Despite what Gevalia and other company say in the descriptions of their coffeemakers, making coffee is not normally a sexy enterprise. It’s often just a pile of plastic and parts combined with a filter and a pre-set grouping of buttons with a digital readout.
Although your daily coffee needs are best satisfied by such an unattractive setup, why not make coffee on purpose sometimes taking the time to experience the roasting and really appreciate where the brew comes from.
The Chemex method is one of the best ways to do that.
Here’s a breakdown on the Chemex method straight from their website…
The Chemex® coffeemaker was invented by Peter J. Schlumbohm, Ph.D., in 1941. Schlumbohm was born in Kiel, Germany in 1896. He received his doctorate in Chemistry from the University of Berlin. After several trips to the United States, he settled in New York City in 1936. Over the years, he invented over 3,000 items for which he was granted patents. However, his coffeemaker and carafe kettles were his most long enduring inventions.
Being a doctor of Chemistry, he was very familiar with laboratory apparatus and the methods of filtration and extraction. He applied this knowledge when designing his coffeemaker. He examined his laboratory glass funnel and his Erlenmeyer flask and made modifications to each. He modified the laboratory funnel by adding an “air channel” and a pouring spout. He added the “air channel” so the air displaced by the liquid dripping into the vessel could easily escape past the laboratory filter paper, which was to be used in the funnel as the filter media.
To the well of the Erlenmeyer flask he added a protrusion, which looks like a bubble. Consumers have often called it a “belly button.” This is a measuring mark, which indicates one half the volume that is below the bottom edge of the handle.
He then combined the modified glass funnel with the modified Erlenmeyer flask to create a one-piece drip coffee maker to be made of heat proof, laboratory grade, borosilicate glass. Last, he added a wood handle and called the item a “Chemex®,” which was a fabricated name. All that was needed then to brew the coffee was the coffee, hot water, and filter paper.
Schlumbohm designed the water kettle, or carafe kettle, three years later. His goal was to create an attractive yet simple and fabulous vessel. Again he chose heatproof borosilicate glass as the material. He designed a boiling kettle which has no lid, but which is nevertheless almost completely enclosed. The “steam stopper” prevents the steam from coming into contact with the upper portion of the neck. Thus, this portion remains cool and is used as the handle.
Over the years, these items have been recognized as outstanding examples of American Design. In 1956, the coffeemaker was selected by the Illinois Institute of Technology as one of the best-designed items of modern times and it was the only coffeemaker so designated. The coffeemaker and the water kettle are in the permanent collections of museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian, the Philadelphia Museum and the Corning Museum located in Corning, NY. The coffeemaker completed a traveling exhibition tour of a number of countries in eastern Europe as part of the “United States Information Agency’s Design in America Exhibition.” In the fall of 1989, it toured with the “Design, USA” exhibition to the former USSR.