If you are stuck somewhere in between a rich, full-bodied coffee flavor VS a more subtle, light aromatic and colorful drink – well, you need a comparison of Chemex VS French Press and which brewing method might suit you and why.
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Since the past many years, coffee brewing methodologies have evolved to a great extent. Today, if you are having more than one coffee cups a day, you certainly want them to taste different according to the time of day and your mental and physical state.
In this guide, we will tell you everything you need to know regarding the Chemex (also known as pour over coffee) and the French Press coffee, and also which is better for you and why.
French Press Coffee Brewing
The French Press,, also known as a cafetiere, dates back to as early as the 1800’s, however, the first patented version came to the surface in the late 1920’s by a Milanese firm.
The company spent years in improving the device and by 1950’s, the whole of Europe was quite familiar with the French Press design and coffee brewing method. A few years after it was well-known in Europe, it was introduced to America as well.
How Does it Work
The mechanism for a French Press is quite simple – it consists of a brew chamber or beaker made from glass, stainless steel, ceramic or plastic. There is a plunger that connects the brewing chamber through a lid with a mesh filter.
Coarse ground coffee is added at the bottom of the beaker followed by hot water. A good way to soak the coffee grounds by adding a little amount of hot water. Let it soak for 30 seconds.
Now you can fill up the rest of the desired level with hot water, close the lid and wait for 3-4 minutes. Press the plunger down and it is ready to serve!
Pros & Cons of French Press
Every coffee brewing methodology comes with it its own advantages and disadvantages, so does French Press.
Let us first have a look at some of the advantages:
No Filters Needed
This is undoubtedly one of the biggest plus points of a French Press. It comes with a mesh filter which means no additional filters are needed whatsoever.
Easy to Operate
If you are new to coffee making and don’t really know the other ways of brewing – French Press will work perfectly for you. Grind, add hot water, wait for a while and there you go! Your coffee is ready.
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Quick Brewing Time
Regardless whether you are using dark or medium roast coffee beans, a normal coffee cup using a French Press should not take more than 3-4 minutes.
Now let’s have a look at some of the negatives of the French Press:
Slight Gritty Effect
The mesh filter in a French Press does keep out the larger coffee grounds, however, some small particles might get through. This varies from one coffee brand to another, but it’s there.
Not Easy to Clean Up
Cleaning is not too easy with a French Press, specifically those coffee grounds at the bottom might take a while to get removed.
Chemex Coffee Brewing
As compared to the French Press, Chemex or pour over coffee making is a newer way of brewing coffee.
This is an invention by American Chemist Peter J. Schlumbohm, who came up with this device in 1942, as a result of his inspiration by his own laboratory equipment meant for other purposes.
These were the times in the United States when most people used to make coffee with percolators.
How Does it Work
The basic mechanism of a Chemex revolves around an infusion technique just like a drip coffee maker, however, this one is a pour over methodology.
The first step is to place the filter paper on the device in a conical shape. Rinse the filter so that you don’t get the papery taste in your coffee cup.
Add medium-roast coffee grind in the filter. Pour hot water in circular motion to uniformly soak the coffee grind. Let it bloom for 3-4 minutes and your coffee is ready to serve.
Pros and Cons of Chemex Brewing Method
As fa as pour over coffee brewing is concerned, it also has its own positives and negatives. Let us have a look at the positives first:
Easy to Clean
Out of all the coffee machines and devices you might come across, Chemex is the easiest to clean. In addition to this, there are no leftover coffee grounds in this brewing method.
No Bitter Taste
Since there is an external paper filter that does not let any of the oils or acids to pass through, the taste that you will get from a Chemex will be very clean and smooth.
Due to the fact that a lot of sediment and acids are filtered out, Chemex gives you a nice and clean coffee brew each time.
Let us have a look at the disadvantages now:
Paper Filters Required
Since this brewing method requires paper filters, this might become a hassle especially if you are out of those filters at a wrong time of day.
Additional Kettle Required
For proper pour-over of hot water in the Chemex, you will need an additional goose-neck style kettle that will add to your overall cost.
French Press VS Chemex – How to Select the Right One
Remember, no coffee making technique is considered right or wrong – it all comes down to a person’s preferences and all other factors that play a vital role in his or her lifestyle.
What are those factors? Let’s have a look at them one-by-one.
Time – How Long Should You Wait?
In today’s fast-paced competitive world, time is one of the major things that plays a key role in most of our decision-making, and so it does to our coffee cup as well.
Chemex – Brewing coffee using this method takes around 5-6 minutes with all the blooming and rinsing the filter paper prior to that. Brewing time is around 4 minutes.
French Press – Since this doesn’t require any external paper filter placement, you can have your coffee cup ready within 3-4 minutes using a French Press.
Our Verdict: Some might argue that the overall difference is just 1 minute. Well, John Watton once said, “In the time it took you to read this sentence 20 million emails have been sent.” So yes, when each second and minute counts, French Press takes the lead.
Portability – Is it Easy to Carry Around?
If you are someone who likes to go on vacation or camping regularly and want your coffee with you at any time or place – portability will be a major factor for you and quite rightly so.
Chemex – Since this pour-over coffee is entirely made up of glass, this can be bit too fragile for traveling or camping. Yes the glass is tougher than your regular glass utensils and appliances – still, it is glass.
French Press – Apart from glass, the modern French Press brands are manufacturing it in stainless steel, plastic and ceramic as well.
Our Verdict: Since stainless steel or plastic, or any other material other than glass is easier to fit in a traveling bag, French Press is the right choice if portability is one of your top concerns.
User-friendliness – My Coffee Should be Hassle-free
Usually, people are multi-tasking during their coffee brewing process. Whether at home or at work, you might want to simultaneously take care of another task while your coffee is being brewed.
Chemex – Once you have rinsed the filter paper, added coffee grind and poured hot water, the blooming process will start and it doesn’t require your attention. Also, the cleaning is quite easy with the Chemex.
French Process – Since this process will require you to first soak coffee grounds using little amount of hot water, followed by filling up your carafe and then having to plunge towards the end, this is slight more work.
Also, coffee grounds can give you a real hard time as far as cleaning is concerned.
Our Verdict – Keeping into consideration the brewing, ease-of-use and cleaning process, Chemex is a better choice if these factors are important to you.
If your home-brewed coffee cup is going to cost as much as you pay for it at your favorite coffee shop, there is no point of spending your hard-earned bucks on a coffee maker in the first place.
Chemex – Since it requires additional accessory in terms of paper filters, it can be costly.
French Press – This is a one-time investment. Once you have bought the coffee maker, you won’t need any other accessory or maintenance cost to incur.
Our Verdict: Well, both of these coffee makers are considered to be very cost-effective, however, since French Press does not have any additional costs, it is the right option as far as cost is concerned.
Coffee Brew – Which one Tastes Better?
This could well be the deciding factor if you are not someone who will ever compromise on the quality of the coffee that you get, regardless of all other factors.
Chemex – Since this coffee maker comes with a filter paper, it doesn’t let the oils and sediments to pass through which results in a clean and smooth cup of coffee.
It might give you a light and crisp cup, however, the oils that that it filters out are known to give a unique flavor to your coffee. Eventually, this might result in lesser richness.
French Press – On the other hand, the French Press uses only a mesh filter that doesn’t filter out all the particles during the brewing process.
This leads to a darker, richer and full-bodied taste of coffee that is more refreshing than a Chemex coffee cup.
Our Verdict: We would not select one type here as it all depends on how do you like your coffee. We have given you the details and facts, if you know your coffee taste, you can easily decide for yourself which one to go for.
Our Top Picks for French Press Coffee Makers
Here are some of the better French Press coffee makers that you can find in the market today:
Frieling French Press Coffee Maker
This double-wall stainless steel coffee maker comes with a 23-ounce capacity, super-fine mesh filter and a full-length handle for comfortable grip.
Yama French Press Coffee Maker
The Yama Glass French Press is another renowned coffee maker, mainly known for its 30 oz capacity that serves 6 (5 oz) cups, ability to brew both tea and coffee and its premium thick boro-silicate glass design.
Our Top Picks for Chemex Coffee Makers
Since we are talking about a single brand here, let us have a look at the model variations here:
Chemex Classic Series 3-Cup
This Chemex 3-cup pour over coffee maker is ideal for small places or gatherings either at home or work. Simple and easy to use, this is an affordable coffee maker that uses half circle filters.
Chemex Hand Blown Series 8-Cup
The Chemex Hand Blown series gives you a more elegant design and a larger capacity that works perfect for regular home or office use. This one uses FP-1, FC-100, FS-100 or FSU-100 Chemex filters.
Our Final Word on Chemex VS French Press Comparison
Although there is no winner for Chemex VS French Press coffee brewing since it all depends on your taste, it is imperative to note that you are, nonetheless, one step ahead of regular drip coffee that you see all around.
As we have mentioned earlier, if you are looking for a strong and bold coffee flavor, you should be inclined towards a French Press coffee maker.
If you like your coffee light and simple, more like what you get from a drip coffee maker, then Chemex might well work for your taste buds.
Always keep into consideration the coffee taste you prefer, the price you can afford and the product that would suit your needs rather than going for a product that looks nice and flashy but might not be what you need.