The best coffee beans for Chemex are your favorite beans. Chemex makes all coffee beautiful. If you do not yet have a favorite bean, here are some you should try out. These beans are specifically selected to work with a Chemex’s strengths.
Chemex brings out the best flavors from single origin beans, honoring their distinct differences. By trying a variety of single origin coffees, you can tour the world from your own kitchen. Each will be distinct and different in flavor and presentation.
In This Guide:
- What Is a Chemex and How Does It Work?
- How to Select the Best Beans
- Regions and Growing Conditions
- Brand and Bean Recommendations Especially for the Chemex
What Is a Chemex and How Does It Work?
Chemex is the original pour over coffee maker. It was invented in a science lab by Dr. Peter Schlumbohm in 1941. Made of borosilicate glass, the same as labware, it is designed to step completely out of the way of the flavors naturally found in the coffee bean.
A very clean cup of coffee is Chemex’s hallmark. The thick, folded filter removes any grit before it gets into your coffee. The filter may also remove some flavor, and you can buy a stainless steel filter for the Chemex that lets more flavor through.
Chemex draws out the complex scents and flavors from the beans. It will make any decent coffee taste great. But it really shines in bringing out the distinct flavors of unique beans.
There is a learning curve with a Chemex, you have to learn how to best pour the water into the coffee maker, stopping and starting the pour when needed. However, once you have the pour down, it will become second nature.
How to Select the Best Beans
Getting the most out of your Chemex requires you pay great attention to the coffee beans you buy. First, I will give you some characteristics to look for. Second, I will recommend some specific beans.
With Chemex choose a medium to fine grind. This grind is 5.5 – 6 mm, about the size of coarse sea salt. If your coffee tastes sour, go coarser and if the flavor is weak, grind a little finer.
Chemex works best with a medium or light roast. A light roast keeps all the interesting flavors from the bean. It brings out a fruity and floral side to coffee that may surprise you in its complexity.
The maker is not best designed for darker roasts. If you love some bitterness, a Chemex can bring out a new set of flavors from the dark chocolate roasts.
Generally, 30 g of coffee works with 500 ml of water. You can experiment around this mark if you think more or less coffee will better match your palate.
Regions and Growing Conditions
The region matters less than the individual farm the beans come from. You want to select beans from a small farm where farmers grow them with care and pick up the terroir from their location. However, here are four regions where you can start looking for a coffee to match your taste.
Ethiopian coffees are sweet, fruity, and flowery. A Chemex will lift out notes of jasmine, honey, and citrus. These coffees have a medium acidity and a very light body with no bitterness.
Guatemalan coffees have strong flavors that are made more intense by the Chemex. They have high acidity which produces a bright flavor. They feature notes of burnt caramel, spice, chocolate, flowers, and nuts.
Costa Rican coffees are the standard against which you can judge good coffees. They have a sweet taste with medium acid. Notes of chocolate, flowers, nuts, honey, and mild fruit create the classic coffee taste.
Every Peruvian coffee is different. We know them best for providing a complex web of subtle flavors that a Chemex brings out. In general, they are nutty and chocolatey with a nice hit of citrus.
Brand and Bean Recommendations Especially for the Chemex
Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Coffee by Volcanica Coffee
My top pick to try in your Chemex is an Ethiopian coffee. Yirgacheffes are sweet coffees with a light to medium body. These Arabica beans stand up to the best coffees in the world (like Hawaiian Kona and Jamaican Blue Mountain).
Volcanica’s Yirgacheffe is sourced from a group of small farms. All these farms are at a single location with 5,4000 – 5,900-foot elevations and the beans are shade grown in volcanic ash. It is organic, fair trade, and kosher.
This coffee tastes like blackberry wine. (And, besides coffee, blackberry wine is one of my favorite drinks.) It is sweet, floral, and provides a range of berry tastes. In a Chemex, these flavors brighten taking on hints of lemon and lavender to make a truly complex and satisfying coffee. If you are looking for chocolate and smoke flavors, go elsewhere
Café Britt Costa Rican Tres Rios Valdivia Coffee
Café Britt specializes in coffee from Costa Rica, both growing and roasting their coffees there. The Valdivia Coffee is from the Tres Rios region, known for growing some of the best coffees in the world.
A family operation, Café Britt takes care to be sustainable for the environment, and also for their people. This coffee boasts being carbon neutral. With the coffee shade grown on high mountains and sun dried, they live up to their claims.
This Arabica coffee has a medium light roast with a spicy, sweet flavor. The Chemex brings out more specific flavors of allspice, orange, and plum, tasting a bit like a sweet chutney.
Java Planet Guatemala Organic
Java Planet gets the beans for this coffee from a single Guatemalan family farm. This fair-trade coffee is shade-grown and intercropped with guava, plantain, and banana trees. It excels in its low acidity, which makes it drinkable by people with sensitive stomachs.
Guatemala Organic is a medium roast that shines with the classic chocolate and caramel flavors of coffee. The Chemex makes its clean taste really shine, bringing out a fruity edge to its quintessential coffee flavor.
Peet’s Coffee Single Origin Brazil
Peet’s Coffee is sold across the United States. If you have problems finding the others, this one may be sitting at your local grocery store. It comes from the Minas Gerais region of Brazil, which is south central and in the Amazon Rainforest.
This single-origin coffee is roasted to medium to bring out the smooth, round, and balanced flavors. In a Chemex it becomes positively luscious, and tastes of milk chocolate, hazelnut, and sweet fruit emerge from the bean.
Cooper’s Kenya AA Single Origin Medium Dark Roast
While Chemex excels on light and medium roasts, I know some of you are my fellow dark roast fans. Cooper’s Cask Coffee is a family business form East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Their AA Single Origin from Kenya is a medium-dark roast. (I wouldn’t go darker in a Chemex.)
The bean is the Bourbon varietal of Kenya AA. It’s roasted medium-dark to bring out the bittersweet chocolate and tart dark cherry tastes. A Chemex lets out the taste of a honey and molasses cookie and brings out more dark fruit notes.
This coffee was designed for a French Press. However, if you buy a stainless-steel filter for the Chemex it tastes even better. The metal filter lets some of the oils through because these oils create part of the flavor and mouthfeel of darker roasted coffees.