The Absolute Top 7 Best Coffee Beans for Chemex in 2021 Reviewed

Let me guess, you bought a Chemex, brewed some run-of-the-mill coffee and it tasted terrible, right?

If that’s the case, don’t be discouraged. First, making coffee in a Chemex has a steep learning curve. But it’s like riding a bicycle. Once you learn, it’s hard to mess up. Second, using supermarket coffee, in other words, coffee that’s not organic or single-origin will likely result in one of two extremes: either burnt-tasting or bitter/acidic sludge.

We poured over tons of research on the best beans for Chemex and chose our top 7 based on quality, taste and sustainability.

Let’s check them out!

Top Coffee Beans for Chemex - The 7 Best

Chemex is a fickle brewing method. You need the right grind, the right pouring method, and the right coffee. Start with the coffee and perfect your technique along the way.

Peet's Coffee Single Origin Brazil

Peet's Coffee Single Origin Brazil

  • Region: Brazil (Minas Gerais)
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Whole bean, Ground (1 lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: sweet, nutty, fruity
  • Certifications: Unknown

Peet’s Coffee has come across our radar on many occasions. What surprised us was that Peet’s is sold in select grocery stores, and some coffee connoisseurs tout it as the best grocery store, whole bean coffee. If you see Peet’s in your local supermarket, it’s worth trying.

We chose Peet’s single-origin Brazil as our #1 coffee for several reasons. Namely, it’s grown in the Minas Gerais region of Brazil, famous for its flavorful, full-bodied coffee. Interestingly, Minas Gerais is not only the biggest producer of coffee in Brazil, but it also produces the most milk. What a treat it would be to live there — the best coffee and the best milk in one place.

Peet’s Brazilian beans have sweet, nutty notes that create an unforgettable experience with every cup. It’s medium-roasted and sold in whole bean and ground form. Pre-ground coffee isn’t as bad as most people claim — the most important thing to remember is that it has to be super-fresh.

We recommend trying this coffee in whole bean form or ordering through Peet’s website, where you get your choice of grind. Peet hand-roasts all its beans and packages immediately after roasting to lock in the flavors.

Volcanica Colombian Supremo Coffee

Volcanica Colombian Supremo Coffee

  • Region: Colombia (Bucaramanga)
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Whole bean, Ground (1 lb, 3-pack of 1 lb, and 5 lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: sweet, chocolate
  • Certifications: Fair Trade, Kosher, Rainforest Alliance

Volcanica is another brand we’ve reviewed before. It’s famous for being the only coffee brand that sources from volcanic regions of the world. Their Colombian Supremo is a smooth, slightly sweet/acidic coffee with subtle flavor notes that will remind you of caramel and chocolate.

Our #2 top coffee for Chemex is grown in volcanic ash in a single-origin plantation at altitudes of 5,400-5,900 ft. It’s shade-grown, carefully harvested and medium-roasted to preserve the crop-to-cup flavor experience. Colombian Supremo is available in whole bean and ground form. Luckily, the one sold on Amazon is a nice medium-coarse grind, perfect for Chemex.

The coffee beans are washed and dried on location by a small group of farmers. Volcanica takes pride in sustainably sourcing their coffee to ensure both the local population and the person that ends up drinking the coffee do not expose themselves to harmful chemicals.

If you’ve never tried Colombian coffee before, give this a try in your Chemex. It has the perfect characteristics — smooth, clean-tasting and full-flavored. Other Volcanica coffees would also work for Chemex, like their Ethiopian coffee, for example.

La Amistad Coffee by Little River Roasting

La Amistad Coffee by Little River Roasting

  • Region: Costa Rica (La Amistad Estate)
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Whole bean, Ground (1 lbь 2 lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: sweet, chocolate, citrus
  • Certifications: Unknown

Little River Crossing is a small coffee roasting company that sells a variety of coffee from around the world. We chose their Costa Rican La Amistad as our #3 because of its overall quality. It has a blend of flavor notes ranging from sweet, chocolaty to fruity with a citrus twist.

La Amistad is the estate (plantation) where the coffee is grown. The estate is close to the Panamanian border, nestled in the La Amistad Rainforest Reserve. We also liked that Little River takes a no-nonsense approach to sustainability. Their farmers practice smart farming, cutting down on their carbon footprint. The description states that the coffee is 100% Organically Grown. However, keep in mind that this does not mean it’s Certified Organic. From what we can tell by how the coffee farms operate, there shouldn’t be any concern over chemicals.

After picking only the ripest beans, the coffee is medium-roasted. When you first brew it, you’ll be surprised by the body — it’s almost syrupy in texture. The coffee has a medium acidity and has a pleasant balance of flavors.

Roasted in micro-batches and shipped on order. We recommend this Costa Rican coffee for both coffee snobs and novice Chemex enthusiasts.

Café Britt’s Tres Rios

Café Britt’s Tres Rios

  • Region: Costa Rica (Tres Ríos)
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Whole bean, Ground (12 oz, 3-pack of 12 oz bags)
  • Flavor notes: sweet, spicy, fruity, citrus
  • Certifications: Kosher

The first thing you’ll notice is the bright, colorful packaging. Once you read the label (which is in Spanish and English), you’ll feel even more confident about this single-origin coffee.

Café Britt’s 100% Arabica is a good coffee for Chemex because of its unique flavor profile. It has spicy, fruity, citrusy flavor notes and a sweet aroma that will entice you to drink more. These beans are big, and once you pop the bag open, the scent will flood your senses with intense coffee smells.

Tres Ríos is a region in Costa Rica that has high mountains. Most coffee is grown between 3,900-5,400 ft. The area has rich soils, ideal for coffee growing, and lots of rainfall, which, as it turns out, coffee plants love.

This coffee is available in whole bean and ground form and is sold in individual 12 oz bags as well as 3-pack 12 oz bags. We love companies that offer variety, and Café Britt hits the nail on the head — they provide different coffees in variety packs, so you can try each one out with your Chemex. Who knows, maybe you’ll like all three!

Cooper’s Colombian Dark Roast

Cooper’s Colombian Dark Roast

  • Region: Colombia (Specific region unknown)
  • Type of roast: Dark
  • Form: Whole bean (12 oz bag)
  • Flavor notes: sweet, chocolate, smoky/fruity
  • Certifications: Fair Trade

Cooper’s Cask Coffee is one of the most popular coffee brands on the market. And that’s because they roast only the best coffee beans in the world. While they’re pricier than other coffees on our list, we feel that the quality outweighs any concerns about costs.

This Colombian dark roast has a bold, full-bodied flavor with a deep sweetness and dark fruity notes. If you love dark-flavored coffee that’s almost smoky, this would be perfect for enjoying in a Chemex.

Cooper’s Cask only roasts in small batches to guarantee freshness. They source their beans from small farms in Colombia, and only fairly traded beans make the cut. Speaking of cuts, you won’t notice any defects in these beans because Cooper’s adheres to Grade 1 coffee bean quality standards.

As it’s a dark roast, it may not be for everyone. You might even find that the flavors are too intense. In this case, we’d recommend adding less coffee next time. This is a good remedy for Chemex brewing. Not strong enough in the Chemex — add more coffee. Too strong — add less.

Cooper’s Cask gets two thumbs up from us because they also sell a variety pack.

AmazonFresh Colombia Whole Bean Coffee

AmazonFresh Colombia Whole Bean Coffee

  • Region: Colombia (Specific region unknown)
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Whole bean (3-pack of 12 oz, 2 lb bag)
  • Flavor notes: sweet
  • Certifications: Unknown

Yes, this is an Amazon-brand coffee. Right off the bat, that may be a turn-off. And frankly, we placed it on our list at #6 for the simple reason that it’s super affordable. You can get a 2 lb bag of whole bean Colombian coffee for under $20 — that’s a bargain!

This coffee is sourced in Colombia, and roasted and shipped from the US. It’s 100% Arabica and is medium-roasted. The medium roast brings out the sweetness in coffee beans and offers a nice balance of acidity and flavors.

From what we read in the reviews, people have mixed feelings. But generally, for the price, you can’t beat this coffee. It has a smooth, full-bodied flavor that isn’t overpowering or off-putting.

We recommend the AmazonFresh-brand Colombian coffee for people looking to get into whole bean coffee and Chemex brewing. You can experiment with coffee-to-water ratios and practice your pouring technique without spending a ton of money on expensive single-origin. We also liked that Amazon included detailed info on how to brew coffee using various coffee makers.

Coffee Beanery Costa Rican La Minita

Coffee Beanery Costa Rican La Minita

  • Region: Costa Rica (Tarrazu/Hacienda La Minita)
  • Type of roast: Medium
  • Form: Whole bean(12 oz bag)
  • Flavor notes: sweet, chocolate, fruity
  • Certifications: Kosher

Coffee Brewery was a new brand that we looked at specifically for Chemex coffee. It’s #7 but read on, and you’ll see why it may rise in the ranks over time. On the pricier end of the scale for single-origin beans, Coffee Brewery sources from a particular estate in Costa Rica — La Minita. La Minita produces some of the best coffee in the world, period.

Coffee in La Minita is grown at an altitude of 4,200-5,900 ft. This 100% Arabica has a medium body with acidity that might make you pucker. However, it balances the acidity nicely with evident sweet notes of caramel and chocolate.

Coffee Brewery went out of its way to source the best coffee, and this shows in the reviews. People that have tried it say it’s the best they’ve ever tasted. When you brew it in a Chemex, you’ll find that it has a terrific balance and depth. It’s also clean and smooth, exactly what you’d expect from Chemex.

We recommend this unique Costa Rican coffee for people that want their taste buds to dance in ecstasy — so pretty much everyone!

How to Choose Coffee for Your Chemex

There’s no rulebook on which coffee to use. Some people end up using espresso beans for Chemex (espresso beans really mean a dark roast) and enjoy it just the same.

But if you want a clean-tasting, flavorful cup of coffee, your best choice is a medium roast, single-origin coffee brewed to perfection in a Chemex.

Again, there are no rules about roast levels, and each coffee roaster has their own set of standards. Generally, if you want barista-style Chemex, go with a medium roast. Medium roast coffee will have a tender sweetness with an acidic zing, plus all the flavor specific to the beans you’re using.

Chemex Size

Chemex brewers come in different sizes. They range from 5-65 oz versions. Remember, Chemex uses a 5 oz per cup standard. So, if you see a brewer that’s 8-cups, it’s actually 40 oz (not 64 if you use the 8 oz standard).

Which Chemex Filters to Choose

There are two main types of filters for Chemex: paper and permanent. Use only filters intended for Chemex. Chemex filters use thicker paper. You can buy a permanent stainless steel filter. Note: since paper traps some of the essential oils, permanent-filter coffee may be too strong. You can purchase pre-folded (under $10/100 filters) or unfolded paper filters. It’s straightforward to fold a filter. Follow Chemex’s Filter Folding Guide if you need help.

What is the Best Chemex Grind Size

The question of how to grind beans for Chemex comes up a lot in discussions. Generally, aim for a medium to medium-coarse grind. You don’t want the grind too coarse because then the water will run through, and your coffee will be watery. You also don’t want it too fine as you’ll end up with bitter or overpowering coffee.

Coffee Flavor Characteristics by Country.

Every country and every type of soil produces a unique combination of flavors. We’ll explore seven countries that have a distinct blend of taste and aroma that you’ll be able to pick out of a lineup.

Colombian Coffee

  • Medium acidity
  • Sweet
  • Fruity
  • Can be syrupy

Ethiopian Coffee

  • Medium acidity
  • Very fruity
  • Sweet
  • Flowery

Indonesian Coffee

  • Low acidity
  • Spicy/herb-like
  • Mildly fruity
  • Earthy

Peruvian Coffee

  • Medium acidity
  • Nutty
  • Mildly fruity

Brazilian coffee

  • Medium acidity
  • Nutty
  • Mildly fruity
  • Chocolaty

Costa Rican coffee

  • Medium acidity
  • Chocolaty
  • Mildly fruity
  • Sweet

Guatemalan coffee

  • High acidity
  • Chocolaty
  • Mildly fruity
  • Floral
  • Nutty

Closing Thoughts

As always, it’s up to you and your personal preference. The best for one person may be the absolute worst for someone else. When putting our list together, we chose coffees that fit the palate of most people. So most of the coffees are medium roast.

Choose from our Top-7 list of the best coffee beans for Chemex and enjoy the intimate experience and full control over the process that few brewing methods provide.

Brew with confidence!

Renat Mamatazin

Renat Mamatkazin

2021/04/21

Founder and owner of Lion Coffee and 3ChampsRoastery, 1st place winner of Ukrainian Barista Championship 2017. Interested in travelling, football and Formula-1 (besides coffee, of course).

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