Chemex vs French Press – The Most Preferable Manual Brewing Method For You

Caffeine lovers may need an alarm to wake up, much like everybody else, but they certainly need no buzzer to remind them to prepare their first cup of delicious, hot coffee. As a coffee lover, you’re always looking for ways to upgrade your morning coffee-sipping experience. And this brings the debate of Chemex vs French Press into the scene more than you can imagine.

Both of these brewing techniques are pretty straightforward. The real difference actually lies with the method of extraction. French Press requires plunging while Chemex involves pouring over. And just so you know, there are pros and cons to both brewing styles. In that case, how do you weigh one against the other? Let’s get to the bottom of it!

What’s So Special About Chemex?

What Is Chemex?

With this method of brewing, you use a paper filter, add your favorite medium-coarse ground coffee, and then pour hot water over those grounds in a circular motion. That’s about it. Obviously, it’s easier said than done. But when done the right way, Chemex coffee can be incredibly clean because of the use of the paper filter.

Filters for Chemex are made using special bonded paper, which minimizes, to a large extent, the entry of bitter solubles into the cup. And that is exactly what prepares extremely delicate, bright coffee.

This special filter paves the way for the delicate flavor notes of your coffee. That means those who enjoy more floral African coffees are bound to get hooked on.

Another praiseworthy benefit of Chemex is the prevention of grit into your final cup. Once again, all thanks to the specially bonded paper filters. And just so you know, this isn’t something you get with French Press as its mesh filter screens are not small enough for preventing the entry of tiny-sized coffee grounds. On the other hand, Chemex works with thicker filters.

And one last thing, Chemex is made of glass and wood. It’s a very aesthetically pleasing coffee maker indeed.

What’s So Special About French Press?

french press coffee

French Press brewing, no doubt, is very simple. You add your coarse ground coffee into the bottom chamber, pour hot water, let everything steep for a few minutes, and then plunge. The beauty of this type of brewing is that it gives you more full-bodied, richer coffee. The pressing/plunging part of the process tends to extract richer flavors from the coffee beans.

Also, even the steeping matters as it allows you to control the strength of your brew. Longer contact of hot water with the grounds means stronger coffee, right?

Another thing that French Press coffee lovers can’t get enough of is the essential coffee oils. Unlike Chemex, French Press has the capacity to capture everything – including coffee oils and grit. The grit part you may not like as it takes the form of sediments, but the essential coffee oils certainly offer their own health benefits.

Size-wise, French Press is smaller, thus a very portable coffee maker that is also more durable in comparison to Chemex. In fact, French Press is pretty versatile as well. You can prepare a cold brew using your French Press.

And lastly, in terms of price, French Press seems like a more affordable choice.

Comparison of Chemex and French Press – Major Points of Differences

Brewing Time

Some days of the week you have all the time in the world to prepare your morning coffee and even savor it. But most days, that’s not how it is, right? So you need something that works with your busy schedule.

Keeping that in mind, you should know that Chemex brewing takes around 5-6 minutes. The process involves setting up the filter, rinsing the coffee maker, and allowing the grounds to bloom. Along with the brewing part of the process, which takes 4 minutes.

What about French Press? No need to waste time in setting up any filters here. At the same time, pre-heating your cup and the brewer is also not necessary in case you’re getting late. As for the brewing, it takes 3-4 minutes.

Needless to say, French Press is the clear winner in this department. On top of that, with a French Press, you can easily add a minute or two for brewing to prepare a stronger cup of coffee.

Brewing Ease

With Chemex, you first have to grind your coffee beans to achieve the medium-coarse size. Furthermore, special Chemex filters have to be used as these are thicker and fit perfectly around the mouth of the coffee maker.

The pour post-blooming, on top of that, is a bit tricky because you just can’t pour straight over the coffee grounds. You have to pour in a circular motion gently in order to evenly soak all the grounds. Only when the coffee is evenly soaked in hot water do the brewing time and consistent temperature extract the good elements.

Moving on to French Press, it’s the grinding of the coffee beans that requires more attention. The coarse grind size works the best for French Press. But then there’s no setting up of any paper filters because this coffee maker comes with its own integrated mesh filter.

Moreover, the pour after the bloom doesn’t have to be patterned. The contact time is just 4 minutes for an ideal brew. Then you steadily and slowly press down on the plunger. And decant your coffee immediately right after brewing to keep it from tasting chalky or bitter.

Now, based on this, how do you decide which method is easier in terms of brewing? It goes without saying that both French Press and Chemex demand some extra effort. So maybe we should let the clean-up part make the decision for us.

Clean-Up

Chemex gives you sediment-free coffee. So not more than 30-40 seconds to clear up post-brewing. But French Press leaves quite a lot of coffee grounds in the bottom of the carafe. And that means more time spent cleaning the small parts of this coffee maker.

Design/Portability

No need to press any buttons or plug in both coffee makers, correct? So in terms of portability, both Chemex and French Press are pretty commendable. But one is certainly more portable than the other.

Let’s start with Chemex. It’s a classic 6-cup coffee maker made using non-porous borosilicate glass, but with no plastic or metal casing. So the glass makes the coffee maker fragile indeed.

As for French Press, its weight and height are pretty much the same as Chemex. The only major difference is the sturdier construction. French Press has a design that consists of borosilicate glass, which is the carafe, and stainless steel casing. Thus, making it less fragile and safer to carry.

Taste/Final Brew

Both brewing methods produce different results. So let’s get to know the differences in the quality and taste of the final brew between the two.

The filtration process of Chemex is the most special part. The specially bonded paper filters are thicker here, which keeps out unwanted particles. So your brew tastes clear, clean, and bright. But then it’s this particular filter only that also screens out the essential coffee oils, robbing your final brew of its distinct flavors. And this leads to your coffee losing some of its bold richness.

But the French Press doesn’t work with any such filter. It has its own mesh filter screens. This method of brewing focuses more on the brewing part than anything else. So you get a much greater amount of natural coffee oils and flavors to prepare a full-bodied, aromatic, and rich brew.

But then even French Press offers setbacks in the form of sediments that are likely to invade your cup. So your coffee may carry a little bit of that unwanted gunk. So it’s either clean and bright coffee (with Chemex) or more flavorful, full-bodied coffee (with French Press).

Price

When we compare the price between the two, French Press ranks as the more affordable option. On the other hand, Chemex coffee makers are even costlier than pour-over. On top of that, there’s the extra money you spend on paper filters for Chemex.

V60 vs Chemex

After all, Chemex is a brewing method that involves the pour-over technique. So why fit it into a separate category? That’s because Chemex makes use of thick paper filters. These are thicker in comparison to those used for V60. So you get a cleaner taste with less acidity and oils, which means more delicate and mellow coffee.

V60 has a special funnel structure with grooves, which guide the hot water to create separation. And you already know by now that Chemex does no such thing.

Also, Chemex is a delicate, fragile coffee maker. While V60 is a more portable pour-over device. The materials involved in the case of the latter are stronger and even more durable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Does French Press Coffee Taste So Bad and How to Fix It?

The most common culprit here is the wrong grind size. Or maybe you brewed your coffee for longer than you should. Sometimes French Press coffee tastes bad also because too much acid gets dissolved during the initial part of brewing. These are the most common blunders that often give rise to unpleasant bitterness and flavor. So how do you go about fixing it?

Firstly, the perfect grind size for French Press is coarse. Secondly, make sure your coffee-to-water ratio is on-point, which should be 1:12. Thirdly, don’t go overboard with the brewing time. This includes immediately pouring your brew into a cup post-plunging to keep away over-extraction and bitterness.

Does Chemex Coffee Have More Caffeine?

30 ounces of ground coffee for Chemex in an 8-ounce cup contains 80 milligrams of caffeine.

As for French Press, it contains higher levels of caffeine – between 80 and 100 milligrams. Simply because this method of brewing extracts coffee compounds and flavors aggressively because of the longer contact time. Also, the longer the steeping of the grounds, the higher the level of caffeine.

Is Chemex Better Than AeroPress?

Each brewer offers its own set of advantages and disadvantages. AeroPress is the best for coffee lovers on the go since it’s more portable and durable. On the other hand, Chemex, because it’s all-glass, is more suited for stationary use.

In terms of taste, AeroPress prepares a brew with an espresso-like flavor. But it’s Chemex that brings out the more delicate and intricate notes of your favorite fruity, flavorful coffee. You can get to the bottom of this debate between choosing Chemex or AeroPress.

Conclusion – So What Is the Final Verdict?

If you ask us, then we can tell you that it’s all about your personal tastes, preferences, and also convenience. There’s no doubt that French Press is a more straightforward technique of brewing, which makes it such an appealing choice among entry-level coffee enthusiasts. It’s affordable, easy to use, and delivers a more full-bodied, richer cup of coffee.

Then there Chemex with its special paper filters and pour-over method. The former prepares grit-free coffee, but then it also doesn’t allow natural coffee oils through, which means the richness of your brew gets compromised. As for the special circular-motion pouring technique, it’s a lot easier if you’re not an entry-level at-home brewer.

So you can decide based on your style of brewing. Keep it as simple as that.

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