What size chemex should i get?

Are you in the market for a Chemex coffee maker, but not sure which size to get? That’s understandable. There are so many sizes to choose from!

I have done the research to find the answer to what the optimal Chemex coffee maker size is.

So, which is the right size Chemex coffee maker to get? Of course, which size Chemex to get is a matter of personal preference. But, the most common choice of Chemex enthusiasts is either the 6-cup or 8-cup model. These are large enough to accommodate making coffee for a group of friends but small enough to make coffee for one or two people.

That’s the short answer. 

Ready to pick your Chemex? Click here to check prices and availability on Amazon.

The long answer deserves a bit more explanation because the Chemex comes in a lot of different versions. These not only differ in size. They are also different in the way they are made, what material the handle is made of, and the prices are different too. 

Let’s take a look.

A Chemex coffee maker with a gooseneck kettle

Which sizes does the Chemex coffee maker come in?

The Chemex coffee maker is made in three different versions, each in a variety of sizes. There is the Classic Chemex, the one we all know with the wooden handle. Next is the version with a glass instead of a wooden handle (more on that in the next section). And finally, Chemex makes a premium handblown version, with a wooden handle. 

Classic Chemex

The Classic Chemex is made of non-porous Borosilicate glass. This means it can handle sudden changes in temperature without breaking, cracking, or even exploding. Pretty handy when you are dealing with boiling hot water. The handle, or collar, is made from wood ‘tied’ to the Chemex with a rawhide leather strap.

It comes in four sizes. A 3-cup, 6-cup, 8-cup, and 10-cup model. The difference between the 6-cup, 8-cup, and 10-cup model is the size of the ‘belly’ of the Chemex. I.e., the bottom part is wider, so it can hold more coffee. 

The 3-cup model is, of course, smaller but also has a cone (top part) with a different angle. The angle of the cone in a pour-over coffee maker (which the Chemex is) influences the way the water saturates the ground coffee and the speed at which it flows through the bed of coffee grounds. 

In other words, a difference in the angle of the cone impacts the taste of the coffee.

That’s not to say that the coffee from a 3-cup Chemex is bad. It’s just that making coffee with a 3-cup model is different. This and the small size, preventing you from making coffee for more than two people, is the reason most people don’t choose the 3-cup model. But, if you only ever make coffee for yourself and maybe one other person, it is perfect.

Handblown Chemex

The handblown Chemex models are, what’s in a name, handblown in small batches. Being handblown means that they are all slightly different. And because hand made products are considered better in some ways than mass-produced products, they are pricier. In fact, a handblown Chemex coffee maker costs about twice as much as a classic Chemex.

But they are beautiful. I’ll give them that. 

Here’s a nice video on how the handblown Chemex is made:

Which sizes does the Chemex coffee maker come in?

Let’s talk about sizes. You might expect the handblown Chemex to come in the same sizes as the classic Chemex. But you would be wrong. The handblown Chemex comes in a 3-cup and 8-cup model, just as the classic Chemex. But instead of a 6-cup and a 10-cup model, the handblown version comes in a 5-cup and a 13-cup model. 

Why? We honestly don’t know. So, we asked Chemex. Here’s what they said:

"These sizes (especially the handblown ones) were originally implemented by the inventor in the 1940's. We don't have specific information regarding the reason for those differences in sizes but generally speaking, the original inventor most likely wanted different sizes so customers would have options.

Chemex has kept these original sizes to stay true to the designs and patented original inventions."

Chemex Customer Service Representative

It appears sizing for the different versions of the Chemex was a decision made by its inventor. Inventor and chemist Peter Schlumbohm developed the Chemex in the early 1940’s. The current owners of the Chemex company apparently have stayed faithful to the decisions he made back then. 

To make things a bit clearer, check out the table below for an overview of the different Chemex coffee maker versions and sizes:

Classic Chemex versionCapacity Imperial (US)Capacity MetricGlass handle ChemexCapacity Imperial (US)Capacity MetricHand blown ChemexCapacity Imperial (US)Capacity Metric
3-cup1 pint473 ml3-cup1 pint473 ml3-cup1 pint473 ml
6-cup30 ounce887 ml6-cup30 ounce887 ml5-cup25 ounce739 ml
8-cup40 ounce1,182 ml8-cup40 ounce1,182 ml8-cup40 ounce1,182 ml
10-cup50 ounce1,479 ml10-cup50 ounce1,479 ml13-cup65 ounce1,922 ml

Chemex: glass handle vs. wooden handle

When you’re choosing between the non-handblown versions of the Chemex coffee maker, you have another decision to make. Do you want a classic wooden collar or a glass handle?

The wooden collar is there to protect your hands when picking up the Chemex to pour that delicious java. Because the glass comes into contact with hot water, it will become too hot to handle. The glass handle serves the same purpose. Although it is also glass, it won’t become hot. 

The advantage of a glass handle is that it makes the Chemex dishwasher safe. To keep your classic Chemex clean, it is best to rinse or quickly handwash is immediately after use. The glass handled Chemex can be put in the dishwasher for some easy, thorough cleaning.

Do you want super easy to clean and dishwasher safe, or do you prefer the classic beauty of the original Chemex? The choice is yours. 

Can you brew one cup of coffee in a large (e.g., 10-cup) Chemex?

Yes, you can. No problem. The only thing with brewing small amounts of coffee in a large-sized Chemex is that you have more heat loss during the brewing process. When the hot water comes in contact with the cold glass, it will cool. Brewing with colder water can impact the flavor of the final cup of coffee. Too cold, and your coffee will taste sour. One way to prevent the water from cooling too much is to rinse your Chemex with hot water right before brewing. 

Heat retention is mentioned as one of the reasons people generally choose a 6-cup or 8-cup Chemex. You can still brew coffee for a couple of people, but there isn’t as much heat loss as with a 10-cup model.

So, unless you make coffee for more than four people (in modern sized mugs) most of the time, a smaller Chemex would be advisable. 

To sum up: which size Chemex is best?

There is a lot of information here, but hopefully, you got that a 6-cup or 8-cup Chemex is the best size Chemex to buy for most people

As for choosing between a glass handle or a wooden collar, think: what’s important to me? Looks? Or convenience? If it is the first choose the classic Chemex, if it is the latter, choose the glass handle Chemex.

Whether to choose a handblown or mass-produced Chemex… look inside your wallet 😊

Are you ready to pick the right size Chemex for you? Click here to check current prices and availability on Amazon.

When you are interested in how to make the best coffee with your Chemex, please consider checking out our Chemex brew guide.

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