So, which is better, pouring or plunging?
If you’re faced with the daunting decision between the Chemex and French Press coffee brewing methods, then you’ve come to the right place!
The Chemex vs French Press debate is an on-going one amongst fellow coffee-lovers. These two traditional coffee makers are impressive in their own ways. This is what makes it so tricky to decide between them.
To help you find your perfect brew, we’ve put these coffee brewers head-to-head to give you all the details you’ll need to know.
Let’s go ahead and compare them to see which model makes the perfect cup of coffee for you.
Chemex Vs French Press: Which Is Better?
The Chemex Pour-Over Coffee Maker
The history behind the Chemex Pour-Over Coffee Maker is a rather clever one. It was first invented in the 1940s by a German scientist called Peter Schlumbohm. He created the Chemex by combining an Erlenmeyer flask, a glass funnel, and filter paper.
The Chemex is a great option if you enjoy manual coffee brewing. If you’re wanting a hassle-free coffee maker though, then we wouldn’t recommend the Chemex for you. It requires careful pouring, making it time-consuming and a bit tricky for pour-over beginners.
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But with practice and a bit of patience, anyone can master it. When made properly, there’s nothing quite like the deliciously smooth brew from a Chemex coffee maker.
This device’s simple yet elegant hourglass shape makes for a great kitchen counter ornament. The sleek wood collar around the neck of its flask lets you pick it up without touching any hot glass.
Although its glass design gives it a very modern look, this does mean that it is quite fragile and easily broken.
The Chemex requires a conical coffee filter that sits in the funnel-like opening. This removes all ground sediment to produce an impressively clean brew. The filter may decrease the richness of the brew though, and you’ll have to replace the filters after each use.
Don’t forget to use proper Chemex filters! These are thicker than regular filters, resulting in a much more precise filtration.
Offering a wide range of cup size options, Chemex is also guaranteed to satisfy almost any appetite. The most commonly bought model is the Chemex 6-cup Coffee Maker. This model is large enough to accommodate a small dinner gathering, but still small enough for one or two people.
There is nothing quite like clean, clear pour-over coffee. Before you know it, it’ll become a morning ritual that leaves you with delicious tasting coffee.
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The French Press Coffee Maker
The French Press coffee is another favorite of any coffee hobbyist. It’s also known as a coffee plunger or a press pot.
While its origins are unclear, it has been around for more than 100 years. The current design was invented by a group of Italian designers in 1929.
We love that it’s convenient and straightforward. This is something you might appreciate if you’re always on a tight schedule. Plus, it makes an aromatic and rich cup of coffee!
This device’s popularity comes from its low price tag and ease of use. The French press gives you more control over your resulting cup and the brewing is straightforward and not as intimidating as the Chemex pour-over.
It’s also a perfect model for beginners looking to up their coffee game!
The modern design is very simple, consisting only of a carafe and a plunger. It takes a bit more patience than using a drip coffee machine, but you can master the process in no time.
The Bodum Brazil Coffee Maker is a great product example. It showcases all the perks of the French Press, while still sitting at a very reasonable price range.
One of our favorite features of the Bodum Brazil is its removable handle and dishwasher-friendly glass carafe. This means you avoid having to hand wash, saving you a ton of time!
Like the Bodum Brazil, your typical French press has a sturdy yet compact design. It features a borosilicate glass carafe, surrounded by an insulated plastic shell or a steel casing. The Bodum Brazil’s plastic components make it a lot less fragile and easier to transport.
A notable downside to the French Press is that the mesh plunger isn’t completely effective in filtering out ground sediment. Smaller sediment might gather at the bottom of your cup – so you might want to leave that last sip!
But the rich tasting brew is well worth it! With its great price and sturdy design, the French Press will make an excellent addition to your kitchen counter.
Face to Face: French Press Vs Chemex
At first glance, the Chemex and French Press makers may seem similar. But when we compare the two models, you’ll see just how different they are.
You should first understand how each device works before diving into a face-to-face comparison.
When it comes to coffee brewing, these two coffee makers are about as manual as it gets.
They both have a more tedious brewing process compared to modern machines. This gives you total control over your coffee though. It also gives you a level of satisfaction unmatched by automatic machines – making your coffee taste even better!
Both need you to either buy ground coffee or have a separate grinder on-hand for your coffee beans. Plus, you’ll also need to heat your water separately in the kettle.
The Chemex’s pour-over brew method is as simple as it sounds. After placing your ground coffee in the filter, all you need to do is slowly pour your hot water through the filter and let the coffee grounds soak for half a minute. Then you do a second pour, moving the device in a gentle spiral motion to ensure even soaking of the ground.
All this easy process requires is a bit of patience!
While also completely manual, the French press has an even more convenient process. You simply add your hot water and coffee grounds together into the carafe and wait around 4 minutes for it to steep. The mesh plunger is then slowly pressed into the carafe, pushing the coffee grounds down below the mesh. You’re then free to pour out your delicious cup of rich, handmade coffee.
Feel free to check out our article on how to use a French Press for a more detailed step-by-step guide!
We’d say that these two are both winners when it comes to the price tag. Due to their simple designs and lack of extra features, both of the devices tend to be super affordable. This is great for coffee lovers on a tight budget – you can easily find a great quality model of either for under 50$!
Both options take several minutes to brew, with the French Press having a slightly shorter brew time as you don’t have to stand over it for a constant pour. The coffee can’t brew too quickly, otherwise, the hot water can’t absorb enough of the coffee grounds and you end up with a watered-down cup. On the other, if you wait too long then your coffee may taste too bitter.
The Chemex and French Press also have very similar brew capacity. While this depends on the specific make of French Press and Chemex, they can generally brew up to 6 cups of coffee.
Unlike modern coffee makers, the Chemex and French Press models don’t have any features that need buttons or plugging in. This is a big advantage for portability. The Chemex’s glass frame is quite fragile though, making the French Press an easy winner in this category.
The main components of both coffee makers are dishwasher-friendly. This makes both of them super easy to clean.
French press and the Chemex are both considered classics in the coffee world. Their pure, fresh, and aromatic coffee is something automatic machines just can’t give you. Any authentic coffee hobbyist should have a place in their kitchen for either a French press or Chemex – or both!
These two models share many great features, but there are some key differences to be aware of.
Chemex Vs French Press: Stand Out Features
The French Press comes out best here, with a brewing time of just 3-4mins. This beats Chemex’s brew time of 5-6mins, making it a little more convenient for those of us with busy schedules.
If you’re wanting your morning cup of joe ready as soon as possible, the French Press is a winner here.
Both the Chemex and French Press are completely manual, needing little effort.
For the Chemex, you’ll need to heat the glass, carefully place the paper filter, let the coffee bloom, and continuously pour water over the ground.
The French Press takes the cake for the most convenient method though. It requires no filter paper or careful pouring – all you need to do is plunge! So you can leave the brewer alone to soak with no problem.
This makes it the most ideal choice if you’re after an easier coffee brewing process.
The French Press holds another advantage by not requiring paper filters. Because Chemex requires single-use paper filters, this makes it less environmentally-friendly.
The thick paper filter means you have clean coffee with less sediment, but a stainless steel plunger is much more convenient. You won’t have to constantly replace filters after each use.
Ease of Use
Both devices need you to be present during the brewing process – so you can’t just press a button and forget about it. The Chemex requires a little more attention when pouring, while the French press can be left alone briefly as it steeps.
With a slightly longer and more careful procedure, the Chemex definitely needs more effort in its brew method. You also have to constantly replace the filter papers.
A French press is much simpler to use and more idiot-proof than a Chemex. Its ease of use also makes it a good option for travel or for a quick cup of coffee at the office.
Here, the French Press takes the lead once again. The Chemex has the advantage of producing a clean brew with no sediments, but it doesn’t quite catch the same delicious flavor of the French Press.
Since the French press uses the full extraction method with 4 minutes of steeping time, the resulting cup has a robust and dark taste. And because there is no paper filter, no oils or acids are removed, which gives your brew a richer flavor.
With that said, it comes down to what your filter coffee preferences are.
The Chemex is only available in glass. While this makes it far more elegant, it also makes it more fragile.
The French Press is a clear winner here. It’s made with a range of materials from stainless steel, glass, to plastic. This makes it easier to transport and less likely to break.
There’s no denying that the Chemex is the most appealing of the two designs.
The French Press is certainly not an eye-sore in the kitchen, but it doesn’t come close to matching the Chemex’s stylish hourglass shape.
When it comes to the price tag, the French Press is a winner yet again. If you’re on a tight budget, then the French press will be the more affordable option.
The Chemex is an expensive buy for the device itself, but you’ll also have the additional cost of replacing filter paper. The French press would be a one-time purchase, not requiring any additional accessories.
Both of these coffee brewers are easy to carry and much more travel-friendly than almost any other coffee machine. But the French press once again wins the portability category.
While they’re both made of sturdy glass, the Chemex’s hourglass shape is bulkier and more fragile. This makes it easier to break.
On the other hand, a small French Press can easily be packed in with your coffee travel kit.
While they both have dishwasher-friendly parts, the Chemex is easier to clean. Unlike the French Press, your excess coffee ground is in a neat pile on your filter for you to throw away.
The French Press will need you to scrape out the ground before you can put it into the dishwasher. This makes the cleaning process a lot messier.
The Chemex comes out on top in this category. Although, this might not be an issue for you if you don’t mind the bit of extra work.
The Final Verdict
So, to pour or to plunge?
Which coffee maker will give you the most satisfying cup of coffee: the Chemex or the French Press?
In our experience, these two iconic brewing methods are equally as worthy in their own ways. If we had to choose though, we would go with the French Press purely based on taste and brewing convenience.
But this said, the winner here really just boils down to what you want out of your coffee maker.
Use a Chemex if:
- You are looking for pour-over coffee
- You want a completely smooth, lighter brew
- You are a traditional coffee lover looking to branch out on your coffee-making skills
If what you’re after is just a simple, reliable maker with a clean flavor, then the Chemex is the coffee maker for you.
Use a French press if:
- You want a rich, full-bodied coffee brew
- You are looking for a simpler brewing procedure
- You don’t want to keep replacing a filter
The French Press coffee maker is a sturdy coffee maker, perfect for coffee-lovers who are after the delicious and flavorful cup.
We recommend choosing the one that best suits your brewing preferences.
Or why not choose both?! Explore a little and branch out your coffee-making expertise by discovering what these two classic designs can do.