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French Press Vs Chemex: Which One Is The Best?

French Press Vs Chemex

French Press Vs Chemex

French Press Vs Chemex: What’s Your Ideal Coffee Flavor?

When I need to jumpstart my mornings with zest and vitality, I prefer a brew that’s intense and robust. Yet for those tranquil afternoon hours, I ensure my coffee is crisp and luminous. The decision often boils down to: The Chemex vs French Press.

So, which method will craft your ‘perfect’ brew? Let’s examine the French Press versus drip coffee brewing to discover which appeals to you most.

The Chemex Coffee Maker

French Press Vs Chemex: This marvel of coffee brewing was invented by Peter J. Schlumbohm, Ph.D., a chemist. Drawing inspiration from his lab equipment, he designed this coffee-making apparatus in 1941. Today, it holds a distinguished position in the contemporary coffee world.

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the Chemex is favored by coffee aficionados for the unmistakably clean and rich brew it produces.

Here’s a simplified rundown of how the Chemex method works:

Begin by preparing your Chemex brewer with its paper filter. Add your preferred amount of coffee (medium coarse grounds), wet the coffee grounds, and allow your coffee to ‘bloom’ for about 30 seconds. Remember, using a circular or swirling motion when you pour is crucial for evenly soaking the grounds.

PRO TIP: You can even use the Chemex to make cold brew!

The French Press

French Press Vs Chemex: The French Press method came into prominence in the coffee scene in the late 1920s. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that it began to gain popularity throughout Europe, Britain, and eventually the United States.

The French Press brewing method, which takes 3-5 minutes, is straightforward and hassle-free. Plus, it produces the thick, full-bodied brew that many of us love.
Begin by soaking your coarse ground coffee in hot water and allow the coffee to ‘bloom’ or bubble up for thirty seconds. Then, pour in the rest of your water and let your coffee brew for approximately three to four minutes. When the time is up, push the plunger down to the bottom of the carafe.
If you’re a newcomer to the world of coffee making, here’s an article that clarifies what a French press coffee maker is and how it operates.

The Showdown: French Press Vs Chemex

Criteria Chemex French Press
Brewing Method Filtration or Dripping Steeping
Ease of Use Medium Easy
Brewing Time 4 Minutes 5 Minutes
Control Over the Brew Yes Yes
Resulting Brew Rich & Clean Full Bodied and Sediments
Materials Available Glass Stainless Steel, Glass, Plastic
Sizes Available 3 Cup, 6 Cup, 8 Cup 8 Oz, 16 Oz, 23 Oz, 36 Oz
Price Range $30-$70 $10-$70


One of the things I appreciate about both these brewing techniques is that they employ reasonably priced coffee makers. So, in terms of equipment cost, I’d consider both of them victors.

Let’s examine how they stack up against each other when considering crucial coffee-making elements such as preparation time, ease of use, portability, and the quality of the final brew:

Time: From Bean to Brew

When it comes to preparing your favorite brew, time is often a luxury. However, there are ways to get a good cup of coffee as quickly as possible. Let’s compare two popular brewing methods, the Chemex and the French Press, to see which one is quicker.

Chemex: Using a Chemex coffee maker, the entire brewing process will take around five to six minutes. This includes a couple of minutes for setting up the filter, rinsing it, and allowing the coffee to “bloom.” The actual brewing time is about four minutes.

French Press: With a French Press, you can skip the filter setup altogether. Additionally, there’s no need to pre-heat your brewer and cup if you’re in a rush. The brewing process itself takes approximately three to four minutes.

The Winner: In terms of speed, the French Press method takes the prize, even if it’s just by a minute. Since you don’t have to go through the process of setting up a filter and rinsing with the French Press, you can dedicate a bit more time to brewing. This is especially helpful if you prefer a stronger brew. So, if you’re looking for a quick and efficient way to enjoy a cup of joe, the French Press might be your best bet!

French Press Vs Chemex: Ease Of Brewing

Chemex: To brew with a Chemex, start by grinding your beans to a medium-coarse consistency. It’s crucial to use Chemex-specific filters, as they are specially designed to fit the brewer’s mouth and are thicker than regular filters, ensuring precise filtration. The second pour, following the bloom, requires careful technique: begin with a wiggling motion and transition to a gentle spiral to evenly soak the grounds. This even soak ensures consistent temperature and brew time, which affects the extraction of flavors from the grounds.

French Press: Using a French Press also requires attention to grinding, aiming for a coarse grind. Unlike the Chemex, the French Press has a built-in mesh filter, eliminating the need for a paper filter. Pouring after the bloom doesn’t require any special technique; a straight pour is recommended. The ideal contact time is up to four minutes. After brewing, slowly press the plunger down to keep the grounds at the bottom of the carafe.

French Press Vs Chemex: Blue Bottle Coffee advises decanting the brew immediately after plunging to prevent bitterness or chalkiness, a tip that significantly enhances the flavor.

Tie-breaker: Both methods involve some effort, but let’s compare the cleanup process.

The Chemex produces a mostly sediment-free brew, making cleanup quick and easy, taking about thirty to forty-five seconds.

In contrast, the French Press leaves more grounds in the carafe, and cleaning its small parts takes around three minutes.

The Winner: The Chemex wins for convenience with its swift and easy cleanup.


French Press Vs Chemex: Unlike their more advanced counterparts, the Chemex and French Press do not require electricity or complex buttons, making them excellent options for portability.

Chemex: A classic six-cup Chemex stands about 8.5 inches tall and weighs less than two pounds. It is crafted from non-porous borosilicate glass, with no metal or plastic casing, placing it on the fragile side. While it is not overly large, there is a notable drawback as highlighted by Death Wish Coffee: the Chemex is not ideal for brewing a single cup of coffee.

French Press: Typically, a French Press is slightly shorter, just under eight inches, and weighs about the same as a Chemex. Its sturdier construction is the key difference, often featuring a borosilicate glass carafe with a stainless steel casing or an insulated plastic shell in modern designs. An excellent example is the Frieling USA French Press, made of double-wall stainless steel.

The Winner: The French Press is the clear winner for portability, thanks to its more durable components and practical design.

Quality of End Product/Brew

French Press Vs Chemex: When it comes to the quality of the final cup of coffee, both the Chemex and the French Press methods offer unique characteristics. Let’s explore the differences in the end product of each method.

Chemex: The Chemex method is known for its filtering process, which sets it apart from other brewing methods. It utilizes a custom-made paper filter that is thicker than standard filters, screening out more unwanted particles. This results in a cup of coffee that is bright, clean, and clear, perfect for sipping.

However, the paper filter used in the Chemex can be a double-edged sword. While it effectively filters out unwanted particles, it can also remove some of the coffee oils that contribute to the distinct flavor of the brew. As a result, while the Chemex offers a bright and clean cup of coffee, you may lose some of the richness that is characteristic of a good cup of joe.

French Press: The French Press method takes a different approach by skipping the paper filter stage. Instead, it relies on the mesh filter at the bottom of the plunger, focusing on the brewing process itself.

French Press Vs Chemex: This means that when brewing with a French Press, you get more natural oils from the coffee grounds, which contribute to the flavors and aromas of the final cup. French Press coffee is known for its richness, strong aroma, and full-bodied characteristics, providing a robust and satisfying drinking experience.

However, it’s worth noting that the French Press method can leave more sediments at the bottom of the brewer. Some fine coffee particles, often referred to as “coffee dust,” may escape through the mesh filter and end up in the brew. This can result in a bit more sediment in the cup than desired.

The Winner: In terms of the style of brew, both methods offer distinct advantages. The Chemex delivers a bright and clean cup of coffee, while the French Press provides a flavorful and full-bodied experience. Personal taste preferences play a significant role in determining which method is preferred.

Personally, I find the French Press method more satisfying due to its rich flavors and aromas. However, taste is subjective, and the winner ultimately depends on how you prefer your coffee.

Consider the characteristics and trade-offs of each method to determine which style of brew aligns with your preferences. Whether you prioritize a bright and clean cup or a flavorful and full-bodied experience, both methods have their own unique appeal.

The Verdict

French Press Vs Chemex: If you’re considering one of these coffee makers, it shows that you appreciate the art of brewing coffee at home. You want a visually appealing brewer that can make one cup or many, and you don’t plan on taking it on your travels. Most importantly, you value the experience of enjoying a damn smooth cup of coffee.

If this sounds like you, let’s explore the differences between the French Press and the Chemex to help you make the right choice. The Chemex and the French Press may seem similar at first glance, but they each have their own unique qualities. The Chemex is well-suited for pour-over or drip coffee enthusiasts. It may take a little more practice to master, but the payoff is a fine-tasting, clean, and smooth filter coffee.

The Chemex brewer itself is a piece of art that coffee lovers will appreciate adorning their breakfast tables. If you’re willing to invest a bit more time in preparing your cuppa and prefer a lighter, cleaner brew, the Chemex is the way to go. On the other hand, the French Press offers a unique brewing experience. While it may produce a cup with a bit of sediment (just be careful with that last sip!), it is incredibly simple to use and doesn’t require disposable or gimmicky filters. The French Press remains a staple in every coffee lover’s brewing arsenal.

So, which should you choose to achieve that “perfect” cup? Ultimately, it depends on your available time and your preferred style of coffee. Whether you opt for the elegance of the Chemex or the simplicity of the French Press, make sure to select fresh, quality beans and follow the brewing instructions to create the coffee of your dreams. Whichever coffee maker you choose, enjoy the journey of brewing and savoring your cup of joe. Cheers!


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