The Chemex Review – Functional or Just Funky?

Given the hype explosion over the past few years, you may think that pour over coffee is a recent fad, but you’d be wrong. Among pour over brewers, there is only one that has truly withstood the test of time.

The Chemex coffee maker may be old, but he be wise in the ways of damn-delicious coffee. Without wasting anymore time, let's get straight to my Chemex pour over review to see if this is the right brewer for you.

The Chemex - In a Nutshell

The Chemex Coffee Maker
  • Aesthetic Appeal
  • Ease Of Use
  • Brew Control Ability
  • Portability
  • Price
4.0

The Chemex is one of the most widely recognized pour over coffee makers and can be found in most coffee and kitchen stores.

This brewer has a double-whammy reputation as both a beautiful kitchen tool and a high-quality coffee maker and is a near-perfect balance of aesthetics and performance.

With a wide range of size options and two different styles to choose from, the Chemex can satisfy just about any appetite.

Handled properly, the coffee it makes is smooth yet full of flavor. The Chemex does take some practice to get used to, but its coffee making abilities are a match for even the best pour over pros.


Things to Consider Before Buying a Drip Pot Like The Chemex

Drip coffee often gets a bad rep for being “weak” in comparison to its très fort cousin espresso. And though that may be true at your local Waffle House, a proper drip pot brew is nothing to joke around about.

A drip pot is essentially a pour over dripper combined with a carafe. In other words, it’s pure brilliance. With a few minor variations, depending on your choice of drip pot, they operate just like any standard pour over brewer.

These coffee makers are ideal for someone who likes manual drip coffee, but is looking for more of an all-in-one package. Because they often come in larger sizes than most pour overs, they are also great for someone with a few more mouths to caffeinate.

If you are looking for a quick, no-fuss coffee maker, then a drip pot is the wrong place to look. Though they are easy to use, they require a bit of patience and attention. Instead of a drip pot, you’d be better off with an automatic dripper or a French press.

However, if you’re still set on drip pot coffee, there are a few things you should keep in mind while shopping:

  1. How much coffee can this drip pot make?

  2. Is it difficult to use?

  3. How much upkeep does it need?

The Chemex Coffee Maker Review

Pour over coffee may have only recently become popular, but the Chemex has been around for over 70 years. It was invented in 1941 and has remained virtually unchanged ever since.

Considering that it is still regarded as one of the better pour over coffee makers, its age is a testament to its genius design.

The Chemex is shaped like an oversized hourglass, with the dripper cone sitting directly above the coffee reservoir. Though its design may seem simplistic, each aspect serves a specific purpose: awesome coffee.

This brewer is great for someone who enjoys manual drip coffee, but if you are looking for a no-hassle coffee maker, then the Chemex is not the right choice for you.

Additionally, it can be a little finicky, making it a challenge for the pour over beginner. But with some practice, anyone with a little patience can master the process.

PROS

  • An impressively beautiful and timeless design.
  • Highly flexible and open to tailoring.
  • A wide range of style options.

CONS

  • Can be difficult to use at first.
  • The all-glass frame is much more fragile than most other pour over coffee makers.

A Thing of Beauty (Literally)

Do you have any modern art in your house? If not, there is a simple solution to that problem: buy a Chemex.

Though I may sound like a cheesy advert, I assure you that its beauty is more than opinion, it is established fact. This fancy pour over is on permanent display in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

This is a coffee maker you’ll want front and center in your kitchen. Its design is part playful, part modest, yet 100% functional. Like some third-wave Swedish coffee house, it just oozes minimalist utilitarianism.

However, like momma always said, “looks only get you so far — you’ve gotta have the talent to match the tits.” A pretty coffee maker that can’t brew good coffee is no more than a dust collector.

Luckily, the Chemex is more than a piece of decoration and can produce some of the most delicious drip coffee your tongue has ever had the privilege to taste (which I’ll get to in just a bit).

The Sizes Available Have You Covered

No matter how large your coffee needs, Chemex has got you covered. With these coffee makers you have the choice of either a 3-cup, a 6-cup, an 8-cup, or even a 10-cup brewer.

*Side note: Chemex uses a 5 oz. standard for their “cup” sizes, so for some people (Americans) the 10-cup brewer may be more of an 8-cup brewer, to give an example.

Besides the 3-cup Chemex, each model uses the same filter, which significantly cuts down on the number of Amazon returns and makes your life a little easier. You also have the option to use either their oxygen-cleansed white filters (no bleach), their natural brown filters, or their reusable cloth filter.

Once you’ve decided which size coffee maker best suits your needs, you can then chose between two different styles.

The style most people are familiar with is the model with a wood collar tied around its waist by a leather cord. The combination of glass, wood, and leather is what makes this model such a classic.

The other style is made entirely out of glass. Instead of a wood corset, this model has a slim glass handle that arches from the top brew cone down to the coffee container, making this version great for the die-hard minimalist.

And if all those options aren’t enough to satisfy you craving for personalization, there are also numerous accessories to chose from that match its iconic design.

You Can Be as Meticulous as You Want

The Chemex shares one important design feature with the Hario V60, which is one of pour over coffee’s most famous coffee makers. Just like with the V60, at the base of the dripper cone is a wide opening.

This large opening is one of the biggest reasons the Chemex makes such tasty coffee. Other pour over brewers have certain barriers to restrict water flow, like a series of small holes in the base or a thick filter, but the Chemex has no such barriers

The large opening in the Chemex places more emphasis on other variables like pouring and grind size to control water flow. This means that you have a bigger say in the quality of coffee than you would with other coffee makers.

This feature also gives the Chemex more flexibility. By altering the other elements of your process, you can tailor each brew to bring out the nuances of different roasts.

Something to be mindful of is that this feature also makes the Chemex quite unforgiving. Crafting the perfect brew with this coffee maker is going to take some practice and experimentation.

However, it isn’t as difficult to master as the V60. The Chemex’s filters are slightly thicker than the V60’s and help a little with flow control.

Though it may take some extra time on the clock to master, the Chemex can produce a well rounded cup of coffee that brings out the subtle notes hidden in your coffee beans.


Alternatives to the Chemex

Though it is the oldest, the Chemex isn’t the only drip pot coffee maker. If this coffee maker doesn’t yet have you convinced, take a look at some of the other options.

Three drip pot brewers you may want to consider instead of the Chemex are the Hario Woodneck, the GROSCHE and the Walkure.

The Hario Woodneck

The Hario Woodneck may look a lot like the Chemex, but it has one big difference. Unlike the Chemex, the Woodneck uses a thick cloth filter that hangs from a wooden handle.

This filter creates a full bodied coffee that is surprisingly clean, and though you can buy cloth filters for the Chemex, they aren’t quite the same.

The Woodneck is a little easier to use than the Chemex, but its filters require special storage that may be annoying to some.

If you want to take a closer look at the Hario Woodneck, click here.

The GROSCHE

You may think yourself lucky with two different style options for the Chemex, but the GROSCHE gives you three choices, each very different from the other. It follows the same basic shape of most drip pots, but with more allowance for personal expression.

The GROSCHE also uses a unique metal mesh filter which does a great job of filtering out fine particles while allowing oils to pass through.

It requires a tad more pour control than the Chemex, but can produce a flavorful coffee.

To check out the GROSCHE, click here.

The Walkure

If attractive design is the biggest box on your checklist, then the Walkure drip pots are worth a closer look. There are two different models, one is meant to look more classic, while the other more modern.

Each are 100% ceramic, including the filter, and produce a remarkably complex and clean cup of coffee. Each part of this drip pot was carefully thought out, and it is a great brewer for both the beginner and professional alike.

Click here if you want to take a peek at the Walkure drip pot models.


The Verdict

No other pour over brewer has been around as long as the Chemex coffee maker. Its timeless design has lasted not only because is it a pretty sight, but because the Chemex is also a damn fine brewer.

It is a flexible coffee maker that allows you to perfect each step of your process. With a range of different models to choose from and a number of different accessories, it allows you to tailor each brew to your specific tastes.

If my Chemex pour over review has you convinced, and think this classic is perfect for you, click here to check it out.

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