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Acing the Chemex Brewer at Home

The classic Chemex brewer was invented in 1941 and has since become ubiquitous in homes and cafés around the world. Admired for its perfect blend of form and function, it remains one of the most popular brewing methods among coffee pros and home enthusiasts. Here’s how to use the brewer to make the best coffee at home.

The Filter The filter is really where the magic happens. Also designed by Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, the German chemist who created the Chemex in 1941, the special filter has unique double bonding that is 20 to 30 percent heavier than the average paper filter. Its thickness removes fine sediment and natural oils from the coffee, bringing a clarity to the coffee that is perfect for tasting its true flavor.

The Grind The coffee should be ground medium-coarse so as not to clog the filter. Too fine of a grind results in a sluggish extraction; users can tweak the amount of coffee they add to the filter depending on personal taste and the type of coffee being used.

Brewing Temperature The ideal brewing temperature is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Brewing coffee is about extracting the delicious flavors that are locked inside the bean and putting those compounds into solution. The temperature of the water is what sparks that extraction. The higher the temperature, the greater the extraction—but under- or over-extraction can lead to bad flavors, as well. Under-extraction leaves natural sugars in the coffee behind, yielding acidic and sour flavors, whereas over-extraction results in a tannic bitterness that is astringent and mouth drying.

Timing The filter’s thicker design regulates the pace of the coffee as it infuses into the hot water, yielding a richer flavor without impurities. Give the water time to pass through the grounds before adding more water to the filter, keeping about an inch between the water level and the top of the filter to avoid flooding the grounds.

Drinking Temperature At high temperatures, chemistry is still taking place in the coffee solution. Maintaining the coffee at high temperatures past the point of extraction yields that stale “office coffee” taste. By the time a Chemex is finished brewing, the coffee is ready to consume at about 160 degrees. If you let it fall to 120 to 130 degrees, it’s still hot, but the perception of flavor is more pronounced.

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