6 Things to Know Before Buying Your First Chemex Coffee Maker

buying first chemex

You went to a fussy coffee shop last week and diverged from your usual pourover order for something a little fancier—the Chemex coffee maker. Those extra two dollars didn’t go to waste, though. As soon as you smelled the freshly brewed cup of coffee, you were hooked.

And since you know the ROI of homebrewing coffee is undeniable, you’d rather save yourself the upcharge and invest in your very own Chemex for your at-home coffee kit. But before you type in your credit card details to make the purchase online, here’s what you need to know about the lady of the hour: Chemex drip coffee and maker.

What to know about the Chemex coffee maker

1. Chemex sizes vary.

The original Chemex as made by by a chemist named Peter Schlumbohm in 1941 as a six cup coffee maker. Now, the Chemex comes in three, six, eight, and 10 cup sizes.

The Chemex coffee dripper dimensions range significantly across the size options. Surprisingly, the height only ranges from 8.25 inches to 9.25 inches across the smallest and largest volume. The width ranges from 4.5 inches to 6.25 and the depth from 2.75 to 5.75 inches. It assumes one cup = five fluid ounces (so you can use your 10 cup to brew roughly 50 ounces).

chemex coffee brewer

Here’s how the prices of the Chemex® Classic Series coffeemaker break down:

The Chemex single cup coffee maker doesn’t really exist (unless you’re good with 15 ounces of coffee to start your day!).

The hourglass shape comes in multiple designs—classic, with a wooden collar around its neck, or one with a handle. We bought the less pretty one with the handle (because David always chooses practicality over beauty). :)

We bought the 10 cup Chemex coffee dripper because we use it as a system for share delicious coffee with friends over brunch or breakfast. It’s not actually a practical solution for when it’s just David and me and our regular morning brews (he always makes a Kalita Wave pourover, I generally stick to AeroPress).

2. It’s made of glass.

We love glass coffee brewing systems because they avoid absorbing odors and chemical residues. One major downside, though, is that it can break pretty easily (I knocked our first one over, unfortunately).

The glass material of the Chemex coffee maker has a positive effect on its heat retention, too—the carafe transfers heat at a slower rate than, say, metal. Since coffee tastes best hot (sorry, cold brew lovers!), this is a great perk. Keeping Chemex coffee hot is a breeze.

3. You need to buy special filters, too.

The Chemex uses one of the heaviest paper filters on the market to counteract the size of the hole in its neck (up to 30% thicker than normal filters!). According to Clarion Cafe, “The Chemex filters are much more densely woven than traditional coffee filters. They help to regulate the flow of coffee while removing much of the body and coffee oils. The filter slows down the flow of water passed through it, resulting in a better developed flavor.” The filter works hard to eliminate sediment, oils and fatty acids, leaving you with richer coffee flavor.

You can buy Chemex lab-grade filters at most retailers that sell the Chemex pourover system, or even online on Amazon for around $15. Go for unbleached Chemex filters if possible—they don’t necessarily brew a better cup of coffee, but they are more environmentally friendly.

Looking for a reusable alternative to the paper filters? You can find a few great options online, the best being Able Brewing’s Chemex Kone Coffee Filter. It’s made of stainless steel so it’s durability is unmatched.

4. It can help make your coffee taste really, really good.

We say “help” because simply using a Chemex coffee dripper isn’t a surefire way to make a delicious cup of coffee. What matters most, of course, is your bean quality—how fresh they are, when the beans were ground, the level of roast, the way it was processed, if it’s a blend or single origin, etc. What matters next is how careful the brewer is: do you just dump all of your water in sit around for it to finish doing it’s thing? Were you particular about the water temp and grind size?

But then, yes—if you follow best practices for home brewing coffee and have great beans on hand, the Chemex will give you an awesome cup of coffee. It’s thicker paper filters remove unnecessary oils and extra body of the coffee, leaving you with a ridiculously delicious, clean, and flavor-forward cup of joe.

things to know about chemex coffee

5. It’s pretty much a fancy pourover.

You might think that the Chemex is in a class of its own, but it’s actually the same basic brewing system as a pourover such as the Kalita Wave or other common market alternatives. We’ve heard rumors that, when brewing Chemex, “you pour from outside-in, as opposed to the pourover, which is poured inside-out.” But we haven’t confirmed that this, in fact, has a noticeable effect on quality of the final product.

6. What’s so great about Chemex?

There are many sizable benefits of the Chemex coffee maker for all coffee drinkers alike. Here’s what we think is so great about the Chemex:

  • It’s great for larger groups—it’s convenient to make coffee for 3+ people
  • The body of the coffee takes the backseat, giving the coffee a less-heavy mouthfeel
  • The carafe doubles as a server and looks good doing so
  • The Chemex creates an infinitely smooth cup
  • Great for bringing out the complexities of lighter roasts and more nuanced flavors

Why is Chemex better? It ultimately depends on what type of coffee you’re after and how much time you have to make it. But, in essence, the slower brew = a richer cup of coffee. The thicker filters = more focused flavors in your coffee.

Where to buy Chemex

Wondering “Where can I buy a Chemex?” Awesome! We’ve had great success finding them at third wave coffee shops across the country—anywhere that roasts their own beans or uses artisan beans in their cups should have a Chemex available for purchase.

Not wanting to support the little guys? You can find a Chemex at big box retailers like Cost Plus World Market, Bed, Bath, and Beyond, or Wal Mart consistently.

Or, instead of chasing it here, there, and everywhere—get the size you want, at the price you want, delivered direct to your doorstep. Thanks, Amazon!

Where to buy Chemex filters

These are also easily purchased online or at similar locations where the Chemex coffee pots or sold. Easy-peasy!

Join us on the Chemex coffee train! 🚂 ☕️ 😁

Now that you know what makes a Chemex coffee maker great, it’s high-time you purchase one of your own! Then you can start pimping it out with caddies and specialized filter storage to your heart’s desire. No judgment here!

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