What’s Better, Chemex or French Press?

Chowhound user prolix is at a crossroads: Having just broken the latest of four glass French presses in the past 18 months (partly from moving house, not just clumsiness), could it be time for a new coffee-brewing method? Specifically, prolix is thinking about a Chemex.

French press and Chemex make totally different styles of coffee, PinchOfSalt says, each enjoyable in its own way. A Chemex produces coffee with no sediment and a lighter body, but the paper filters used in a Chemex may affect the flavor by grabbing onto the oils in the coffee. And brewing in a Chemex is fussier than brewing in a French press, PinchOfSalt says; however, cleaning a French press is more involved.

A Chemex is basically pour-over drip coffee, scubadoo97 says. If you're considering a Chemex, you might also consider a Melitta pour-over coffee system, Eiron says; it operates on the same principle, for a quarter of the price. The Melitta system is simpler to use too, Scrofula says—its smaller hole allows you to pour in four or five ounces of hot water at once, instead of the steady, thin stream of water required for the Chemex. But even though it's easier and cheaper, the Melitta still makes great coffee (though with a bit less control), Scrofula says. "You can find a similar design in ceramic, if plastic is a concern," Scrofula says.

As for the breakage issue, a Chemex is made of glass and is just as prone to break as a French press, Candy says. She notes that Bodum makes some French presses out of Lexan, a polycarbonate plastic; you can also find metal versions, tcamp says.

Discuss: French press or Chemex?

Photo by Flickr member doubleshot_cz under Creative Commons