The best coffee for the Chemex coffee maker
March 07, 2018

The best coffee for the Chemex coffee maker

The Chemex is a staple in every coffee enthusiast's cupboard.  Its design has endured unchanged (wood handle, leather cord, tapered glass and all), since its invention in 1941.  The pour-over process created by this design removes the coffee’s oils, and extracts only the desirable part of the bean for brewing, leaving you with a delicious flavour which isn’t achieved by many other coffee makers.  Widely considered to be one of the best ways to brew the perfect cup of coffee, the Chemex has been the choice of coffee lovers around the world for over 75 years.

Making perfect Chemex coffee

Coffee from a Chemex is similar to that from other drip brew methods like filter coffee, but there’s more scope for error.  To guarantee the best results, grind your beans more coarsely than you would for a ceramic drip, and offer extra attention to the pour rate. This level of care yields a delicate and nuanced coffee with a very clean cup and balanced floral notes, while maintaining body and clarity.  The technique takes practice, particularly the multi-phase pouring, but don't be put off, the rewards are well worth it! 

Our Chemex Brew Guide is a great place to start, especially if you’re new to this coffee maker.  We provide Chemex filter instructions, an ideal grind size description and details on the best coffee-to-water ratio for a Chemex.  The pour-over phased steps are the most complicated part of the coffee making process to master, but again, practice makes perfect. 

How to choose coffee for your Chemex

Unlike some other brew methods, you can afford to be less selective about the type of coffee you use in your Chemex.  This is because the brew method itself draws out the best flavours in most coffees.  But there are a few nuances to consider, many of which will ultimately come down to personal taste.  When choosing an ideal coffee for the Chemex, consider the roast first. Then, consider the coffee’s country of origin.

Recommended Roast Level for Chemex

The Chemex actually removes the oils that can make dark roasts bitter.  So, unlike other drip methods, it works well with all roast levels.  It brings out flavours that you would not normally experience in darker roasts, while also bringing out the body of the light roasts.  However, if we are pushed for a recommendation, we always suggest a medium roast, with medium to high acidity, as an ideal coffee for the pure flavour experience the Chemex delivers.

Spiller & Tait customers who regularly use Chemex often ask us how to make Chemex coffee stronger.  Increasing the recommended coffee-to-water ratio given in our Brew Guide is one way to do this.  But, if you’re after a strong tasting brew, you really can get away with trying a dark French Roast, normally reserved for expresso, in a Chemex because the bitterness is stripped away to leave a strength of flavour.

Recommended Provenance for Chemex

Since the Chemex really brings out the flavour in coffee, we generally steer people towards coffees which have some unique or nuanced flavours.  This is why we particularly recommend single origin coffees for this brew method.  However, some blended coffees hold equally subtle flavours and are just as good in a Chemex.  Here are a few of our favourite Spiller & Tait single origin and blends for Chemex.

Colombian Coffee

Colombian coffees tend to be familiar to Americans, since most of their major brands are sourced there, and less familiar to Europeans. They are mainly fairly light and well-balanced, a bit acidic, and with good fruity undertones.  If you like a fruity coffee, then we recommend our Pure Colombia Huila for Chemex.  This single origin coffee balances flavour with full juicy body, subtle tastes of blackcurrant and black forest berries. 

Ethiopian Coffee

If you love citrus and spice, then some coffees from Ethiopia will be perfect for your Chemex.  Consider getting coffee from the Sidamo region so you can enjoy lots of different flavors.  While this coffee is normally light-bodied, it is even lighter when brewed with the Chemex.  If you like an intense, full bodied coffee then try our Classic Italian Blend.  Beans from Ethiopia and Brazil offer a bitter-sweet cocoa, combined with sweet caramel and subtle hazelnut to create the perfect balance.  It avoids the bitter after-taste of high roast coffees, but still delivers full caffeine strength.

Indonesian Coffee

Indonesia is well known for its varieties of coffee. If you own a Chemex, consider getting coffee from Indonesia’s island of Sumatra. This coffee has dried fruit tones and a nutty base.  It also has a sweet aftertaste that lingers well after each sip. These flavours really come out with the Chemex. In addition, the coffee emits a wonderful aroma of dried fruit and nuts that will get your mouth watering and make you ready for your first cup of the day. Try our Tait’s Gold Gourmet Blend.  The Sumatran beans in this coffee come through to create good sweetness and a noticeable fruity acidity, with a lingering creamy body.

Peruvian Coffee

Coffee from Peru is an excellent choice when using a Chemex.  Peru is known for coffee with subtle flavours that really come out with the Chemex.  Consider a dark roast if you really want strong flavours.  Pay attention to the nutty and chocolaty tones, along with the citrus flavour.  Because there are so many flavours in this type of coffee, you might notice something new with every sip.  Try our Sparkling Water Decaffeinated coffee, which comes from Peru.  It’s bright and clean, with delicate nut and chocolate notes to finish.

The Chemex really is a great way to make a cup of coffee. While any type of coffee works well in the Chemex, some are better than others.  Go with coffee that has distinct flavours so you can truly enjoy your Chemex. You will taste flavours that you never noticed in your coffee before and you may even discover a new favourite type of coffee.