Deciding on the right size Chemex coffee maker can be a difficult process, but one that can be made easier once you know what to look out for.
There are a few different sizes, which all work by using the same process. However, they are designed to produce different amounts of coffee, so the amount of coffee you drink on a day-to-day basis should come into your decision-making process.
However, you should consider more than just the amount of coffee you drink when choosing the size of your Chemex coffee maker. Our size guide will give you a detailed introduction to Chemex as a brewing method while also detailing what you should look out for when choosing the right size Chemex brewer for your home.
The History of The Chemex Coffee Maker
The history of the Chemex coffee maker goes back to 1941 when German Dr. Peter Schlumbohm wanted to create a brewing machine that didn’t just function well but also one that looked great.
Noted as an eccentric chemist, biographers of Schlumbohm have stated that he “desired to not only make brewing the perfect cup simple, but also to have the vessel be a thing of beauty.”
His scientific background gave him the knowledge of how to extract complex flavors from coffee beans with double-bonded paper filters. At the same time, the design of the carafe was inspired by his interactions with the Bauhaus School of Design.
Design author Ralph Caplan described the invention as “a synthesis of logic and madness”, adding that the Chemex was “one of the few modern designs for which one can feel affection as well as admiration.”
Design of the Chemex Coffee Maker
We were talking about Schlumbohm’s design in the previous section before realizing that we haven’t actually gone into what a Chemex coffee maker actually looks like.
The traditional Chemex coffee maker is a brewing device that is fashioned in the shape of an hourglass. It is made from one piece of non-porous borosilicate glass, with a wooden collar and rawhide tie. This collar is designed to act as a handle for the user.
The Museum of Modern Art list it as one of their best-designed products of the 40s.
What Makes Chemex Coffee Special
Before we get into what size brewing device is ideal for you, let’s look at what makes the Chemex coffee maker so special, aside from its innovative design.
Let’s start with the all-glass carafe, which protects the brewing process. Unlike with other brewing methods, there are no additional flavors coming from plastics or metals.
When compared to other pour-over coffee-making methods, Chemex filters stand tall. Generally speaking, most pour-over coffee filters are not dissimilar to the thin, circular filters used in drip coffee makers.
However, Chemex filters (which can only be distributed by the Chemex company) are made with double-bonded thick material. The difference between these two filters is in the final cup, with the toughness of the Chemex filters removing almost all of the oil and sediments from your morning cup of coffee. Because of the above differences, Chemex-produced coffee is considered one of the cleanest cups of coffee out there.
What Size Chemex Is Right For Me?
Now you know why Chemex brewed coffee is amongst the best coffee you can get. Thus, we can now dip into the different sizes of the coffee maker that are out there. The size of Chemex brewers available are as follows:
This is the smallest Chemex size and is typically used to brew about 16 ounces of coffee. It’s mobile and doesn’t take up a lot of space in the kitchen and is, therefore, a good choice for people who live on their own or in smaller houses or apartments.
As the name suggests, the 6-Cup Chemex is around double the size of the 3-Cup, with this one making around 30 ounces of coffee. If you are living in a home where there are two or three of you who want a morning cup of coffee, this could be an excellent option for you. This is the most popular size, according to the Chemex website.
The 8-Cup Chemex is the standard option for this coffee maker. It has a capacity of 40 ounces and works great in bigger households or ones where there are at least three coffee friends! The author of this article has this size and thinks that it’s a brilliant option as it’s not overly big, while at the same time a great choice for when friends are visiting.
The 10-Cup isn’t as popular as the last three sizes we have listed, but it’s a good option for a workplace or if you are holding an event. It has a capacity of 50 ounces, which will make you over 10 cups of coffee.
The 13-Cup Chemex is the least popular option and one that’s not ideal for most homes. That is because you may not even have a kettle big enough to boil the amount of water needed for this option. It makes about 65 ounces of coffee, which is far more liquid than a one-liter kettle can hold.
Other Factors To Consider When Choosing A Chemex Coffee Maker
Size isn’t the only element you have to consider when choosing a Chemex coffee maker. There are several other factors that come into place other than the cup size of the device.
Classic, Handblown, or Glass Handle
The Classic Chemex consists of a classic design made from borosilicate glass, which is highly durable during temperature changes. The classic series also has a wood collar, which allows you to pick it up when it has hot water within it. This acts as a wooden handle when you are pouring the coffee from the Chemex brewer.
The leather tie is another feature of the classic series, but it isn’t always a part of the customized Chemex designs.
A more expensive option is a handblown Chemex. They are also made from borosilicate glass, but as the name suggests, made individually or in small batches. Because of the nature of handblown glass, this option is less uniform in shape and they can have other variations too, such as different types of collars.
You can also buy a glass handle Chemex, which is an alternative option to the collared variety and can be lifted in a similar fashion to a French Press. It is available on Amazon and can be viewed here. Whichever cup version and design you go for, you will be getting a beautiful coffee maker that makes great coffee.
It probably goes without saying, but you will need a kettle large enough to boil the amount of water needed to use your Chemex coffee maker. For instance, if you purchase the 10-cup Chemex, but only have a 1-liter (33.8 oz) kettle, then you won’t have enough warm water to use the device.
Of course, you can boil the kettle twice, but it does seem like an unnecessary complication when making coffee. That is especially true when you consider that you can just purchase a suitably-sized Chemex or use a larger kettle instead.
Type of Coffee
If you are an inexperienced coffee maker rather than a seasoned barista, then getting the best out of your Chemex might take some time. You will need to grind your coffee into the ideal coarseness and experiment with brewing time (4 minutes is normally ideal) or choose the best pre-ground coffee for a Chemex.
Before you consider Chemex sizes, you should also consider the type of coffee you enjoy most. If your ideal cup is a complex black coffee, then a Chemex is a good option. However, if you prefer an espresso, a cappuccino, or a latte, then you should consider other coffee makers.
The Right Size Chemex For You
While most people prefer the 6-cup or 8-cup Chemex, the right option for you simply depends on your own circumstances. Whatever your personal preference, you should know that you’re getting a beautiful piece of design that can also provide you with a perfect cup of coffee.
It’s amazing to think that this pour-over coffee maker was created over 80 years ago by a man who wanted to insert style and functionality into the coffee-making space. We think that Schlumbohm succeeded in doing so, and the fact his creation is used by coffee drinkers worldwide suggests that the public does too.