Chemex Coffeemaker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Chemex Coffeemaker; designer: Peter Schlumbohm, 1941; Brooklyn Museum.

The Chemex Coffeemaker is a manual pour-over style glass coffeemaker, invented by Peter Schlumbohm in 1941, manufactured by the Chemex Corporation in Chicopee, Massachusetts.

In 1958, designers at the Illinois Institute of Technology said that the Chemex Coffeemaker is "one of the best-designed products of modern times" and it is included in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.[1][2][3]


A Chemex coffeemaker brewing coffee using the typical 'half moon' filters.

The Chemex coffeemaker consists of an hourglass-shaped glass flask with a conical funnel-like neck and proprietary filters, made of bonded paper, that are thicker than the standard paper filters used for a drip coffeemaker. The thicker paper of the Chemex filters removes most of the coffee oils and makes coffee that is much "cleaner" than coffee brewed in other coffee-making systems. The "cleaner" cup extracts caffeine and flavor while removing bitter notes.[4] The thicker filters may also assist in removing more cafestol, a cholesterol-elevating compound found in coffee.[5]

The most visually distinctive feature of the Chemex is the heatproof wooden collar around the neck, which allows it to be easily handled and poured when full of hot coffee. The collar is turned and then split in two to allow it to fit around the glass neck. The two pieces are held loosely in place by a tied leather thong. For a design piece that became popular post-war at a time of Modernism and precision manufacture, this juxtaposition of natural wood and the organic nature of a hand-tied knot with the laboratory nature of glassware was a distinctive feature of its appearance.[6]

Brewing coffee[edit]

Coffee is brewed by first folding the paper filter into shape by using the folded side with a printed number 3, where the pour spout is located and placing it into the neck of the flask. The Chemex filter should be rinsed with hot water to remove any paper taste. After dumping the water, ground coffee is added to the rinsed paper filter. The coarse grind will resemble kosher salt for the best flavor.[7] Hot water (93-96 °C/195-205 °F) is then poured through the coffee and filter, depositing brewed coffee into the flask.[8][9][4] There is a spout located on the top half of the brewer. This allows for easily pouring out coffee post brew and ensures airflow while brewing.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

A Chemex coffeemaker "unfolded half moon" filter (right) together with a regular #4 coffee filter (left)

In the 1954 romance movie Sabrina, a Chemex Coffeemaker can be seen in the corner of "Linus"'s bar in his office.

In spy literature, film, and television, the Chemex coffeemaker has appeared in the novel From Russia, with Love (1957), by Ian Fleming, who describes "James Bond", when in London, brewing his breakfast coffee with a Chemex, using coffee bought from the De Bry's shop in New Oxford Street.[10]

Chemex Coffeemakers can be seen in the respective kitchens of "Rosemary" and "Guy Woodshouse", in the 1968 Roman Polanski film, Rosemary's Baby, and "Michael", in the 1970 film The Boys in the Band.

In the television programme The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–77), the "Mary Richards" character has such a coffeemaker in the kitchen of her apartment.

A Chemex can be spotted on the stove top in the pilot and several subsequent episodes of Friends (1994).

A Chemex can be seen in "Don Draper"'s kitchen in the AMC show Mad Men.[11] In Christopher Nolan's film Interstellar a Chemex is used as a water pitcher.[12]

In the 1959 film "Pillow Talk" starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson, Jan Morrow (Doris Day) is in her kitchen pouring coffee from a Chemex Coffeemaker, which sits prominently on her stovetop.

The 1965 film The Satan Bug features a Chemex used by Ed Asner in the outdoor poolside scene. In the 1966 Detective film "Harper" Paul Newman is seen brewing his morning coffee using a Chemex.


  1. ^ "Dr. Peter Schlumbohm Dead; Inventor of Coffee Maker, 66; His Chemex Called One of 100 Best Modern Devices-- 300 Items Patented Tolled Amid Gadgets". Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  2. ^ "Food News: Coffee Puts Wife to Test". The New York Times. 1959-11-07. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  3. ^ "The Collection | MoMA". The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved 2020-05-09.
  4. ^ a b c Dupuy, Jessica (2016-02-23). "Iconic Design: The Chemex Brewer". Imbibe Magazine. Retrieved 2019-10-06.
  5. ^ "How Coffee Raises Cholesterol". ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  6. ^ Papanek, Victor J. (1995). The green imperative : natural design for the real world. Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27846-6. OCLC 318233505.
  7. ^ "How to Make the Perfect Coffee with the Chemex". Sep 26, 2018. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  8. ^ "Brewing 101 With CHEMEX®". Chemex® Corp. Archived from the original on 6 January 2015. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Chemex brewing guide". Flying Roasters. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  10. ^ Fleming, Ian (11 July 2017). From Russia, With Love. ISBN 978-1-78720-649-6. OCLC 1054092196.
  11. ^ "Don Draper's kitchen". Archived from the original on 2014-11-12. Retrieved 2014-10-20.
  12. ^ "r/cafe - Chemex used as a pitcher in Interstellar". reddit. Retrieved May 9, 2020.

External links[edit]