Chemex vs. French Press: Which One Should You Go For?

What is the perfect cup of coffee?

The definition of the perfect cup of coffee differs from one person to another. You might even change your mind based on the time of the day, the mood, and what you expect to do after having your coffee. By comparing Chemex vs. French Press, we’ll help you understand the differences between these 2 brewing methods so you can prepare a personalized coffee cup that suits your mood.

Comparing French Press and Chemex Coffee Brewing

What is a Chemex Coffee Maker and How Does it Work?

The Chemex method is simple, yet comes with lots of benefits that appeal to coffee lovers worldwide. The Chemex coffee maker is a scientific invention, invented by an eccentric chemist who wanted to brew coffee with a clean flavor and less bitterness. As a result, lots of first-time users might confuse the Chemex coffee maker with a lab tool.

The Chemex coffee maker works according to the pour-over method, leaving the coffee beans to brew slowly but surely. It uses a thick filter that significantly makes the texture and taste richer, while filtering out all the fine particles.

This is how the Chemex coffee maker works.

The Chemex coffee brewing technique  will take about 5 to 7 minutes, with the time needed to set up your coffee maker. You can’t use any filter, because the machine comes with special thicker filters to ensure a clean filtration process. The glass carafe is available in various sizes, so you can pick the most adequate size.

What is a French Press and How Does it Work?

The French Press was invented a little earlier than the Chemex coffee maker and features no filters allowing for maximum extraction of the flavor from the coffee beans you’ve chosen. It’s fast and requires no skills, so anyone can enjoy a rich and dense cup of coffee that contains all the luxurious taste and aroma.

This coffee maker works according to the steeping method, allowing the beans to release their oils and flavors in a short time. Although the technique is pretty straightforward, you can experiment a little until you’ve finally prepared a cup of coffee that works for you.

This is how the French Press works.

The French press is a fuss-free method that requires no special preparation. The carafe is usually made of glass, but some models have a ceramic carafe which should be coated from the inside to resist stains. Stainless steel carafes are also available, and they’re more durable. They’re quite easy to clean, but they’re more expensive than glass carafes.

Using a Chemex Coffee Maker to Brew

Which is Easier to Brew?

These 2 brewing methods can be mastered using affordable tools to help you prepare tasty coffee whenever you want. To determine which one is easier, we have to compare several factors.

Time Needed

Using the Chemex coffee maker takes about 7 to 8 until you’re able to finish the entire process. If your filter is already installed, you might take as little as 5 to 6 minutes. The brewing process itself will take about 4 minutes to make sure that the coffee beans have released all the flavors.

For the French press, you will probably need 3 to 4 minutes to have your favorite custom-made coffee cup. There’s no preparation or filtration required. In this aspect, the French press is definitely a winner.

Ease of Brewing

Spending time on grinding your coffee beans, if they’re not pre-ground, is extremely important whether you’re using a French Press or a Chemex coffee maker. Most people prefer to grind their coffee beans at home to guarantee their freshness. If this is not possible, you can go to a coffee house and ask them to grind the beans you choose, or you can buy ground coffee online or from a store.

Brewing Chemex Coffee

For this part, you will spend the same amount of effort and time, depending on the method you choose to grind your coffee. When it comes to brewing your coffee, things can be a little different as using a Chemex coffee maker is different from using a French press coffee maker.

First, you need to make sure that you have the right filter for your Chemex coffee maker. These filters are thicker than ordinary paper filters and should be designed to fit the mouth of the carafe perfectly. After letting the coffee beans bloom. You need to add more water in a wiggling motion to make sure that the coffee grounds are perfectly soaked.

If you choose to use the French Press, you don’t have to wiggle your hands or follow a special technique when you’re pouring the hot water after the coffee beans have bloomed. However, you need to press the piston steadily to make sure that the coffee has released all its flavors and aroma.

After the brewing process is over, it’s easier to clean the carafe of the Chemex coffee maker because there’s no residue after you toss the filter away. You will have to spend a few minutes cleaning the French press coffee maker to make sure that it’s ready for the next use. Moreover, you have to remove the piston and clean the mesh filter, to get rid of all the buildup before you put the coffee maker away.

If you master the Chemex technique, it will definitely be easier to use. However, most beginners would prefer the French press technique since it’s more straightforward, even if you will end up spending more time cleaning your coffee maker.

Portability

Since there’s no electricity involved, both coffee makers are portable and can be packed for a trip away from home. The Chemex coffee maker is made of glass and has no metal cover or any kind of protection. It’s quite fragile and might not be the best option to pack on a camping trip, for example.

The French press coffee maker is usually made of glass, but there’s usually a stainless steel or plastic casting that makes it more durable. Moreover, you can find plastic and stainless-steel models that would definitely work when you’re away from home. For this reason, the French press would be better and more practical.

Quality of Brew

Pouring Chemex Coffee

This is probably the most significant factor because, after all, you’re interested in the taste of the coffee that you want to drink. Using the same kind of coffee beans will yield different results, depending on the brewing method.

The Chemex coffee maker has a thick filter that filters most of the unwanted particles and residue. As a result, your coffee will be clear with a clean flavor. Nevertheless, the thick filter filters most of the oils that make coffee feel rich and luxurious.

The French press has no filter, and there’s only a mesh filter at the bottom of the piston, making sure that most of the residue will stay in the coffee maker. However, all the rich flavors and oils will pass through, together with some of the coffee finest particles. As a result, the coffee you drink will be full of taste and aroma, but you might end up with some unwanted coffee dust.

No method is better than the other, but it all depends on your preferences as both brewing methods will yield different results.

What Kind of Grind do You Need? Fine? Coarse?

For a Chemex coffee maker, you need medium-coarse coffee, which looks like large salt crystals or like the grains of rough sand. The thick filter will block out the smallest particles, guaranteeing that you will end up with a clean cup of coffee.

For the French press, you need to use a medium grind. This way, you can minimize the amount of coffee dust that finds its way into your coffee cup because there’s no filter to block the small particles. It will also be driven at the right pace and pressure to the bottom of the coffee maker to make sure that the coffee has steeped properly in your coffee maker.

What type of Roast Produces Better Coffee? Dark? Light?

Making Chemex Coffee

The Chemex coffee maker removes the oils that usually make the coffee taste bitter. This is why you can use anything from light to dark roast, depending on your preferences. As a matter of fact, the Chemex coffee maker will bring out the richness of lighter roasts that you’re unlikely to experience with other brewing method.

For best results, you might want to stick to medium roast. It’s a good balance between the light and dark roasts because it would still offer some aroma without being too strong.

There’s no difference when it comes to choosing the right roast for your French press. You can technically use any roast to prepare your coffee, but most people prefer the medium or dark roast, especially if they’re interested in rich coffee. The French press retains the oils that make your coffee taste rich, so if you’re looking for a full taste, a darker roast might work.

Is a Chemex Coffee Maker Cheaper Than a French Press?

If the price was the only concern, you would definitely find cheaper options when you’re shopping for a French press coffee maker. Although the carafe is usually made of glass, you can definitely find cheaper options made of plastic. Even stainless-steel models can be more affordable, because the metal won’t break, unlike a glass carafe.

On the other hand, the average price of a Chemex coffee maker is definitely higher. The glass carafes look elegant but it’s more fragile. Moreover, using these coffee makers tends to be more expensive in the long run. You’re more likely to break a Chemex coffee maker than a French press, so you might end up buying more of them if you like to enjoy your coffee this way.

Final Thoughts

Both the Chemex coffee maker and the French press coffee brewer offer unique ways to prepare your coffee. You can choose your favorite roast, and grind your coffee beans to create a cup of coffee that matches your taste.

A Chemex coffee maker offers a cleaner taste, without the residue or the oils that can make your coffee taste bitter. There are several sizes available, so you can pick the one that works for you. A French press retains most of the oils that give your coffee extra taste and dimension. However, it will let some of the smallest particles pass through because there’s no filter.

Although the Chemex takes more time, it’s easier to clean and will help you enjoy a clear taste without any residue. The French press will work if you want to sip rich coffee. In the end, the choice is yours as your cup of coffee should suit your personal taste and mood.

Comparing French Press and Chemex Coffee Brewing
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