Making coffee is all about extracting flavor from grounds. It sounds simple but every coffee-lover has a different favorite method for achieving the same result. Some enjoy the process and ritual involved with making a cup of coffee while others just prefer the ease of automatic drip.

Brad Kirby, Director of Coffee at our Raleigh roasting facility, prefers brewing coffee in a Chemex.

Invented in 1941 by Dr. Peter Schlumbohn this iconic pour-over coffeemaker is unchanged and remains popular today. A chemist, Schlumbohn studied and understood clearly the chemistry behind the extraction of flavor and caffeine from coffee beans. He was also a prolific inventor and had over 300 designs patented–everything from cocktail shakers to automobile–but Schlumbohn’s most lasting creation was definitely his coffee maker.

“I brew coffee in a Chemex at home,” Brad said. “Mainly because I can get two cups at once and it gives a little better representation of coffee flavor than others.”

The Chemex filter tends to give the coffee a clean flavor, Brad explains. “I also like the Chemex because the filter tends to give a clean coffee flavor. They are a little hard to not over-extract, however, to get the grind right so you can get 680 grams brewed within four minutes. That did take me a little tinkering to get down.”

The key is grinding the coffee correctly. “ If you grind a little too fine or your grinder’s not in good shape, the grounds will clump on the bottom. That first minute you won’t get a lot of drip out so you start to get over-extraction. It should be a four-minute pour. Most every guide I’ve read says four to five, but my research points toward four. I get the best flavor if I can hit four minutes.”

Schlumbohm’s focus was on making everyday objects more functional, attractive and enjoyable to use. When designing the Chemex, Schlumbohm’s goal was to not only make brewing the perfect cup simple, but also to have the vessel be a thing of beauty. A balance of form and function, his hourglass-shaped coffee maker is made simply from one piece of glass and adorned with a wooden collar and rawhide tie. Today, Schlumbohm’s coffee maker, which was inspired by the Bauhaus design school of design, is included in the permanent collection at Corning Museum of Glass and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Another interesting Chemex fact: In the 1957 novel From Russia With Love, James Bond brewed his coffee in an American Chemex. Said Ian Fleming, Bond “drank two large cups, black and without sugar.”

For more information about coffee brewing, please call 866 849 1682, email, or feel free to ask one of the baristas at your local Dilworth Coffee shop.