You probably already know that the method you use to brew your coffee can drastically affect the flavor, aroma, and overall experience.
In this post, we’re going to dive into a classic coffee conundrum: Chemex vs. French Press.
In one corner, we have the elegant and visually striking Chemex, known for its clean and bright flavors.
In the other corner, the robust and straightforward French Press is celebrated for its rich and full-bodied brews.
These two brewing methods have their own unique strengths and characteristics, and we’re here to help you decide which one suits your taste buds and lifestyle better.
|Brewing Time||4-6 minutes||3-4 minutes|
|Taste Profile||Clean and bright||Bold and robust|
|Ease of Use||Moderate||Easy|
|Cleanup||Quick and simple||Slightly more involved|
|Price Range||Relatively expensive||More budget-friendly|
|Portability||Less portable||Very portable|
|Aesthetic Appeal||Elegant design||Traditional or modern style|
|Versatility||Adjustable parameters||Adjustable parameters|
What Is A Chemex?
The Chemex, a timeless and elegant glass coffee maker, was invented by Peter Schlumbohm in 1941 and was crafted by the Chemex Corporation in Chicopee, Massachusetts.
This classic brewer has stood the test of time, being in production for over seven decades.
It’s a versatile coffee-making device that allows you to perfect each step of your coffee-brewing process.
When you use a Chemex, you’re employing a pour-over method, where hot water flows through a bed of coffee grounds and a filter, typically made of paper.
The Chemex stands out with its special double-bonded paper filters, which are thicker than most others.
These filters excel at capturing coffee oils, resulting in a “cleaner” cup of coffee compared to other brewing systems.
With a Chemex, you can expect a brew with minimal sediment and unwanted oils, giving it a lighter, smoother taste.
One of Chemex’s strengths lies in its ability to accentuate the bright and lively flavors of coffee beans, such as citrus, honey, or stone fruit.
So, if you’re a fan of these vibrant coffee notes, the Chemex should be front and center in your kitchen.
Its design is a delightful blend of playfulness and simplicity, making it not just a coffee maker but a functional piece of art for your daily coffee rituals.
- Large capacity (up to 13 cups)
- Unique design for aesthetics
- Thicker filters for a cleaner cup
- Easy to use, great for beginners
- Easy to clean due to glass construction
- Produces a clean, less bitter brew
- Higher cost
- Fragile glass construction
- Bulky and space-consuming
- Limited flexibility with filter options
- Exclusive availability through one company
What Is A French Press?
The French Press method got its start in the late 1920s and later made its way across Europe, Britain, and eventually, the United States starting in the 1950s.
This brewing device, sometimes called a cafetière, coffee press, or coffee plunger, is pretty straightforward.
It lets coffee grounds soak right in hot water before separating them from the brewed coffee by pressing down the filter.
So, what’s it made of? Well, you’ve got a slim, usually glass or clear plastic container, with a lid and a plunger.
The plunger has a fine filter made of stainless steel wire or nylon mesh.
With French press coffee, you get a bold, full-bodied taste because the coffee grounds hang out in hot water throughout the brew, unlike traditional drip systems where water just passes through quickly.
The French press is known for being user-friendly and easy to clean.
It won’t break the bank, and it won’t hog much space in your kitchen either. It’s a classic choice for those who appreciate a rich, robust cup of joe.
- Rich, full-bodied taste from immersion brewing.
- Customizable brewing process for a tailored cup.
- Cost-effective with low initial and ongoing costs.
- Portable for coffee on the go.
- Environmentally friendly, no need for filters.
- Sediment in the final cup due to coarse grind.
- Fragile glass beakers.
- Sensitivity to small variations in brewing factors.
- Messy cleanup.
Chemex vs French Press: Key Differences
Now that you know a bit more about each of them, let’s pit them against each other in a head-to-head battle to help you decide which brewing method is better for you!
Chemex vs French Press: Taste
When it comes to choosing between Chemex and French Press, the taste is often the game-changer for most folks.
Chemex coffee boasts a clean and bright flavor, while French Press coffee is all about bold richness.
Chemex coffee stands out thanks to its unique filter, all-glass construction, and the shape of the device.
With its all-glass design, there are no extra flavors mingling with your brew, giving you a 100% pure coffee experience.
If you’re a fan of clean, bright flavors, Chemex is your go-to choice.
It’s the top pick for those seeking a pristine, crisp taste.
On the flip side, French Press coffee takes a different path.
It involves soaking coarse coffee grounds in hot water for a longer duration, resulting in a more robust and flavorful cup.
French Press is like the heavyweight champion of coffee, offering a rich and bold flavor profile.
The grounds get up close and personal with the hot water, and the plunger system preserves the essential oils and particles responsible for those distinctive coffee tastes and aromas.
French Press is perfect for a more robust and stronger coffee experience.
Chemex vs French Press: Aesthetics
In terms of looks, the Chemex and French Press bring different styles to the table.
The Chemex boasts a sleek and elegant design with its classic hourglass shape and charming wooden collar and tie.
It’s often seen as a piece of art, even displayed in museums like the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).
On the flip side, the French Press rocks a more traditional and rustic appearance, typically with a metal or glass body and the recognizable plunger.
Some French Presses, like the Stelton EM Press Coffee Maker and the Osaka Cafetiere, break the mold with a modern and stylish design.
In the end, the choice between the two really boils down to your personal taste and the kind of look you want for your kitchen or coffee corner.
If we had to pick a winner for the most attractive coffee maker, we’d still give the nod to the timeless charm of the Chemex.
Chemex vs French Press: Ease Of Use
Making coffee with a French press is as simple as it gets.
All you need is your trusty French press, some ground coffee, and hot water.
Here’s the drill: toss in the coffee grounds, pour in the hot water, let it hang out for a few minutes, press the plunger down, and voila – your coffee is ready to pour.
Now, on the other hand, the Chemex is a bit more of a coffee ceremony.
You’ve got to place a filter on the top, add the coffee grounds, and pour hot water over the coffee following a specific pattern for even extraction.
It takes a tad longer and demands a bit more precision, but many coffee aficionados enjoy the ritual and precision of the Chemex brewing process.
Chemex vs French Press: Cleaning And Maintenance
With a Chemex, cleaning up is a breeze, taking just about thirty to forty-five seconds.
Since the Chemex uses its own filter, all you do is grab the filter and toss it in the trash.
Lift out the filter from the top, and you’ve got a carafe of coffee ready to go.
It’s way simpler than dealing with a French press, which often leaves a heap of coffee grounds at the bottom.
Cleaning a French press, especially its smaller parts, can take at least three minutes.
One thing to remember, the Chemex is one solid piece of glass shaped like an hourglass, so to really get into the bottom, you might want to use a bottle brush.
Chemex vs French Press: Portability
Unlike their more high-tech counterparts, both the Chemex and French press are straightforward, plug-free brewing methods that are great for on-the-go use.
However, when it comes to portability, the French Press usually takes the lead.
Your typical French press is a bit shorter than a Chemex, and while it’s about the same weight, its sturdier build sets it apart.
This simplicity makes it easy to pack and carry, a popular choice for camping and travel.
Most French presses combine a borosilicate glass carafe with a stainless steel casing or an insulated plastic shell in modern designs.
You’ll find plenty of portable French Press options on the market, like the Bodum Chambord, Encoola Portable French Press, and the OVRLNDR Travel Press.
On the flip side, the Chemex is less portable due to its fragile glass construction and the specific Chemex filter it requires.
A standard six-cup Chemex stands around 8.5 inches tall and weighs less than two pounds.
It’s made of non-porous borosilicate glass without any protective metal or plastic casing, making it quite delicate.
Nonetheless, there are portable Chemex options like the Funnex brewer, designed to be sturdy and functional for those on the move.
The French Press wins the portability game hands down, thanks to its durability and convenient design.
Chemex vs French Press: Brewing Time
Brewing with a Chemex typically takes a bit longer.
This method involves a more meticulous process, which includes placing a filter, adding ground coffee, and pouring hot water in a specific pattern to ensure even extraction.
Depending on the amount of coffee and water you use, it can take anywhere from 4 to 6 minutes for the water to pass through the grounds and into the carafe.
The French press is slightly quicker.
You simply add coffee grounds to the press, pour in hot water, let it steep for a few minutes (usually 4 minutes), and then press the plunger down to separate the grounds from the coffee.
The entire brewing process usually takes around 3-4 minutes, which makes it a faster option compared to the Chemex.
Chemex vs French Press: Price
The cost of both Chemex and French Press coffee makers can vary based on factors like size, brand, series, and materials used.
In general, French Press coffee makers tend to be more budget-friendly compared to Chemex.
Chemex is unique in that it’s produced by a single company, and it’s not known for being a low-cost option.
Whether you opt for a basic model or decide to splurge on a hand-blown glass series, it won’t be the cheapest coffee maker on the market.
On the other hand, French Press coffee makers offer more budget-friendly choices.
You can find affordable options from a wide range of brands.
There are even portable French Press models and those that combine French press technology with travel mugs, giving you a lot more versatility in terms of price and features.
Key Similarities Between Chemex And French Press
Materials and Simplicity
Both the Chemex and French Press share the simplicity of manual brewing methods.
They don’t require electricity or intricate buttons and dials, making them accessible to coffee enthusiasts of all levels.
In terms of materials, both devices primarily feature glass components.
While the Chemex is typically all-glass, French Presses often combine borosilicate glass carafes with stainless steel or plastic casings, offering durability and versatility.
Versatility in Brewing Parameters
Another shared characteristic is the flexibility they offer in controlling various brewing parameters to tailor your coffee to your liking.
With Chemex, you can experiment with factors like water temperature, coffee-to-water ratio, and grind size, adjusting them to achieve the desired flavor profile.
Similarly, the French Press lets you play around with coffee grounds, water temperature, and steeping time to fine-tune your brew.
Portability for On-the-Go Brewing
Despite differences in design and fragility, both the Chemex and French Press provide on-the-go coffee brewing options.
While the French Press’s sturdier construction and various portable models make it the more obvious choice for travel, you can still find portable Chemex alternatives designed to meet the needs of those who can’t bear to part with their favorite brewer while on the move.
Eco-Friendly Brewing Methods
Lastly, both brewing methods share an eco-friendly aspect.
The Chemex’s use of proprietary paper filters minimizes waste, as they are biodegradable.
French Presses, in turn, do not require any disposable filters, contributing to a reduced environmental footprint.
In a world increasingly conscious of sustainability, both these methods align with eco-conscious coffee consumption.
Verdict: Choosing Between Chemex and French Press
Both methods offer distinct advantages and unique characteristics that cater to different tastes and lifestyles.
Here’s a verdict to help you decide which one might be the best fit for you:
Choose Chemex If…
You prioritize a clean and bright taste
If you’re all about that crisp, clean, and bright coffee experience, the Chemex is your ideal companion.
Its unique filter and all-glass construction ensures you get a pure, unadulterated coffee flavor, making it perfect for those who enjoy the subtleties and nuances of their coffee.
You appreciate aesthetic elegance
The Chemex’s timeless and elegant design, which has even earned a spot in museums, will grace your kitchen with sophistication.
If you want your coffee maker to double as a piece of art, the Chemex is the way to go.
You value precision in your brewing process
If you find joy in the meticulous rituals of coffee brewing and appreciate the precision it requires, Chemex will be your ally.
It may take a bit more time and attention, but the reward is a precisely crafted cup of coffee.
Choose French Press If…
You crave a bold and robust flavor
For those who love a hearty, full-bodied coffee with a rich taste, the French Press is your ticket.
The immersion brewing process allows coffee grounds to mingle with hot water for a longer duration, delivering a punchy and robust flavor.
You seek simplicity and quick results
If your mornings are a rush or you simply prefer an uncomplicated brewing process, the French Press is your best friend.
It’s straightforward and quick, making it perfect for those who want a relatively no-fuss cup of coffee.
You value portability and versatility
The French Press excels in the portability department.
Its durable construction and various portable models make it an ideal choice for coffee lovers on the move, whether it’s for camping, traveling, or daily use.
Why is Chemex so special?
Chemex is special due to its unique design and patented filters.
Its hourglass shape and non-porous glass construction maintain the purity of your coffee’s taste, without any additional flavors.
The proprietary filters remove coffee oils and produce a clean, bright, and distinct flavor.
Is Chemex the best way to brew coffee?
There is no definitive “best” way to brew coffee, as it depends on personal preference.
Chemex is an excellent choice for those who enjoy clean and bright coffee.
However, the best brewing method varies from person to person.
Is pour-over coffee healthier than French press?
Pour-over coffee is often perceived as a healthier option compared to French press coffee primarily because of the use of a filter.
The filter in pour-over coffee traps oils and prevents them from making their way into your cup, resulting in a cleaner and milder flavor.
Furthermore, pour-over coffee typically contains less cafestol, a compound linked to raising cholesterol levels, which is found in higher concentrations in standard brewed coffee.
What’s the best bean type for French Press brewing?
The best bean type for French Press brewing is usually one with a medium to coarse grind.
Coffee beans known for their bold and full-bodied flavors, such as dark roasts or medium-dark roasts, often work well with the French Press method.
How do I keep brewed coffee hot?
To keep brewed coffee hot, use an insulated container or thermos to maintain the temperature.
Alternatively, use a coffee warmer or heating pad.
Also, consider preheating your cup or carafe to help retain the heat.