How I fell in love with the Chemex

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Pouring with a Chemex
“Chemex coffee pouring” by Olgierd Rudak (CC-BY)

It was a quiet Wednesday in Houston when I ventured to a small coffee shop in the Montrose area near my workplace. The barista asked if I was in a hurry, to which I replied, “Not at all!” – And I am so glad I wasn’t. He shot me a smile as he introduced me to the wonders of the a new coffee maker. It was a strange brewer that resembled a flower pot. He meticulously went through the process of brewing my coffee in the foreign contraption. As I was presented with the cup of warm, aromatic coffee, the barista mentioned it was brewed using a Chemex. I smiled and took the first sip of what would be my favorite method of brewing. Now, I exclusively use a Chemex to brew coffee when I am at home. The combination of bold, strong flavor and an enjoyable brewing process has left me consistently fulfilled by my morning joe.

My love for Chemex coffee comes from a combination of aspects. The best way I can describe the sensation is through my senses. The taste, scent, look, and feel of the coffee is incredible. Each is part of the whole experience of Chemex brewed coffee. I am going to bring you with me on the adventure of a cup of this great brew.

Look

As the coffee finishes dripping through the coarse grounds, you can see the even darkness throughout the brew. It is dark, but not cloudy. The whole blackness seems just right. The dark coffee perfectly contrasts the wooden collar used to handle the clear glass pot. A brown leather tie drapes down to give the dark coffee the distinctive black color we expect from our coffee. The curved base of the Chemex cradles the freshly brewed liquid elegantly. As a self-contained brewer and server, few other methods can outshine the the look of the Chemex.

Feel

The coffee, of course, is warm – but that isn’t what gives the Chemex its feel. The act of brewing gives each user the feel that this is their creation. The pour over brewing method has been perfected by the Chemex. Each step is simple, but thoughtful. You can feel and see your coffee being brewed as your slowly pour hot water over the roast coffee grounds. The brewing process is involved and takes a few minutes, letting the anticipation of the cup grow inside you. You feel the water in the pourer disappear as you let the last stream drop onto the grounds. As the process complete, there is a feeling of a small accomplishment. You just made coffee. You just made great coffee.

Scent

The look and feel are only the beginning of the Chemex experience. As your water drips through the filter, you begin to smell the deep, pure aroma of your coffee. The freshness of this method becomes apparent as you reach the end of the brewing process. The filter is removed and the rich scent of the coffee escapes into the air. The room fills with the bold aroma and relaxes you. You pour the coffee into your mug and lift it to your lips. The intimate distance between the coffee and you yields an even strong scent. You can close your eyes and almost taste the coffee with your nose. It smells whole. It smells fresh. It smells clean. It smell just like coffee should always smell.

Taste

You test the warmth of the coffee by letting a small stream enter your lips. You realize there is a lack of bitterness most other brewing methods seem to have. You take another sip. There is an absence of sediment you are used to in a cup of coffee. You feel confident it is the right temperature, so you take a deeper gulp. You close your eyes and let the smooth flavor excite your taste buds. You can let out a smile as you evaluate your palate. There is a distinct cleanness the Chemex offers without a loss of full flavored taste. The brew is bold and strong, but remains a low-acidity. It is almost like a cup of water in terms of consistency, but holds onto the taste gathered from the fresh grounds. You let out a breathe and complete your journey. Each taste remains the same. Strong. Bold. Clean. The only thing more you’ll want is one last sip after you finish.

The journey of a fresh cup of Chemex coffee is one I have every morning. It has consistently provided me with incredible pure and full flavored coffee that I haven’t experienced from other methods. The people at Chemex say the flavor is from the unbleached filter, but I am no chemist, so I have no idea how it actually makes such amazing coffee. The only thing I know is I don’t plan on changing methods soon. So, get out there and find a place that serves Chemex coffee – I promise you won’t regret it.

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