Celebrating 80 years of the CHEMEX Coffeemaker

The family-owned CHEMEX Corporation recently announced the 80th anniversary of iconic CHEMEX coffeemaker. CHEMEX has always had a flawless chic design blended with perfect functionality, something that has remained constant over the years. The elegance of a CHEMEX has earned it a place in many a museums and collectors’ cabinets around the world over the years.

The birth of the CHEMEX Coffeemaker

According to the CHEMEX Corporation, the story of the CHEMEX began in a workshop in Manhattan sometime during the late 1930s. The eccentric inventor Dr. Peter Schlumbohm was experimenting with chemical reactions using various lab apparatus in pursuit of brewing the PERFECT cup of coffee. Decades later, we are still in pursuit of that perfectly brewed cup, aren’t we?

Dr. Schlumbohm, by then, had already created many intriguing patents to enhance one’s lifestyle but he was determined to make delicious coffee easy, healthy, and stylish for everyone to brew. Good coffee shouldn’t be all that complex and difficult, should it now? No, absolutely not. Down the line, with these experiments was born the CHEMEX Coffeemaker and the CHEMEX brandin 1941. At the CHEMEX factory in Massachussetts, United States, every CHEMEX Coffeemaker is still inspected, polished, and hand-tied, and every filter is still hand cut, like it always has been.

CHEMEX Coffeemakers are made from lab-grade high quality glass that is not just beautifully clear, it also imparts no flavor or taint to the brewed coffee. The CHEMEX filters are also proprietary filters made of bonded paper which are thicker than the regular paper filters used for drop coffeemakers. The thicker CHEMEX filters give a cleaner cup by removing the unpleasant coffee oils and bitterness. It is said that the thicker filters also remove the cafestol, a cholesterol-elevating compound found in coffee.

The first time I saw a CHEMEX for real was at a Starbucks store, where the CHEMEX Coffeemakers are sold. The feature that districtly stood out for me is the heatproof wooden collar that the CHEMEX Coffeemaker had. The collar made it look more elegant sitting on the tabletop while also making it easier to handle and pour the hot coffee without inviting accidents and injuries. What made it even more elegant was that leather thong string that held the two pieces of the collar together around the sleek glass neck. This feature is actually quite iconic of the CHEMEX that gained immense popularity in the post-war world when modernism and modern manufacturing was just picking up juxtaposing natural wood and the organic nature of the hand-tied leather thong knot in an otherwise precise and sharp looking lab glassware.

CHEMEX Coffeemaker in popular culture

Ever since I fell in love with the different coffee brewing methods, I have observed all movies and TV shows carefully to see who is using what to brew their coffees. And what a range of things I have discovered in the process. While Dexter Morgan (Dexter), Dr. Christina Yang and Dr. Preston Burke (Grey’s Anatomy) sure use a French Press, CHEMEX also has its own popular culture mentions and features.

The 1954 romance movie – Sabrina features a CHEMEX Coffeemaker in the corner of “Linus”‘s Bar in his office.

In the 1959 movie Pillow Talk, Doris Day is seen pouring coffee from a CHEMEX and the CHEMEX occupies a prominent place in her kitchen.

A 1982 Naugahyde ad in Playboy features a CHEMEX by the couch.

There couldn’t be a more notable mention of the CHEMEX in popular culture than the popular spy franchise – James Bond. In the novel ‘From Russia with Love‘ by Ian Fleming, the author describes James Bond being in London, brewing his breakfast coffee using the CHEMEX Coffeemaker using coffee bought from the De Bry’s shop on New Oxford Street.

In the 1968 Roman Polanski movie, “Rosemary’s Baby“, you will find the CHEMEX in Rosemary’s kitchen as well as Guy Woodshouse’s kitchen.

In the 1970 William Friedkin movie “The Boys in the Band“, the CHEMEX can be found in Michael’s kitchen.

In the popular TV show – The Mary Tyler Moore Show of the 70s, Mary Richards has a CHEMEX in her kitchen.

The CHEMEX makes regular appearances in Monica’s apartment in F.R.I.E.N.D.S. In some episodes, you can even find Chandler, Joey, Rachel, and Ross holding it, pouring from it, etc.

For a man who popularized the ‘Old Fashioned’, it is notable the CHEMEX is also present in Don Draper’s kitchen in the renowned show Mad Men.

In the renowned Christopher Nolan movie – Interstellar, the CHEMEX is used as a water pitcher.

In the 1965 movie, The Satan Bug, Ed Asner uses the CHEMEX in an outdoor poolside scene.

In 1966 detective movie Harper, Paul Newman uses a CHEMEX to brew his coffee.

The 80th Anniversary Edition of the CHEMEX

To celebrate the milestone, CHEMEX Corporation has launched unique and celebratory products including a Limited Edition 80th Anniversary Handblown CHEMEX with a gorgeous hand-turned wooden collar that would arrive in a vintage-inspired screen printed packaging. There is also a decaled 80th Anniversary Special CHEMEX with the Official 80th Anniversary logo in CHEMEX blue.

Have you ever used a CHEMEX? Do you prefer brewing your coffee using a CHEMEX? Tell me what you think about the CHEMEX in the comments on find me on Instagram – @banjaranfoodie.

One Comment Add yours

  1. bhavipatel says:

    Reblogged this on blackbeautyandme.

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