Okay, so Chemistry wasn’t my strong point in science at school, but maybe it’s because I didn’t have an appreciation for the subject like I have now, thanks to coffee. Chemex is where chemistry and coffee extraction come together best, and has made our job all the more sweeter.
When it comes to coffee brewing equipment we are incredibly spoilt for choice nowadays. I would like to recap on something I touched on briefly in a previous blog story.
Here are a few different Coffee Brewing Categories (using different methods of extraction):
Chemex falls into the drip category of coffee brewing. Here is an extract from Chemex’s website on the history of the method:
The Chemex® coffeemaker was invented by Peter J. Schlumbohm, Ph.D., in 1941. Schlumbohm was born in Kiel, Germany in 1896. He received his doctorate in Chemistry from the University of Berlin. After several trips to the United States, he settled in New York City in 1936. Over the years, he invented over 3,000 items for which he was granted patents. However, his coffeemaker and carafe kettles were his most long enduring inventions. Being a doctor of Chemistry, he was very familiar with laboratory apparatus and the methods of filtration and extraction. He applied this knowledge when designing his coffeemaker. He examined his laboratory glass funnel and his Erlenmeyer flask and made modifications to each. He modified the laboratory funnel by adding an “air channel” and a pouring spout. He added the air channel so the air displaced by the liquid dripping into the vessel could easily escape past the laboratory filter paper, which was to be used in the funnel as the filter media.
To the wall of the Erlenmeyer flask he added a protrusion, which looks like a bubble. Consumers have often called it a “belly button.” This is a measuring mark, which indicates one half the volume that is below the bottom edge of the handle. He then combined the modified glass funnel with the modified Erlenmeyer flask to create a one-piece drip coffee maker to be made of heat proof, laboratory grade, borosilicate glass. Last, he added a wood handle and called the item a “Chemex,” which was a fabricated name. All that was needed then to brew the coffee was the coffee, hot water, and filter paper.
Mr.Schlumbohm… we are forever grateful! We are loving this brewing method at Legado HQ, it produces a delightfully clean cup! We are finding lighter roasts to shine brightest in this method. The first time I heard about Chemex I honestly didn’t know what the person was talking about, and just nodded and smiled. But I am so glad that curiosity got the better of me, as it has become my favourite brewing method. As opposed to the eye-sore of the ever-faithful Aeropress, the Chemex is a beautifully designed brewer, even on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Some of our current coffees that work really well on this method are our Mexicans – Altura and Santa Teresa & our Kenyan Peaberry. We have documented the steps in the technique of Chemex brewing for your perusal. Happy Brewing!