A visit to Chemex - Pittsfield, Massachusetts

A visit to Chemex - Pittsfield, Massachusetts

In January 2013, we made a trip to Pittsfield, Massachusetts to visit the home of Chemex coffee makers.
When we first arrived, it seemed like a small warehouse with not much too it, but a really cool retro sign above the door saying Chemex.  

Adams Grassy, who is a owner along with other family members, greeted us and showed us into the seating/break area of the factory.  It was surrounded by some really amazing and historical glass from Chemex's past.  

Opalescent, clear, colored glass, different materials in the handles, all surrounding us with a sign saying "THE MOST RECOGNIZABLE COFFEE MAKER EVER DESIGNED".

It was at this moment, when we realized... wait, wasn't this how they made coffee on Friends? Or in James Bond, while stationed in London at De Bry's on New Oxford Street.

In order to understand the popularity of this machine, its important to see the times in which this was invented, basically right during World War II, by a german man named Dr. Peter Schlumbohm.  

After graduating Chemistry from the University of Berlin, in Germany, he made a living mostly, from his inventions.

He applied for patent No. 2,241,368 for a ‘Filtering Device on April 13, 1939 and exhibited the same version at the NY Worlds Fair that year.  He moved to New York after realizing the potential of his creations in the States and because of his anti-army sentiments with his homeland of Germany.  

What Adams explained to us, was that the Chemex brand was designed for almost everything in the house, and even a Chemex car.  Adams family bought the company, and as far as we understood, all of Dr. Schlumbohm's designs.  These ranged from cigarette holders, electric fans, newspaper holders, cups, eye-glasses, to bras and a TV.

His work has been included in the MOMA's permanent collection.

We brought along some coffee to brew on their Chemex coffee brewer and walked around checking out the filter production and the handle assembly.  We have always liked Chemex for our naturally processed coffees as the paper thickness removes a lot more oils than the thinner v60 filters.

When the paper was designed it was a major breakthrough in improving coffee flavor and lessening bitterness.  Using fractional extraction, the coffee can be in contact with water for almost twice as long as we would extract a v60, but as all of the liquid must pass though the thick bottom of the cone, most of the oils causing bitterness in over-extraction are removed.  For us, there is no better way to brew a naturally processed coffee!

We would like to thank Adams Grassy and his family for taking the time to visit with us!


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