Chemex Is The Classic Pour-Over Coffee Maker That Experts Love

It's a time-honored essential for straightforward and great-tasting coffee, and it starts at under $40.
Made from chip-resistant borosilicate glass, the Chemex pour-over coffee maker can be refrigerated for reheating coffee without losing flavor.
Made from chip-resistant borosilicate glass, the Chemex pour-over coffee maker can be refrigerated for reheating coffee without losing flavor.

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In a caffeinated world filled to the brim with automated coffee makers and fancy brewing gizmos, sometimes the simplest of tools are the way to go — especially tools with a time-honored reputation endorsed by coffee aficionados and everyday coffee-lovers alike.

The Chemex pour-over coffee maker is one well-regarded brewer and carafe that has utilized a classic and beautifully functioning manual design for decades and is recommended by Jordan G.L. Hardin, director of food and beverage at Alfred Coffee, and Sumi Ali, co-founder of Yes Plz Coffee.

Referenced by Hardin as a “perennial” choice for pour-over coffee preparation, the Chemex can be used to nurture enhanced and nuanced flavors from every type of roast, and is not just for coffee, either, but also for teas.

First made in 1941 by a German chemist, its minimalist design has remained virtually untouched and is even in the permanent collection of the The Museum of Modern Art. It’s made from a non-porous borosilicate glass that won’t absorb odors or residues, is dishwasher-safe and can be refrigerated for storing and reheating leftover coffee, without the coffee’s losing flavor. This means it can be a great option for making cold brew.

This space-conscious coffee maker, which comes in a few different capacity options, features a designated pour spout to create the proper air channel and a beautiful wooden collar to make the Chemex safe to hold even when contents are hot. It also conveniently uses compostable natural paper filters that the brand claims ensure uniform extraction and remove undesirable elements from grounds.

Hardin explained a bit about how the pour-over brewing process works: “The paper filter goes in, hot water gets heated in a kettle (I always recommend the gooseneck Fellow Stagg EKG) and is poured over the ground coffee. From there, it’s really about pouring technique; how long you ‘bloom’ the coffee (release the gases), what pouring pattern you’re using, [how] quickly you pour and how much water, etc.”

He said that there are several videos available to help users learn more about this method and how to customize a perfect-tasting brew.

This isn’t the first time we’ve sung Chemex’s praises. In 2013, former HuffPost reporter and self-proclaimed “coffee nerd” Rebecca Orchant wrote about her personal experience with the display-worthy vessel. According to Orchant, a daily coffee drinker who, until that point, had exclusively used a French press, the Chemex was even less complicated to use, and made a delicious, almost flawless cup of coffee every time.

“Because you are pouring hot water over the grounds, coffee from a Chemex can never be over-brewed,” Orchant wrote, adding that one of the things she loves most about the brewing system is how clean it is.

“With a French press, the mesh collects microscopic coffee grounds on each use. With a Chemex, you lift the grounds out with the filter, so they never even touch the carafe, which makes it an absolute breeze to clean,” she said.

If you feel like you’ve been missing out on the Chemex and all its effortless and artful functionality, make up for lost time and grab yourself one from any of the above retailers in a variety of sizes.

Promising Amazon reviews:

“We use our Chemex pour over pitcher every single day. While there are many pour over options available out there, this one suits our needs perfectly. The glass is well-tempered and can withstand some accidental bumps and clinks without chipping. The wood wrap is also essential to not burn your hands when holding and pouring. Cleaning is fairly simple. We use a gentle sponge to scrub inside the base and swirl some warm water and dish soap in the rinse. There’s been no issues with residue or staining. We use the Chemex filters with this and we always get a perfect tasting cup of coffee. Granted, this does take a little longer than a traditional coffee or automatic maker, but it’s worth the taste difference. We grind our own beans and use fresh water from our home filtration system. The result is smooth, high quality, delicious coffee. If there’s some leftover, I will place a tea towel over the top to keep it warm. My partner was never a big coffee drinker, but he has now become a pro at making this too and enjoys it just as much as I do. This pitcher will pay you back over and over for the initial cost and is worth every cent for the investment.” — A Singing Wolf

″Although it was designed in 1941, Chemex coffee pots remain the simplest, most easy to use coffee maker on the market. And the high-quality Chemex filters allow you to ‘espresso’ grind without tears or grounds in the pot... I like my coffee strong and I like the fine grind that creates all the flavor I’m looking for as the water quickly passes through the grounds. The improvement in coffee flavor is incredible. Strong, smooth and no bitterness. It’s easy to clean, once a week I put a couple tablespoons of vinegar in and fill it with hot water to let it soak. That helps remove any kind of coffee residue. About once a month I shake a little bit of Bon Ami into the bottom of the pot, add water, add a paper towel and use a wooden spoon to swirl off any build up. It’s an easy, two-minute operation and the results are like new, and sparkling! Easy to wipe the exterior to a sparkle too!” — Catherine Metzger, Founder, Food for the Ages (This review was edited for length. Read the full review.)

“I am a huge coffee snob. I am a self professed coffee lover and I drink my coffee black, so I know good coffee. This is the best way I have found yet to make a cup of coffee. I have tried the Nespresso, the automated pour over system, and drip coffee, but this Chemex reduces the bitterness and leaves you with smooth coffee. I love it! I also love that there is never any build up. You never have to descale it. You can just hand wash it. I put mine in the dishwasher after removing the wooden neck piece and it did just fine! I love love love it! would order again 10/10.” — Alyssa

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