If you’re a fan of iced coffee on a hot day (like I am), you’ll be excited to hear that you can use the Chemex to make iced coffee easier and faster than most cold brew methods. Best of all, it still delivers the full range of delicious flavors you expect from a Chemex brew.
Read on as I share all the equipment and steps required to make this easy, but delicious beverage.
Table of Contents
What is Chemex Iced Coffee?
Chemex iced coffee (also called Japanese iced coffee) is a specialty twist on the classic iced coffee we’ve been drinking for decades. As you can expect by the name, this method originated in Japan, which has a thriving specialty coffee scene.
The interesting part that makes this method unique is that you brew coffee directly onto ice through a Chemex, so you’re locking in the flavors that you’ve grown to love from a Chemex.
I love this Chemex iced coffee recipe because it is simple, and the brew maintains the full range of flavors without requiring the long steeping periods that cold brew calls for. It is relatively easy to follow, takes about 5 minutes to make, and yields approximately 600 grams of delicious Japanese iced coffee, which is about 2 servings (3 if you’re feeling generous).
I first heard about Japanese iced coffee from a friend who visited a café during a trip to Japan, and tried it the same day. I always experiment with different brewing methods and techniques, and this recipe is one of my favorites for making refreshing iced coffee, especially if I don’t have any cold-brew in the fridge.
Equipment and Ingredients for Chemex Iced Coffee
What you’ll need for this iced coffee recipe:
- Chemex Brewer – The iconic glass construction of the Chemex carafe is a key element to producing the smooth flavors you’ve grown to love in iced coffee.
- Chemex Filter – Chemex filters are renowned for their thickness and ability to properly extract oils and acids from coffee beans while eliminating the bad stuff.
- Coffee Grinder (preferably a burr grinder) – With a burr grinder, you can expect consistent sizes, which will help you achieve the best flavor profiles with Chemex.
- Digital Scale – Accuracy is often overlooked by many, but when you follow accurate measurements, you won’t have any trouble with your brew’s consistency.
- Kettle – Having a good electric kettle can make or break your brew. It should be able to heat water precisely up to just below boiling point – around 200°F (93°C).
- 340g of ice cubes – Ice is essential to cool down the hot coffee to avoid over-extraction, which leads to bitter notes.
- 40g coffee beans: medium-to-dark roast coffee beans are best for this recipe, since these roast profiles produce more robust coffee, which tastes richer when iced. Here are my favorite coffee beans for Chemex.
- 300g of filtered water
Now that you’ve gathered all the necessary equipment and ingredients, let’s move on to the actual procedure of making iced coffee with a Chemex.
Step-by-Step Guide to Brewing Chemex Iced Coffee
Here are the steps to making this drink.
1. Prepare the Chemex, filter, and ice
- Fold your Chemex filter and rinse it using cold tap water. Unlike hot coffee, there is no need to preheat the decanter.
- Discard the used water and place 340g ice cubes at the bottom to cool down the coffee as it brews. Fill the carafe according to your preferred serving size.
2. Measure and grind 40g coffee beans
- Use a digital scale to measure 40g of medium-dark roasted coffee beans.
- Grind them just a bit finer than the standard Chemex grind size, since we want to extract more flavors due to the iced cooling in the carafe.
3. Heat 300g water
- You’re now ready to fill up your kettle. Heat the to water right below the boiling point, which is 200°F. If you don’t have an electric kettle, boil some water, and leave it to cool down for a minute.
- Get your timer ready for this step.
- Saturate the ground coffee with about 100g of brewing water, making sure all grounds are evenly moistened.
- Allow for at least 30 seconds of blooming or until the bubbles stop.
- After the bloom, pour hot water over the grinds in 50g increments in concentric circles, slowly and carefully. This extends the brew time and ensures proper extraction.
- This should be done about four times, with the fourth pour bringing the total brew weight to around 600 grams.
- You should have achieved full saturation before adding more water until you have the needed volume.
- If everything goes well, your total brewing time should be around 4:30-5:00 minutes.
6. Swirl before serving.
- Once you’re done brewing, remove the paper filter and get rid of the used coffee grounds.
- Next, swirl your brew until all remaining ice melts off, ensuring the brew is evenly mixed.
Now for the final and most crucial step: serve over ice, and you’re ready to savor this refreshing drink to beat off the summer heat.
Barista Tips for Making Great Iced Coffee with Your Chemex
Through loads of trial and error, I think my brew tastes awesome. Full of flavor and nuances that make specialty coffee so enjoyable.
Here are some important things I learned along the way.
- Try Different Coffee-to-Water Ratios: While a 1:15 ratio (one gram of coffee per 15 grams of water) is the recommended golden ratio, don’t be afraid to adjust it as you see fit. Have fun experimenting until you find the best one that satisfies your taste buds.
- Use Freshly Roasted Beans: By now, you’re already quite familiar with the importance of your choice of coffee beans for the Chemex and how their freshness affects the coffee’s flavor profiles. Thankfully, a fresh roast doesn’t have the same limited time window as a fresh grind. A fresh grind should be used within 15 minutes of grinding, but you have between 2-4 weeks to use your freshly roasted beans.
- Add More Flavors: When plain iced coffee isn’t cutting it, you can add flavors like vanilla or cinnamon to make something extra special.
- Don’t Forget the Water:
- When making iced coffee (or any coffee really) with your Chemex, water quality greatly impacts the taste.
- As a general rule, avoid making coffee with tap water. It contains minerals and chemicals like chlorine or fluoride, which adversely affect your coffee’s subtle flavors. In fact, specialty coffee is never made with tap water.
- Tap water can still work as long as you have an effective filter system in place.
- Make Coffee Ice Cubes: If you’re worried about ice possibly diluting your coffee too much, worry not. Ice cubes made from coffee can be your remedy. It’s simple: pour any leftover coffee brew into ice trays and freeze overnight for next-day use.
As someone who enjoys a good old cup of cold coffee on hot days, I was blown away by the unique taste and quality that Chemex brewing can bring to this beloved drink.
With just a few simple steps and some essential equipment, you too, can brew coffee that suits your palate. I also loved how each step can be tweaked as you like and end up with something uniquely yours.
Did my Chemex iced coffee recipe help on a hot summer day? Please let me know in the comments below.