Best grind size for Chemex coffee brewing

Matty Victor

So you’ve got yourself a Chemex and you’re ready to venture into the world of manual coffee brewing. But hold on a sec, there’s one crucial aspect you need to master to achieve that perfect cup of joe—grinding your beans to just the right size. Finding the ideal grind for your Chemex can be a bit perplexing, but fear not! In this article, we’re going to break it down in plain ol’ relaxed English to help you understand the nitty-gritty of coffee grinding for your trusty Chemex brewer. So grab a seat, make yourself comfortable, and let’s dive into the captivating realm of grind sizes, one sip at a time.


Coffee lovers around the world understand the importance of grinding coffee beans to achieve the perfect cup. In the realm of coffee brewing methods, the Chemex stands as a favorite for many, known for its clean and flavorful results. However, one crucial aspect that often gets overlooked is the fineness of the coffee grounds used in the brewing process. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of how fine to grind coffee for a Chemex, exploring what it is, why it matters, and how to achieve the optimal grind size for this beloved brewing method.

What is Grinding Coffee?

Grinding coffee refers to the process of breaking down whole coffee beans into smaller, more manageable particles. This enables the extraction of flavors and aroma during the brewing process, ultimately resulting in a delicious cup of joe. The grind size determines the rate at which water interacts with the coffee, affecting the overall taste and strength of the brew.

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Why Does Grind Size Matter for Chemex?

The Chemex brewing method relies on a combination of immersion and pour-over techniques, utilizing a thick paper filter to produce a clean and crisp cup of coffee. The ideal grind size plays a crucial role in achieving the desired extraction and balance of flavors. Here’s why grind size matters:

1. Extraction Efficiency

The size of the coffee particles directly influences the extraction process. Finer grinds have a larger surface area, allowing for quicker extraction and robust flavors. Coarser grinds, on the other hand, require more time for extraction, resulting in a milder cup. Finding the right balance ensures optimal extraction efficiency for your Chemex brew.

2. Avoiding Over/Under Extraction

If the grind size is too fine, the water may have difficulty passing through the coffee bed, leading to over-extraction. This can result in a bitter and overpowering brew. Conversely, using a grind that is too coarse may lead to under-extraction, resulting in a weak and lackluster cup. Identifying the ideal grind size helps achieve a well-balanced extraction, bringing out the best flavors and subtle nuances in your coffee.

3. Filter Functionality

The Chemex’s thick paper filter is designed to remove any sediment or oils from the coffee, yielding a clean and visually appealing brew. The grind size affects how well the filter performs its function. Too fine, and the filter may clog, causing slow draining and potential flavor issues. Too coarse, and the filter may allow unwanted particles to pass through, compromising the brew’s clarity. Understanding the appropriate grind size ensures optimal filter functionality.

How to Grind Coffee for Chemex: Step-by-Step Guide

Now that we understand the importance of grind size when brewing coffee with a Chemex, let’s explore how to achieve the perfect grind:

Step 1: Start with Whole Beans

For the freshest and most flavorful brew, always begin with whole coffee beans. Select beans that align with your taste preferences and roast level of choice.

Step 2: Invest in a Quality Burr Grinder

A burr grinder is essential for achieving consistent and uniform grind sizes. Unlike blade grinders, which can produce uneven particles, burr grinders crush the beans, resulting in more precise control over the grind size. Consider investing in a burr grinder for optimal results.

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Step 3: Experiment with Grind Sizes

As grind size preferences vary among individuals, it’s crucial to experiment to find your desired balance. Start with a medium grind size and make adjustments from there. Remember to document your settings for future reference.

Step 4: Observe the Water Flow

During the brewing process, carefully observe the rate at which water flows through the coffee bed. If the water flows too quickly, consider a finer grind size. If it flows too slowly, try a coarser grind.

Step 5: Tweak and Refine

Through experimentation and careful observation, continue to tweak and refine your grind size until you achieve the perfect cup of coffee. Remember, each bean and roast will require slight adjustments, so don’t be afraid to adapt accordingly.

Differentiating the Grind Sizes

To further understand the impact of grind sizes for Chemex brewing, let’s explore the different categories:

Grind Size Description
Extra Fine Similar to powdered sugar. Best suited for Turkish coffee.
Fine Similar to table salt. Ideal for espresso machines and Moka pots.
Medium Resembles granulated sugar. Suitable for pour-over methods like Chemex.
Coarse Similar to coarse sea salt. Ideal for French press and cold brew.
Extra Coarse Similar to breadcrumbs. Often used in cold brew setups with extended steeping times.

Tips for Grinding Coffee for Chemex

Here are some additional tips to enhance your Chemex coffee brewing experience:

1. Use Freshly Roasted Beans

The quality and freshness of the coffee beans significantly impact the final cup. Opt for freshly roasted beans and store them properly to preserve their flavors.

2. Grind Just Before Brewing

To maximize freshness and aroma, grind your coffee beans just before starting the brewing process. This ensures that the flavors are captured at their peak.

3. Maintain Consistency

Consistency is key when grinding coffee for Chemex. Aim for a uniform size to ensure even extraction and optimal flavors.

4. Avoid Overfilling the Chemex

For the best results, avoid overfilling the Chemex with coffee grounds. This allows sufficient space for water to interact with the coffee bed during the brewing process.

5. Experiment with Ratios

The coffee-to-water ratio plays a vital role in achieving the desired strength and flavors. Experiment with different ratios to find your perfect balance.


Grinding coffee for a Chemex is a nuanced art, requiring careful attention to the grind size and its impact on flavors and extraction. By understanding the role of grind size, experimenting with different settings, and observing the water flow, you can unlock the full potential of your Chemex brewing experience. Remember, each cup is an opportunity to refine and personalize your coffee journey. Embrace the artistry, savor the flavors, and enjoy the daily ritual of brewing with precision.

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question 1: Why is the grind size important when brewing coffee with a Chemex?

Grind size plays a crucial role in the flavor extraction process when brewing coffee with a Chemex. The Chemex is a pour-over brewing method that requires a medium-coarse grind size. If the coffee is ground too fine, it can result in over-extraction, leading to bitter and astringent flavors. On the other hand, if the grind is too coarse, under-extraction may occur, resulting in a weak and watery brew lacking depth and complexity. Therefore, achieving the right grind size is essential to create a balanced and delicious cup of coffee using a Chemex.

Question 2: What grind size should I use for a Chemex?

For a Chemex, a medium-coarse grind size is recommended. This means that the coffee grounds should be slightly finer than what you would typically use for a French press but coarser than what you would use for a drip coffee machine. The grind size should resemble coarse sea salt or sand texture. This particular grind size allows water to flow through the coffee grounds evenly, extracting the desired flavors without over or under-extraction.

Question 3: Can I use pre-ground coffee for a Chemex?

While using pre-ground coffee is convenient, it is generally not recommended for brewing with a Chemex. Pre-ground coffee loses its freshness and aroma quickly, resulting in a subpar cup of coffee. It is best to grind your coffee beans just before brewing to maximize the flavor and aroma. However, if using pre-ground coffee is your only option, ensure that it is ground to the appropriate medium-coarse grind size for a Chemex to achieve a decent brew.

Question 4: How can I adjust the grind size to improve my Chemex brew?

If you find that your Chemex brew is consistently over-extracted or under-extracted, you may need to adjust the grind size. If the coffee tastes bitter and unpleasant, try using a coarser grind size to reduce the extraction time. Conversely, if the coffee tastes weak and lacks complexity, use a slightly finer grind size to increase the extraction. It may require some experimentation to find the perfect grind size for your specific taste preferences, so don’t be afraid to adjust and fine-tune until you achieve the desired results.

Question 5: Should I invest in a coffee grinder for my Chemex?

Investing in a good quality coffee grinder is highly recommended for brewing coffee with a Chemex. Grinding your coffee beans just before brewing ensures maximum freshness and flavor extraction. Furthermore, having control over the grind size allows you to fine-tune your brew and achieve consistent results. Manual burr grinders are often favored for Chemex brewing, as they offer precise and adjustable settings to achieve the desired medium-coarse grind. However, if a coffee grinder is not currently within your budget, consider purchasing pre-ground coffee and ensuring it is ground to the appropriate medium-coarse size specifically for a Chemex.

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Matty Victor

An expert in tasting the nuances of coffee. often talks about the different flavors of coffee from different regions of the world "The taste of coffee is an endless journey."


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