Chemex Coffeemaker

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A Chemex coffeemaker containing brewed coffee.

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][4]


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 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]

How to prepare a Chemex coffee

Coffee is brewed by first folding the paper filter into shape and placing it and the ground coffee into the neck of the flask. Hot water (93-96 °C/195-205 °F) is then poured through the coffee and filter, depositing brewed coffee into the flask.[7][8]

In popular culture[edit]

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.[9]

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

In the television comedy programme The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–77), the Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore) character has such a coffeemaker in the kitchen of her apartment. Similarly, a Chemex can be spotted on the stovetop in the pilot and several subsequent episodes of Friends (1994)[10]

A Chemex can be seen in Don Draper's kitchen in the AMC show Mad Men (2007–15).[11]

A Chemex can also be seen in the German movie Vor der Morgenröte, a biographic picture about Stefan Zweig.

A Chemex is seen in the Roman Polanski film Rosemary's Baby and is used by Dustin Hoffman's character in the breakfast scene of John and Mary, which also stars Mia Farrow.

A "Chemex type" coffee maker can be seen on Det. Charles Boyle's desk in Brooklyn 99 (2013), Season 1, Episode 12 "The Bet". He grinds 24g of "gorgeous new coffee beans" to the consistency of "Tunisian sand".

In Christopher Nolan's film Interstellar a Chemex is used as a water pitcher.[12]


  1. ^ "Dr. Peter Schlumbohm Dead; Inventor of Coffee Maker, 66; His Chemex Called One of 100 Best Modern Devices—300 Items Patented" The New York Times; November 07, 1962 [1]
  2. ^ "Chemex Coffee Makers" LA Times, Jan 8, 1989.
  3. ^ New York Times Nov 7, 1959
  4. ^
  5. ^ Science Daily
  6. ^ Design for the Real World, Victor Papanek
  7. ^ "Brewing 101 With CHEMEX®". Chemex® Corp. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  8. ^ "Chemex brewing guide". Flying Roasters. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  9. ^ Fleming, Ian (1957). From Russia, with Love. London: Jonathan Cape.
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^

External links[edit]

Media related to Chemex Coffeemaker at Wikimedia Commons