French press vs Chemex coffee maker

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How do you take your morning coffee? Do you enjoy a strong, dark coffee cup or is a creamer coffee with fruity and floral notes more your cup of joe?

Whatever your preference, there is a coffee brewing method to suit your specific taste. There are a number of way to successfully brew the best coffee at home and using the right coffee maker for your coffee preference will help you get there.

Let’s take a closer look at two popular home brewing methods, the French press, and the Chemex coffee maker so you can determine which one suits you best. Perhaps it’s both, or maybe neither. Let’s find out.


The Chemex coffee maker was invented in 1941 by a chemist called, Peter J. Schlumbohm. Chemex coffee maker uses the cold filtering process where coffee grounds are added to the coffee filter and hot water is then poured over. The coffee filter separates the used coffee grounds from the liquid which drains into the coffee pot at the bottom. Chemex brewing utilizes an infusion method that looks like drip coffee but is actually a pour-over method.

It uses specific Chemex coffee filters that are thicker than your average pour-over coffee filter. Although the process is slow, the resulting coffee flavor is worth the wait.

How to Brew Using Chemex

To successfully brew Chemex coffee, you need to have a Chemex coffee maker. There’s no way around it. Fit the Chemex coffee filter into the funnel, and add medium-coarse ground coffee beans into the coffee filter paper. Use a coffee grinder to grind the coffee beans to the desired size. Check out the best coffee grinders here. Heat your water to around 195-200F and pour a small amount over the coffee grounds. Wait around 30 seconds. This gives the coffee grounds a chance to bloom, releasing their essential coffee oils and aroma. Completing this extra step will improve the flavor of your coffee. Don’t rush the process as the finer details of coffee brewing can have a big impact on your beverage.

Slowly add more hot water in a swirling, circular motion to ensure you have coated all of the coffee grounds. Now its a case of waiting for the liquid to seep through the coffee filter. This process takes about 6 minutes. The Chemex pour-over coffee maker can fill about 3 to 8 coffee cups.

The result is a crisp, clean cup of joe. Chemex is an ideal coffee maker for light and medium roast coffee beans. It’s also ideal for experimenting with different coffee grind sizes and altering the strength of your coffee.

To find out more about making strong brews check out, How to brew strong coffee and Why coffee grind size is important?

The advantages of using Chemex

  • The coffee grounds aren’t easily over-extracted in this coffee maker so you don’t get that harsh bitter taste in your coffee.
  • The coffee comes out clean without any sediment.
  • It is easy to use this coffee maker.
  • Clean-up is easy. Just throw away the coffee filter, full of used coffee grounds, and rinse out the coffee pot.
  • Chemex coffee maker is attractive and scientific in design.

The disadvantages of using Chemex

  • It requires regular replacement of the coffee filter so you always need to stay stocked up.
  • Buying all those coffee filters can get pricey, and they aren’t very environmentally friendly.
  • To really get the best brew using a Chemex coffee maker you should ideally use a gooseneck kettle which will add to the cost if you don’t have one already.
  • You will need to work on your pouring technique to transfer the coffee from the Chemex coffee pot to your coffee cup without spilling.

French Press

The french press is an older coffee maker model, invented in the 1930s by Attillio Calimani, an Italian designer.

A typical french press coffee maker has a press plunger featuring a stainless steel mesh filter that is connected to the lid. The lid sits on top of the coffee pot which is long, cylindrical, and made of glass, and the mesh coffee filter can be pressed down to the base of the coffee pot to separate the coffee grounds from the rich brew.

Coffee lovers enjoy the french press brewing process because it is simple and quick to use but delivers on strong coffee flavor every time.

How to use the French press

To brew coffee using the french press coffee maker, you should make sure you have freshly ground your coffee beans to the appropriate size. You’ll find that coarse coffee grounds are the best for this method. Add your coffee grounds to the french press and pour a small amount of hot water into the coffee pot and let the coffee bloom for about 30 seconds as you would do with the Chemex coffee maker.

Then, pour in the rest of the hot water and let the coffee brew for another 5 minutes. Then finally push the plunger down slowly to the bottom of the coffee pot. It takes about 6-7 minutes overall to make your coffee with the french press coffee maker. If you are preparing coffee for several people, make sure you have a large french press coffee maker.

 The advantages of using a french press

  • There are no added costs of replacing coffee filters.
  • It is really basic to clean the coffee pot, which is wide enough to get your soapy sponge in easily.
  • The french press is environment-friendly compared to the Chemex coffee maker, as you are not using and paper coffee filters.
  • It’s highly useful, you can use the french press coffee maker to create espresso, black coffee, tea, and cold brew coffee.
  • The french press coffee maker is cheap to buy.

The disadvantages of using a french press

  • If your coffee grounds are too fine, you might find that they have slipped through the french press coffee filter and made their way into your coffee cup. So watch out for that when you are pressing down the filter.
  • You’ll need to clean out all the coffee grounds from the bottom of the coffee pot which is a bit of a pain.


Both the French Press and Chemex have their advantages and disadvantages. What’s most important is which model you think will suit your brewing style, preferences, and lifestyle. When making your decision think about the following factors:

Time: They are both very similar in brewing time although the Chemex coffee maker takes a while to drip down into the coffee pot, the french press needs to steep for longer because the coffee grounds used in the brewing process are more coarse.

Flavor: The french press will give you a richer, darker fuller coffee flavor because the coffee beans and water remain together for longer giving you a fuller extraction of flavor. However, if you enjoy a light clean coffee, the Chemex coffee maker will produce a softer coffee flavor for your palette.

Easy to use: The french press coffee maker requires the least amount of effort whereas the Chemex coffee maker perhaps grants the user more room to experiment.

Let us know in the comments which coffee maker you would choose and why.

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About the author

The more refined, sensible (and slight less hirsute) half of BushyBeard Coffee. Ben loves fine roasts, strong dark coffee and quiet time spent with a good book.

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