Understanding the Chemex by Kieran Lobo – Nangoo Coffee

Understanding the Chemex by Kieran Lobo

Understanding the Chemex: History, Benefits, and Brew Guide


Sleek, stylish, and simple. Designed in 1941 by the German chemist Peter Schlumbohm, the Chemex was created1 to simplify the percolation brewing process. 


The Chemex is currently the only coffee brewing equipment to be inducted into New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). Its signature hourglass design is a product of the Bauhaus movement2—it unites fine art and industrial design. When designing the Chemex, Schlumbohm wanted to apply his training in physics and chemistry towards brewing the perfect cup of coffee.


“When, in 1938, the personal desire for coffee came up, my aspect simply was: A coffeemaker must make coffee, and then I applied my knowledge of physics and chemistry.”


The product’s design has remained unchanged since 1941. It was originally marketed3 under the tagline “The Chemist’s Way of Making Coffee.” Schlumbohm’s experience as a chemist—he had a Ph.D. in the subject from the University of Berlin—was demonstrable: for one, he used double-bonded paper filters: 20-30% thicker than regular filter papers, they ensured more even extraction and also filtered out4 solids and suspended oils, resulting in a clean cup without5 any bitterness. Morever, the Chemex was made from a single piece of borosilicate glass (sometimes with a wooden collar attached). Glass, unlike plastic, ceramic, or another material, did not impart any flavour to the coffee.There is also a small indent on the side, which, apart from functioning as a spout, also functions as6 an air channel during the brewing process. A small dimple also marks where half of the carafe’s volume is.



The Chemex Today


The Chemex is a popular product that has been heavily featured7 in pop culture, finding mention in American sitcoms, Hollywood movies, and also the famous James Bond series. 


While the Chemex dipped in popularity8 during the last decades of the 20th century, the early 2000s saw the rise of third-wave roasters and an increase in discerning and coffee-conscious consumers, leading to a boom in production and sales. Today, the Chemex is beginning to enjoy a cult-like following akin to the Aeropress. There is even an International Chemex Cup9 which has been held in Berlin since 2017.   


The Chemex also finds popularity among the health-conscious. The thicker, double-bonded filter paper retains diterpenes*, namely cafestol and kahweol, which could affect10 the cholesterol levels of an individual. Keeping this in mind, we recommend brewing with the Chemex using our selection of darker roasts, namely the Laxmi and the BET 328, which are known for their lower acidity and fat content. 


Brewing with the Chemex


To brew, you will need the following: 

  • Chemex
  • Chemex filter
  • Water
  • Freshly ground coffee (recommended)
  • Timer
  • Weighing scale (recommended)
  • Thermometer (recommended)

  

Note: If you don't have a weighing scale and thermometer, bring water to a boil and allow it to sit for 40-45 seconds to reach the optimal brewing temperature. 



Start by opening the folded Chemex filter, ensuring the three-fold side is alongside the funnel—this maintains an air vent during the brewing process, allowing the coffee to filter at a constant rate.


Next, boil water and rinse the paper filter. Make sure you throw out the residual water. Place your Chemex on the scale and tare to zero. For your coffee, we recommend a 1:15 coffee to water ratio (that is, 15 grams of water to one gram of coffee). 


Add your ground coffee (we recommend a medium-coarse grind) into the rinsed paper filter placed in the Chemex. Pour enough water (recommended brewing temperature: 94°C) to just wet all the coffee. The hot water forces the trapped gases in the ground coffee to be released, which allows for maximum flavour extraction. This phase is known as the “bloom,” owing to the bubbles that form at the top.


After the bloom, begin pouring your water in a concentric manner, beginning in the centre and moving out towards the edges. To achieve a consistent extraction while brewing, make sure that all the grounds are equally wetted throughout the process.


Once you have brewed to your desired strength, discard the paper filter with the used coffee grounds. Swirl the extracted coffee in the Chemex to lower the temperature, pour, and serve!  



Nangoo aspect is health. Recommend using darker roasts bc lower acidity n fat content. Laxmi BET 328. 



Citations:

  1. https://www.chemexcoffeemaker.com/gallery/album/history
  2. https://www.theartstory.org/movement/bauhaus/
  3. https://lemelson.mit.edu/resources/peter-schlumbohm
  4. https://frothymonkey.com/chemex-brew-guide/#:~:text=This%20brew%20method%20was%20designed,Schlumbohm%2C%20in%201941.&text=Chemex%20filters%20are%2020%2D30,cannot%20pass%20through%20the%20filter.
  5. https://www.sagebrushcoffee.com/blogs/education/the-chemex-coffee-brewer-will-bring-you-a-bright-nuanced-perfect-cup-of-coffee
  6. https://www.chemexcoffeemaker.com/faq
  7. https://www.moustachecoffeeclub.com/all-about-chemex
  8. https://sprudge.com/journey-to-the-center-of-the-chemex-factory-72186.html
  9. https://www.coffeecircle.com/de/b/chemex-cup
  10. https://www.coffeeandhealth.org/topic-overview/compounds-in-coffee-2/