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Chemex vs French Press: Which Method Brews the Best Coffee?

Coffee lovers around the world enjoy a good cup of coffee, but not all coffee is created equal. The method of brewing coffee can significantly impact the taste, caffeine content, and overall experience.

Two popular coffee brewing methods used by coffee aficionados are the Chemex and French Press. In this article, we will compare and contrast these two brewing methods, and provide an overview of how to use a Chemex for brewing coffee.

Comparison between Chemex and French Press

Brewing Equipment

The Chemex is a brewing device that was invented by Peter J Schlumbohm in the 1940s. It has an hourglass-shaped glass carafe that is an aesthetically pleasing addition to any coffee lover’s kitchen, and a paper filter that sits atop a funnel-shaped device.

The paper filter catches oils and impurities as the coffee is brewed, resulting in a cleaner brew that is less acidic and bitter. The French Press, on the other hand, is a coffee maker that is made up of a glass or stainless steel carafe and a metal filter that is plunged into the carafe.

This method of brewing does not use paper filters and results in a brew that contains more sediment and coffee oils.

Ease of Use

The Chemex is a simple pour-over method that requires you to place the filter in the funnel, add ground coffee to the filter, and pour hot water over the coffee in a circular motion. The water gradually seeps through the coffee and filter, dropping into the carafe below.

This method takes about 3-5 minutes to complete. The French Press is a slightly more complicated method than the Chemex.

You need to add ground coffee to the carafe, pour hot water over it, and let it steep for five to six minutes before using the plunger to separate the liquid from the coffee grounds. The downside of the French Press is that if the coffee is not brewed correctly, it can result in an unevenly brewed cup.

Grind Size

The Chemex requires a coarse grind of coffee, while the French Press can be used with a medium coarse or thick grind. The Chemex requires a coarse grind because the coffee is brewed over a longer period, which helps to extract the rich fruity flavors from the coffee beans.

The French Press requires a thicker grind of coffee because it allows more surface area for the water to interact with the coffee, resulting in a more flavorful and bold cup.

Brew Time

The Chemex takes about 3-5 minutes to brew a cup of coffee, while the French Press takes 5-6 minutes. The difference in brewing time is due to the extraction process and the use of paper filters.

The Chemex filters out coffee oils and impurities, resulting in a cleaner cup of coffee. The French Press does not use paper filters, so the coffee oils and sediments remain in the brew.

Coffee Taste

The Chemex brewing method produces a strong but delicate, clean, and crisp cup of coffee. The paper filter used in the Chemex captures the coffee oils that could make the cup of coffee too acidic or bitter, resulting in a smoother taste.

The French Press method produces a bolder, more robust, and thicker cup of coffee. The metal filter used in this brewing method allows the coffee oils and sediment to remain in the brew, resulting in a richer taste.

Caffeine Content

The Chemex and French Press coffee brewing methods have different caffeine content levels. The Chemex naturally extracts between 80 and 120mg of caffeine, while the French Press extracts between 70 and 90mg of caffeine.

If you are looking for a stronger cup of coffee, you may want to opt for the Chemex. If you prefer a less caffeinated cup, then the French Press may be the better option.

Portability and Versatility

The Chemex is fragile and requires protection when travelling. However, Chemex has released models made of stainless steel that are easier to transport.

The versatility of the Chemex allows for the use of loose leaf teas in place of coffee. The French Press is more portable and requires less maintenance than the Chemex.

It also has the versatility of being able to make cold brew coffee and Americanos.

Quality of Brew

The Chemex creates a clean cup of coffee without the need to deal with the grit and sediment that results from a metal filter. The French Press method, on the other hand, results in sediment and solid particles in the cup due to the metal filter.

Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to the quality of brew produced.


The price of the Chemex ranges from $40-$80 depending on the model, filter type, and carafe size. French Presses are more affordable, ranging from $20-$40.

The cost may vary depending on the material used and the type of filter.

Chemex Coffee

Brewing Method

History and Design of Chemex

The Chemex was invented by Peter J Schlumbohm, a chemist with a fascination for coffee and industrial design. The Chemex has an hourglass design with a conical funnel at the top, where a paper filter is placed.

The Chemex’s unique design allows for better extraction of coffee oils and flavors.

Brewing Method

To use a Chemex, place the paper filter in the funnel and soak it with hot water. Discard the hot water and add ground coffee beans to the filter.

Gently pour hot water over the coffee in a circular motion, allowing it to gradually seep through the filter and carafe. Continue pouring until you reach the desired coffee volume.

Advantages of Using Chemex

Using a Chemex has many benefits over other brewing methods. The unique design of the Chemex allows for the extraction of coffee oils and flavors, resulting in a clean and softer taste.

The use of paper filters also helps to eliminate sediment and impurities. The Goose-neck style kettle allows for precision pouring, making it possible to control the flow rate of the coffee.

The result is a coffee that is less bitter and acidic than other brewing methods.

Cleaning Process

Cleaning the Chemex is a challenging process due to its unique design. To clean the inside of the Chemex, you need to use a soft-bristled brush to dislodge the coffee grounds and filter.

The Chemex can also be rinsed with hot water to help remove any lingering coffee oil and grinds.


The Chemex and the French Press are two popular coffee brewing methods used by coffee lovers worldwide. The Chemex is a pour-over method that uses a paper filter, resulting in a cleaner cup of coffee.

The French Press, on the other hand, uses a metal filter, which allows for a more robust cup of coffee. Hopefully, this article has helped you decide which method of brewing is best for you.

In conclusion, when it comes to brewing coffee, the Chemex and French Press are two popular methods that coffee lovers enjoy. While the Chemex produces a lighter and cleaner cup of coffee, the French Press creates a bolder and more robust flavor with sediment remaining in the brew.

Each method has unique advantages and disadvantages when it comes to brewing equipment, ease of use, grind size, brew time, coffee taste, caffeine content, portability, versatility, quality of brew, and price. Whichever method you choose, the most important takeaway is to experiment and explore different coffee brewing methods to find the one that best suits your taste buds.

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