The Chemex and French press coffee makers both produce exceptional coffee — but their methods, flavors, and mouthfeel are very different. So which should you choose?
We’re taking a close look at both brewing methods, including factors like cost, coffee quality, and ease of cleaning, to help you decide. You can’t go wrong with either method, but one probably suits you better than the other. Scroll down to find out which!
The Chemex is a simple, beautiful pour-over coffee maker. This hourglass-shaped glass brewer was invented back in 1941 and has remained about the same ever since.
To use a Chemex, you need to commit to buying the company’s branded paper filters, which are double-bonded and significantly thicker and stronger than regular paper filters. They’re not wildly expensive, but the cost will add up over time, and they do produce a little more waste.
How do you brew a Chemex? Place a filter in the top of the brewer and add medium-coarse coffee grounds. Then pour hot water over the grounds as you would for any pour-over brewer. When all of the water has gone through the grounds, you remove the filter and serve your coffee.
Want to know more about the Chemex? Read our in-depth review!
French Press Overview:
The French press is a simple steeped brewing method that uses a metal filter, a plunger, and a plastic, metal, or glass container. To brew French press coffee, you pour coarsely-ground beans into the brewer and add boiling water. Then you place the metal filter on top and leave the brewer to steep for 10 minutes. When your coffee is fully steeped, you push the plunger down, filtering the grounds out.
Want to learn about brewing with a French press? Check out our detailed guide (with pictures).
One of the most important questions to ask yourself is how you prefer your coffee. Do you like rich, full-bodied coffee with lots of mouthfeel? You’ll probably prefer the French press, which uses a steeping method to fully extract flavor from your beans. Without a paper filter, the French press also leaves in all of coffee’s natural oils, which adds flavor — but may reduce the health benefits of drinking coffee.
If you prefer clean, clear coffee without any sediment or oil, you’ll want to consider the Chemex, which uses thick paper filters. Chemex coffee is aromatic and flavorful but doesn’t have those natural oils. A recent study showed that filtered coffee could lower cholesterol and make you healthier overall!
Both of these brewing methods are relatively fast, though the French press, which is a steeping method, will take a little more time.
In terms of cleaning, the Chemex filter lifts out of the top, leaving a full carafe of coffee. This coffee ground disposal is significantly easier than the French press, which requires you to scoop or rinse out the coffee grounds. If you don’t have a garbage disposal, cleaning a French press is especially tricky. You don’t want to clog up your pipes with coffee grounds!
Keep mind that the Chemex is a single piece of glass that’s shaped like an hourglass, so to fully scrub out the bottom, you’ll need a bottle brush.
Though you can buy more expensive French presses, there are plenty of inexpensive models available from a wide range of companies. You can also buy portable French presses or models that combine French press technology with travel mugs. This means the French press is a more versatile option.
On the other hand, the Chemex comes from a single company, and it’s not especially cheap. You can choose a basic model or upgrade to the hand-blown glass series, but nothing will be dirt cheap.
Chemex vs French Press: Which Should You Choose?
So which of these tasty brewing methods should you pick? You may prefer the French press if you like full-bodied, steeped coffee, or you don’t want to use paper filters. The French press is also a more versatile brewing method, with models available from many companies at a range of prices.
You might like the Chemex better if you like clear, sediment-free coffee or want to maximize the health benefits of your morning cup. Plus, the cleanup is easier and the brewer is beautiful.