It looks like a chemical laboratory installation element, James Bond makes his coffee in it and Illinois Institute of Technology (USA) considered it as „one of the best designed modern times items”. What is it? It’s a Chemex coffee maker!
Glass jug with top widening neck and wooden handle fastened with a leather strap – a very simple, yet so charming and timeless device, that New York city’s Musem of Modern Art presents it at the permanent exhibition. Chemex was designed in 1941 by dr Peter Schlumbohm and is produced in a small Chicopee city in state of Massachusetts by Chemex Corporation till this day.
Chemex is a pour-over style coffeemaker – it doesn’t use pressure (like Bialetti percolator and AeroPress do). It’s so called „drip”, which means a method where water flows through grinded coffee placed in the filter and liquify into the container. Using the appropriately grinded coffee and good paper filter, make the water „collect” only the best properties of the coffee and under the influence of gravity flows down to the container from where it can be poured into cups.
How to use a Chemex coffee maker?
- Put the paper filter into the top side of Chemex. Boil water and pour it through the filter. This will get rid of papery taste and heat the jug, so the coffee won’t cool down by touching with cold glass. Repeal the filter a bit and pour the water out.
- Grind your coffee! Of course you can use pre-grinded coffee, but I always recommend investing into your own coffee grinder. Using fresh grinded coffee gives the coffee at least +50% quality and taste. Grinding for Chemex shouldn’t be either too fine (like for pressure coffee maker) or too coarse (e.g. for French Press). After a few tries, you will find the ideal grinding level.
- Put the coffee into the filter and pour with water (it shouldn’t be scalding, so wait half a minute after the boiling). Pour the water so it barely covers grinded coffee. Wait a moment and slowly add more water. This can take a while, you shouldn’y hurry.
- At the end take the filter out and pour the coffee into cups/glasses/mugs. All done!
- How much coffee? How much water? It’s always hard for me to answer these questions. Everyone has their own taste. Coffee from Chemex is quite delicate, so someone who likes stronger „black” coffee should use more coffee and less water. I think that in the case of coffee/water proportions, everyone should experiment and find what they like best.
Produced since 1970s, Chemex has become an icon in modern books and movies. Ian Fleming, the author of James Bond novels, in his book called „From Russia, with Love” describes agent 007 making a coffee with the use of Chemex. Chemex is also used by Rosemary from Roman Polański’s movie „Rosemary’s Baby”, Don Draper from popular tv series „Mad Men” and I also noticed that it was used in last years blockbuster „Interstellar” and I can see it everyday in my kitchen and I sincerely recommend you to buy one!