HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Nov 11, 2011 06:32 AM

French Press vs Chemex?

I had two french presses 1 that made 2 cups and one that made about 6 but i dropped the larger one this morning. The single cup serving is great when it's just me but when i have company i want to make more. should i get another french press for about $15 or try out a chemex for about $36 on amazon? I really like how thick the coffee is in a french press compared to the drip machine i don't really use anymore unless i oversleep

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I think you're comparing apples to oranges. The Chemex is essentially a drip coffer maker, while the French press produces a more complete extraction. The Bodum 1928-16US6 Chambord Coffee Press is, IMO, a better choice.

    10 Replies
    1. re: todao

      Thanks for the advice. If you don't mind me asking is this thing worth 3 times the price i paid for my last french press at the grocery store? if i didn't drop it it would still be working fine. after ll it is just a glass with a plunger and it's the same basic parts

      1. re: sportscrazed2

        It is "just a glass with a plunger" but the plunger is well fitted (in a well made press) and when properly used the plunger dramatically reduces the "leakage" of reside from the pressed mass of ground coffee into the serving mixture. You'd spend about the same for the Chemix and I'm sure a large part of the cost for that would be for the cute little polished wooden ring - and you'd still have drip coffee. IMO, the French press is the better choice at any price.

        1. re: todao

          Thanks for the advice. I do love the coffee my french press and one of my main reasons for that is how much thicker in texture it is and how much better the coffee takes. It always does leave a little bit of sludge in the bottom of cup that is always in the last sip. Do you personally own one of these? Does it do that as well. It would be worth it just so i can savor every single sip including the last

          1. re: sportscrazed2

            jgg13 makes a good point (below). I apologize if I implied that drip coffee was a bad thing. Drip coffee is a style that pleases a lot of folks. Comparing French press to drip coffee it kinda like understanding how Swedish meat balls are different from Italian meat balls, not necessarily better or worse. I own a Braun drip coffee maker. I use it regularly to prepare coffee for daily meals. But breakfast coffee or a relaxing cup of coffee at other times of the day is more satisfying when I make it using the French press. Of course, the grind used for drip differs from the grind used in the French press and the variety of coffee used in each varies, depending on the coffee experience I'm looking for. The "sludge" in French press coffee can be strained out when filling the cups but, as a personal preference, it's not particularly difficult to deal with in the cup so I don't complain.

            1. re: todao

              A Braun coffee maker is hardly the gold standard for drip coffee. It's not even the tin standard.

              1. re: taos

                I don't remember auto drip machines until the Mr. Coffee arrived on the scene.

      2. re: todao

        You say drip coffee as if it's a bad thing. You realize that many coffee aficionados will tell you that drip is the ideal method, correct? Granted, "properly made drip coffee" and not "any ole drip coffee", and there's a lot of skill & technique to make that happen.

        1. re: jgg13

          I'm talking about the Mr. Coffee that I almost never use unless I'm running late in the morning. My french press tastes 100s of times better than coffee I make in that. I like the french press because it's such a simple design and doesn't take long at all to brea good cup of coffee. I'm just curious how long does it take to brew using a chemex vs french press? i've never tasted coffee from a chemex so thats why i'm asking. it might be a good time to pick one up since i just broke my large scale french press and still have a small one

          1. re: sportscrazed2

            Yeah, that's the problem with the phrase drip coffee because people immediately think of their Mr Coffee machine :) I think that's why you tend to see the phrase pour over coffee.

            I'm no expert myself, I just know some folks who take it pretty seriously. It seems like they enjoy arguing the time thing but it seems like 3-4 minutes is the right zone.

          2. re: jgg13

            We have a Chemex and it makes delicious coffee without the sediment that always sneaks through the filter into French press. We also have a Clever Coffee Dripper. It's got the best features of both.


            A Clever Coffee Dripper *looks* like the holder for a filter drip coffee maker but it *works* like a French press turned upside down. At the bottom of the CCD there's a valve that opens when upward pressure is applied but stays closed until you set it on the rim of a cup. That means that you can steep the grounds until you have the strength you prefer. Once you've achieved that, you place it on your cup and it filters pristinely through a filter ready to enjoy.

            The value works like a charm. The price is certainly right. The coffee is delicious. And completely full to the rim of the CCD, it will brew enough to fill an 18oz insulated commuter mug.

        2. For several makes of french presses you can buy replacement glasses for - is that an option?

          2 Replies
          1. re: serah

            i did see a replacement glass on amazon that says it's universal for $10 so i might just do that

            1. re: sportscrazed2

              That replacement glass sounds like a good deal. My favorite standard coffee maker is a 5 cup Yama Vacpot. These are about $35. I also have the larger version for when I have guests over and am too lazy to do espresso or capuccino.

              You may also wish to consider the Aeropress - it's very well regarded and only $25 or so. I just ordered one to augment my collection of various coffee makers. Sometimes when I'm really lazy and just want a nice cup, I'll brew the coffee in a covered pot, and then just pour it through a very fine metal strainer. I'll get a bit of sediment at the bottom of my cup but it's very rich tasty stuff and cleanup is a snap.

          2. the insulated Bodum is well worth the money - and it won't break if you drop it. I've had the same one for years and love it.


            1. I've used an amazing amount of coffee making devices (almost as many popcorn making devices), and there actually *IS* something about the Chemex that can produce an amazing cup of coffee. But it's not the cute little borosilicate glass or the wooden and leather ring. It's the damn filters. And they'd better make an amazing cup of coffee, since they're expensive as all hell. :)

              I go back and forth between using french press (most recent one I've purchased was a 'Thermos' brand stainless steel press that can hold probably 12-15 cups of coffee), pourover/drip and using my Krups Moka Brew. They're all different 'types' of coffee. . .there's good and bad to be said for all of them.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ninevah

                Chemex and some of the other pourover coffee making devices (like the Hario VXX) have an un-constricted bottom (where the filter just pokes through), which is one thing that differentiates them from many other drip coffee filters.

                I am not a big coffee drinker, but I generally much prefer the results from a pourover style setup than French press.

              2. I've owned both and to my taste the French press makes better coffee than the Chemex. I confess that I'm partial to rich coffee with a lot of body and I found the Chemex brew "too clean" which I suspect has something to do with those pricey, extra thick filters. Something is taken out by those filters - essential oils, micro sediment - that gives the coffee a very polished but somewhat bland character (dare I say, insipid?) I know many coffee geeks insist that this clean taste is precisely what makes the Chemex superior, but it's just not for me.

                1 Reply
                1. re: opifan64

                  French press is great, if you use a burr grinder so that all the grounds are about the same size, fairly coarse. If you use a blade grinder (better called a coffee chopper), your French press coffee will be full of sediment, as those choppers are all over the place in grounds size. Fine for folks who like sludgey coffee but it's not the real deal.