Can You Use Regular Filters in Chemex? Chemex Filter Alternatives and Replacements

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Everyone who has tasted coffee made in a Chemex swears that the brew tastes far better than coffee from other coffee machines. Unlike regular drip coffee, Chemex coffee is far less bitter and has no residue at the bottom of the cup.

The pure taste of Chemex coffee is 100% attributed to special Chemex filters made specifically to be used on a Chemex coffee maker. So, what happens when you use up your Chemex filters?

If you’re trying to figure out if regular coffee filters will work on a Chemex, here is your answer:

Yes, you can use regular filters on a Chemex. However, your brew will have a dull and papery taste.

Regular paper filters are made from lighter and lower-grade paper, allowing water to filter through quicker than Chemex filters. The quick filtration causes your coffee to under-extract, which is why your brew will have a dull taste. Additionally, these filters are prone to tearing. They break apart easily, and sometimes they drop coffee grounds into the carafe, muddying your coffee.

Why Chemex Filters Are Better Than Regular Coffee Filters.

Chemex filters are considerably heavier than regular coffee filters. They are made from laboratory-grade filter papers that are designed to remove even the finest sediment particles as well as unwanted oils and fats from your coffee.

The formulation of Chemex filters also allows for the proper steeping time of coffee grounds. It regulates the filtration rate giving your coffee a richer flavor while filtering out the components that make coffee bitter.

Additionally, the Chemex filter is folded into a cone shape, just like scientists do in the laboratory. The cone shape ensures the uniform extraction of coffee as the water passes through the grounds on its way to the cone’s apex.

Furthermore, Chemex filters do not burst under the weight of coffee grounds and water during filtration due to their heavy density. They also don’t break when lifting out the grounds after brewing your coffee.

Can You Reuse Chemex Filters?

The exclusive Chemex bonded paper filters are quite expensive; hence, coffee lovers often wonder whether they should reuse them instead of throwing them out.

I do not recommend reusing Chemex filters because they were particularly made for brewing one batch of coffee.

When you brew java, tiny particles and oils from the ground coffee will clog the Chemex filter. So, when you reuse your filter, water will pass through the coffee much slower, causing your coffee to over-extract. Even if you don’t mind the taste of over-extracted coffee, you cannot get away with continuously rinsing out the filter. Although Chemex filters are sturdy and thick, rinsing them out many times will make them rip.

If you desire to use a coffee filter more than once, look into some specifically designed for that purpose.

What Are Some Alternatives For Chemex Coffee Filters?

There are several alternative filter options that you can use as a substitute for Chemex filters. However, you should remember that the final cup of coffee you brew will not have the unique flavor brought out by the recommended Chemex filters.

Stainless steel reusable filters will give you full-bodied coffee closer to that brewed in a French press. On the downside, you will find some leftover sediment at the bottom of your carafe.

Cloth filters, on the other hand, will give you full-bodied coffee compared to Chemex but a bit lighter when compared to stainless steel filters. These filters are perfect for coffee lovers who want a more intricate flavor. It also leaves less leftover grounds in the carafe compared to the stainless steel alternative.

What Type of Coffee Should I Use In a Chemex?

Your coffee selection is flexible because brewing in a Chemex draws out most coffees’ best and unique flavors. Unlike other brewing methods, Chemex does not restrict you to a specific type of coffee. However, you can consider a few factors, many of which ultimately depend on your personal coffee preference. Some of these factors are mentioned below.

  • Grind size of coffee grounds.

The grind size of coffee beans is always important when it comes to brewing coffee. For Chemex, a medium or coarse grind will work best. When you grind your coffee, make sure that its consistency resembles the texture of sea salt.

You can also use a fine grind size if you prefer. However, given the thickness of Chemex filters, your coffee will take much longer to brew.

  • Roast level.

Unlike other drip methods of brewing coffee, Chemex can work well with coffee beans roasted at any level. It dulls the bitter flavors in dark roasted beans bringing out tastes that you normally wouldn’t experience. It also reduces the acidity that comes with lightly roasted coffee beans making the fruity flavors stand out.

Nevertheless, if you’re after a strong-tasting cup of coffee, you should try a dark French roast. The dark French roast is normally reserved for espresso; however, the Chemex will strip away the bitterness, leaving you with a strong brew without espresso’s added tartness.

  • Origin of the coffee

Since Chemex brings out the individual flavor in coffee, I recommend using coffees with some Unique or nuanced flavors. I particularly advocate using single-origin coffees when using this brew method. However, some blended coffees also have equally subtle flavors that come out just as well in a Chemex. Below is a list of some of my favorite single-origin and blended coffees for Chemex.

  • Colombian coffees are reasonably light and well-balanced. They are also a bit acidic with good fruity undertones. So if you like your coffee to have a fruity flavor, this is the coffee I recommend.

  • Ethiopian coffee will be perfect for your Chemex coffee maker if you prefer citrus and Spice flavors.

  • Indonesian coffee has dried fruit tones and nutty flavors. It also leaves a sweet aftertaste that remains fully after each sip.

  • Peruvian coffee is an excellent choice when brewing with a Chemex. Peru produces coffee with subtle flavors that really stand out when brewed in this coffee maker. They have nutty and chocolaty undertones along with a unique citrus flavor. If you want a strongly flavored drink, consider a dark roast from Peru. Since this type of coffee has so many flavors, you might notice something new with every sip you take.


If you run out of Chemex filter papers or feel like replacing them all the time puts a dent in your pocket, do not worry.

You can use the alternatives mentioned above to ensure that you get your daily dose of caffeine. However, remember that these substitutes will bring out a slight difference in the taste of your coffee.


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