Chemex Coffee Maker Review and Why We Ditched Our Plastic Coffee Machine
All of a sudden there was a coffee kick in this house, which meant our single cup Keurig coffee machine was rendered insufficient. Much time disappeared researching "the best" coffee maker. What we found did not make picking out a replacement very easy.
Why we ditched our regular coffee machine:
I usually disregard Prop 65 warnings. However, when it comes to items that are in contact with the food I consume, I do take note. If a coffee maker has this warning, I have to know why. The reason? Almost every automatic coffee maker has plastic components. While that may seem like no big deal, keep reading. The plastic parts of a coffee machine include a water reservoir, funnel, water piping, and sprayers. These are parts that should never be touching boiling hot water. Why? Heat speeds up the release of chemicals in plastic. Piping hot water is funneled through these plastic components, and you end up consuming the toxic run off. I could no longer enjoy a cup of coffee from my Keurig with this information floating in my mind.
My husband and I wanted to find THE BEST setup for making coffee that did not involve any plastic. Unfortunately, the only automatic maker we could find that truly was not made with a single plastic part is a commercial BUNN like you see at restaurants. Since I cannot consume 12 cups of coffee at a time and don’t want to feel like a Denny’s waitress, this was not a viable option. Some machines were better than others, but ultimately each one had plastic components in direct contact with boiling hot water. One manufacturer claims to have a machine with just one supposedly healthier medical grade plastic part in direct contact with hot water. Although this machine seemed to be a good solution, the price ended up being far too high for us to justify buying. There are coffee makers that are completely BPA free, but you can forget these ones altogether. Research shows that the alternative plastics used are just as harmful. (The whole “BPA free” claim is a gimmick to make you feel better while companies use equally toxic plastics instead.)
All truly plastic free coffee makers are hands on and require some work to produce coffee. There was a decision to be made. Do we knowingly purchase a machine that makes our coffee at the push of a button at the expense of our health? Or, do we wake up a little earlier and put some effort into brewing better coffee?
In favor of our health, a Chemex coffee maker was purchased. Chemex sells natural unbleached filters which we bought as well. (Unbleached filters are important to use if your goal is a healthier cup of coffee.) Our second choice for making coffee was a french press, however, unfiltered coffee contains oils. These oils are believed to contribute to high cholesterol. We would have wanted to run the coffee through a filter anyways, so the Chemex just made sense.
What is a Chemex and how does it work?
Made with all natural elements, this coffee maker is pretty simple. The unique wooden handle comes in a variety of colors, and keeps you from burning your hands when the non-porous Borosilicate glass is hot. The hourglass design includes a nifty inner channel to funnel the coffee neatly into a cup.
I had no clue how to use this thing when it showed up. I was used to putting some grounds in a reusable K-cup and pushing a button. The process of making coffee is pretty simple, but time consuming and finicky:
Fold and place filter.
Add the appropriate amount of grounds.
Heat the proper ratio of water for your grounds in a kettle on the stove top to between 195-200 degrees. (Use a thermometer to be precise on this temperature, as too hot of water will scald the grounds and leave a bitter taste.)
Prime the grounds. (Pour just enough water over the grounds to get them wet, then let sit for 1 minute.)
Continue adding water.
Let the water completely filter through the grounds.
Remove the filter.
Pour coffee into a cup.
Is a Chemex worth it?
The coffee is stronger/ tastes less bitter.
It produces healthier coffee. (No chemicals leached into your drink.)
A Chemex is more aesthetically pleasing and takes less space on the countertop than a traditional coffee machine.
It is easy to clean.
You can also make tea and iced coffee in it.
It takes much longer to make a cup of coffee.
A Chemex maker is not as easy as pressing a button on a machine.
Making sure the water is the right temperature so it doesn’t scald the grounds is a pain in the ass.
The coffee cools quickly as it brews.
Additional equipment is needed to heat the water. (kettle/pot and thermometer)
The Bottom Line.
We decided that our health is worth the extra time and hassle. I am pleased with how nice the Chemex looks sitting on my countertop compared to a bulky machine. I find it a neat way to make and serve coffee, and it is definitely a talking point with guests. The maker is incredibly easy to clean, as a dish brush fits through to the bottom reservoir. The wooden handle is actually two pieces and comes apart for cleanup. (I do not feel the need to completely wash it every time I make coffee. It is easy enough to rinse out and reuse.) Coffee made in the Chemex is far more flavorful, and thus motivates me to get out of bed.
I find it incredibly satisfying being hands on making my coffee knowing that I am drinking the healthiest cup of coffee possible. I highly recommend ditching your plastic coffee maker, and buying a Chemex.