep the water in the filter longer, which produces a smoother and more robust flavored coffee.
Coffee Grounds Are More Coarse for the Chemex
Other pour-over systems use a fine grind, such as an espresso grind, which works better with a thinner paper filter. As the water goes through the grounds and filter, the extraction is just right, as there is more surface area of the coffee grounds exposed to the water.
When using the Chemex system, a coarse grind is necessary, as it sits in the water longer. The advantage of this over other systems is that all the coffee’s oils are extracted through the double-thick filter. But because the filter is so thick, the coffee’s bitterness stays in the filter, and the coarse grounds contribute to a smooth cup of coffee.
How Much Does a Chemex Cost, and Is It Worth the Cost?
An 8-cup glass Chemex coffee maker on Amazon costs around $50, which is more expensive than several drip-coffee makers. However, when you get one with thick tempered glass, it will last a long time. Drip coffee makers might last 5-10 years, but a Chemex can last 20-30 years, so a price of $50 is reasonable considering how long they can last.
The only issue that might be intimidating is that you’ll need to buy the Chemex filters from the site every time you run out of filters. The site lists a pack of 100 filters for $9.50, and if you change the filter every time you make a new pitcher of coffee, you’ll get 100 pots of coffee from one pack.
While these filters are more expensive than the normal paper filters, the price is still reasonable at under 10 cents per filter.
How To Make Coffee With a Chemex
If you’ve never heard of the Chemex or the pour-over coffee system and are not sure about buying this coffee system, let’s talk for a minute about how the coffee-making process works with this coffee maker.
- Either use a store-bought medium grind or set your grinder to a medium-coarse grind. The coarse grind will hold water longer and extract the coffee oils better.
- Place your specialty filter in the Chemex according to instructions.
- Scoop one tablespoon of coffee per 5 or 6 oz cup you intend to serve into the filter.
- Bring water to boil; then pour a small amount of water over the grounds.
- Wait 30 seconds to a minute to let the coffee grounds extract the oils and flavor.
- Then slowly pour water over the grounds.
- Let the water drain through the grounds, then throw out the filter.
Once you’ve learned the slight nuances of how to brew coffee this way, you might not go back to your drip coffee maker.
A Chemex is certainly worth the cost if you’re interested in a different way of making coffee. Some people buy several different coffee-making systems to find out the best way to make a wonderfully robust cup of coffee.
If you’re the type of person who loves experimenting with their morning coffee, this system might be just the thing you need to expand your horizons. If you’re the type of person who likes sticking to one method all the time, give this a try and see if this new method works better for you.
- Roasty Coffee: Pour Over vs. Drip Coffee
- Amazon: Chemex Pour-Over Glass Coffeemaker
- Wikipedia: Chemex Coffee Maker
- Sagebrush Coffee: What’s the Difference Between a Chemex and a Pour-Over?
- I Need Coffee: Chemex Coffee Brewing History and Tutorial
- Chemex: Filters
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