- The Chemex is a unique and popular device in the coffee brewing world.
- The 6-cup and 8-cup are the best Chemex sizes for most households.
- Design, kettle size, and coffee ground coarseness are the three main factors to consider when choosing a Chemex size.
- If you’re trying to choose between a handblown or classic Chemex. Go with the classic; if you’re looking for an all-glass alternative that’s easier to carry around and clean, go with the glass handle variation.
In the coffee brewing world, few devices come close to the unique look and function of a Chemex.
The German invention of 1941 has come a long way since its tea-making days and has become one of the most widely beloved brewing tools among coffee connoisseurs worldwide.
However, when shopping for a new Chemex, the broad range of numbers and sizes to choose from can seem overwhelming – after all, how do you decide on the right one for you?
The best Chemex sizes for most households are the 6-cup and the 8-cup. The device also comes in a 3-cup, 10-cup, and 13-cup format. The 3-cup is the smallest size and ideal if you’re always brewing for one. The 10 and 13 can be too big for an average household but perfect when brewing for a crowd.
- Use CHEMEX Bonded Filters FP-1, FC-100, FS-100, FSU-100
In this article, you’ll find all the information you need to choose the right Chemex size for your needs.
Keep reading to learn more about the most important factors to consider when selecting a Chemex.
I’ll also teach you more about the Chemex sizing options and how to make the best-informed decision that fits your needs and wants.
Factors to consider when choosing a Chemex size
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer when choosing the right Chemex size for you.
Even though a few models are more popular than the others, there are still several factors you’ll want to take into account when purchasing to ensure you’re getting the most out of your investment.
Here are three essential factors to consider when choosing a Chemex size:
- Kettle size
- Coffee ground coarseness
Each of these elements plays a crucial role in the functionality of a specific Chemex size. Therefore, before expanding on the various size options more in-depth, I will first take you through these three decision-making factors.
A Chemex’s design doesn’t only impact its aesthetics, but it will also affect its functionality as well.
Each model includes different materials, features, and slight shape differences. As a result, there might be some pricing differences between them.
Therefore, if you’re trying to better understand whether that pricey handblown Chemex is worth the investment or if you’re better off opting for a classic design, read on to learn more about each alternative’s features.
Classic Chemexes have historically consisted of Borosilicate glass. This highly durable material is renowned for handling extreme temperature changes with little to no effect on its structural integrity.
While most types of glass expand and shrink upon encountering excessively hot or cold temperatures, the Borosilicate variety contains boron trioxide, which gives it a remarkably low coefficient of thermal expansion.
You can only imagine how handy this quality can be when dealing with scorching hot water daily.
In addition, a classic Chemex collar is made of wood, making it easier to pick the container up and use it as necessary:
Due to their overall shape and design, these models don’t usually come in the 13-cup variety, meaning you’ll likely only find four possible sizing options when out shopping for one.
While the 6, 8, and 10-cup formats share more similarities, the 3-cup cone features a different angle altogether, which is something to consider if you’re after a specific look, experience, or even taste (the angle of the cone can affect the taste of your coffee).
The nature of this design is pretty self-explanatory. These models are created by hand, being blown in small batches.
As a result, their shape and size will be slightly less consistent from one Chemex to another.
However, since they’re handmade, they usually provide a better feel and overall aesthetic than their classic counterparts, which is a quality that many coffee connoisseurs can appreciate.
As you can imagine, this comes at an added price. A hand-blown Chemex can usually set you back hundreds of dollars, more than double what you’d have to pay for the classic variety.
Therefore, if you’re looking to buy your first Chemex, I’d recommend opting for the reliable classic to get a better idea of how you feel about the equipment and the quality of coffee it brews.
However, if you’re an avid coffee enthusiast willing to pay a premium for that personal touch in a Chemex, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t splurge on a hand-blown model.
Glass handle Chemex
Remember how I mentioned that a classic Chemex features a rustic wooden handle? If you’re looking for an all-glass alternative that’s easier to carry around and clean, I’ve got just the option for you.
A glass-handle Chemex features an elegant yet functional design with a beautifully curved handle.
While you won’t find the same polished wood collar and leather tie, the glass handle variation will make a gorgeous addition to your kitchen counter.
Given that, in this instance, the material needs to be more insulating to keep your fingers from getting burned, you’ll notice that glass handle Chemexes are usually thicker and heavier than their classic and handblown counterparts.
However, these models are still easier to carry around because they expose your hands to far fewer potential burns.
Moreover, they’re generally easier to clean and care for since you won’t need to disassemble them before cleaning.
Tip: Check out this article to see five different ways to clean your Chemex!
As a result, it’s safe to say that if you’re planning on brewing for a crowd, glass handle Chemexes might be a better choice.
However, if you’re living in a relatively small household, this type of Chemex might be too bulky for what you’re going to use it for.
We can stand here all day discussing what Chemex size makes the most functional and aesthetically pleasing addition to your kitchen. However, if your ideal choice is incompatible with your kettle, it can even be rendered useless. Here’s why.
If you’re looking to brew for a larger number of people and have decided on a 10-cup Chemex, but you only have a 1-liter (33.8 oz) kettle to heat your water in, the amount of liquid you’ll be able to add to your brewing device won’t be enough.
As a result, you’ll have to empty the kettle and warm some more water again, making the whole process far more complicated than it needs to be.
Therefore, before spending all your time thinking about what Chemex size would fit your needs, style, or kitchen best, put practicality first and consider which one would match your existing kettle size.
Coffee ground coarseness
If you’ve got an incredibly tight schedule in the morning, you already know that timing is everything.
Generally speaking, you’ll want the water to get through your coffee grinds in less than four minutes.
However, depending on your coffee’s coarseness, you’ll need to negotiate with your water volume to get your coffee made in time.
This element might take a bit of adjustment and experimenting to get right. Remember that coarser grounds will require a higher amount of water to release their flavoring and aroma within the required 4-minute mark.
You can check out this complete guide to brewing coffee with the Chemex if you’re interested in learning more about it.
Even though I’ve briefly mentioned all Chemex sizes in the previous sections, I figured they required their own dedicated portion if you’re looking to base your purchasing decision on them.
In the following paragraphs, I’ll exclude the 13-cup option from consideration, as most of the time, it’s impractical for the average household and challenging to find.
These are some of the most popular Chemex sizes and what you need to know about them:
- 3-cup: The 3-cup is the smallest Chemex size. It typically brews one or two servings of coffee (16 ounces or 473 ml), making it ideal for those living alone who don’t want to take up most of their counter space with a bulky Chemex.
- 6-cup: This variety has a capacity of 30 ounces (887 ml), making it an excellent choice for households of 2-3 people.
- 8-cup: The 8-cup is the standard Chemex size, as it’s the most practical and popular among coffee-consuming households. Its capacity of 40 ounces (1.2 liters) can translate into 6-8 cups.
- 10-cup: Although a less popular variation, this size is excellent for larger households. The 10-cup model has a capacity of 50 ounces (almost 1.5 liters), which can make 10+ cups of coffee.
What size Chemex should I buy?
You should usually buy either a 6-cup or an 8-cup size Chemex. The 6-cup makes 2-3 cups of coffee at a time, while the 8-cup can make 6-8. If you’re brewing for one, you should buy the 3-cup version. However, if you want to brew ten or more cups of coffee at a time, go for the 10-cup option.
So, you’ll need to think about how much coffee you and your household will drink when you decide.
You may also need to factor in how much real estate you have on your kitchen counter since the larger Chemex sizes can take up valuable space. Have a look at the table below to see the best options again:
- Use CHEMEX Bonded Filters FP-1, FC-100, FS-100, FSU-100
The right Chemex size for your needs will depend on the amount of coffee you want to brew, the design you prefer, the size of your kettle, and the coarseness of your coffee grounds.
The most popular Chemex sizes are the 6-cup and the 8-cup, as they can produce 2-8 cups of coffee, an ideal amount for the average household.
Once you’ve decided which Chemex size fits you, check out this article to see the best coffee beans for Chemex.
And if you’d like to try out some delicious coffee recipes that can be made with your Chemex, have a look below!