It’s an adage as old as time itself: a clean Chemex is a happy Chemex. And while we all regularly give our brewing devices a good rinse—right? RIGHT?!—there are perhaps some who have never experienced the sheer joy of returning their faithful Chemex to its out-of-the-box glory via a deep and cleansing scrub. Luckily for them (and not you who definitely keeps your brewer tip top), it’s incredibly easy to clean Schlumbohm's magnum opus without natural items you probably have lying around the house.
Here’s what you need
White vinegar (apple cider vinegar or lemon juice have roughly the same acid content and will do just as well)
To demonstrate the cleaning power two to three (depending on how deep of a cleaning your brewer needs) simple ingredients can have, I needed to find a very dirty Chemex. Of course mine is pristine, so I had to borrow one from my good friend and most disgusting person I know, Jon, whose love of clean coffees is only eclipsed by some sort of fetishistic obsession with filthy brewing equipment.
Just look at that thing. Disgusting. What kind of animal would allow this to happen?
For this Herculean exorcising of the dirt demons (the gunkubus, as it were), a two-step cleaning was in order. For more routine maintenance, either of the two steps will be sufficient. For starters, make a 50/50 mix of hot water and white vinegar, about a half cup each will do the trick. Add the mixture to your Chemex and swirl it around a bit. You’ll already start to notice some of the grime starting to come loose. After that, get in there with the scrub brush and put a little elbow grease into it. Once you’ve gotten rid of as much of the gunk as you can, dump out the contents and give the brewer a quick rinse under the faucet. If this is where you cleaning routine ends, give your brewer multiple rinses, until you can no longer smell any vinegar.
Now, the Chemex, while shapely, can be difficult to clean; it’s hard to get the brush into all the nooks and crannies (what is that little dimple near the bottom even for and why does it have to be so damn hard to scrub?). For a good, deep cleaning in all those hard-to-reach spots a little baking soda is in order. To your Chemex add a 1:3 mixture of baking soda to hot water, making sure to swirl it all around to help dissolve the baking soda. Then get back in there with that scrub brush. At this point you’re going to start to see the sparkle return to your coffee brewer. Feel free to enjoy that little joy. After scrubbing off all remaining schmutz, give your brewer a few rinses under the faucet to remove any traces of baking soda.
Soup to nuts the entire process should take you no more than five minutes. You could also skip straight to the baking soda step without any issues, but I find the entire process a bit therapeutic, so I like to do both vinegar and baking soda. It’s good for the soul.
And voila! Behold the majesty. Have you ever seen such a glow up?
With you Chemex now immaculate, you can return to your brewing your hyper-clean coffees girded with the knowledge that the brew you are drinking only consists of coffee you made this cycle. Not Jon though. He’s not getting his Chemex back. It’s going into some witness protection program to ensure no one ever hurts it like this ever again.