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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

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  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.

                2. I own both and agree it's comparing apples to oranges - but since I switched to cold-brew coffee two years ago, only my two French presses get used now. I love the bit of sludge at the bottom!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Claudette

                    Ah ... not too many folks have gotten into cold-brew. Did you get into it for the lower acidity? How do you like it? Details! I want details! :-)


                    1. re: jkling17

                      Inspired by your response to Claudette, I've just spent my morning viewing cold brew videos on youtube. I didn't know about this method of brewing. I will have to try it on a french press. If it turns out that I like it, and it sure seems like I will, I can look at buying specialty equipment.


                      Edit: That the resulting brew maintains its quality in the fridge up to 2 weeks, astonishes me.

                      1. re: rosetown

                        Oh no, another new technique I have to try now! (cold brew)

                        I also can't say enough about cowboy coffee, though I thought it amusing that there's such an enthusiastic writeup on the Wikipedia coffee brewing page. Wasn't me that put that up there, but I tend to concur.

                        Long story short -- last fall, we had 9 students up here for a 6-day class, we are off grid, everyone drinks lots of coffee, and there wasn't enough power to run a Mr coffee all day. The cowboy coffee in a big pot was great -- even got compliments -- and I further updated my technique since then to decant it into an airpot through a gold mesh fine filter. Using a glass sided saucepan helps when decanting.

                        It can really make some super coffee, if you are willing to pay very close meticulous attention for a couple minutes.


                      2. re: jkling17

                        There's a really looooooong thread about cold brew from a couple of years ago...I'll try to find it for you when I get off this !&@ iPad and back on a real computer!

                    2. Had a Chemex for years without knowing its name. Loved it until it hit the floor. Loved my two cup and six cup French press until they hit the floor. See a trend? Then I took the filter holder and placed it in the top of a silver coffee pot. Works great. Just replaced the glass on the larger French press. Yes it is a rich cup of coffee! I love good coffee and the Chemex performs just fine. Matter of preference. Considering a burr grinder. The Braun blade grinder is so loud! It rattles me at 6 am. It may get reassigned to spices. Do those old style coffee grinders with the drawer on the bottom work well? Never knew you needed them growing up because my parents only drank Chock Full O'Nuts, Folgers, and Maxwell House pre ground from a can. My father still loves the empty cans for nuts, bolts, painting and automotive related tasks. My mother forces him to get rid of surplus can when the stash gets too large.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: CCSPRINGS

                        Yes a good manual will work very well and be quiet and is quick enough for 1-2 cups. But I wouldn't want to use one for lots of coffee. coffeegeek.com has lots of user reviews of these.

                        1. re: PepinRocks

                          Easy hack for manual grinders...remove crank from top of grinder...thread on two nuts that match the threads. One will be tightened against the other to lock the top one in place. Get a cheap low RPM rechargable electric screwdriver from local do it yourself store. Get a socket wrench bit that matches the nut size...voila! Automatic grinder for as much coffee as you can take. Try Hario "skull" ceramic burr grinder...works well. Hackable, and supposedly the reciever jar has same threads on the neck as canning jars so you can make a reciever to hold more coffee ;). And, if you break the reciever, you can get new canning jar for cheap ;)

                      2. Stick with the french press. It makes a better cup of coffee for you since you already are use to it (sludge).
                        I like my bodum chambord with freshly coarse-ground beans. I found a neat trick for filtering frenchpress coffee but it requires you have something to pour the coffee from the french press into...like another unused french press beaker (glass) of equal voume. Heres what you do..

                        Go to a fabrics store and purchase a yard of *unbleached* linen fabric that is somewhat loose weave. Ideally same weave as a bandanna. Fine enough to catch particles but open enough to let coffee oils (flavor) through. You want a fast pourthrough...the coffee shouldnt sit in the filter when poured through the filter. Cut two squares big enough to fit over the diameter of the second french press beaker and allow the filter to droop down into the beaker (to hold coffee as you pour (you'll pour french press coffee though this filter into empty french press beaker - the second beaker will hold filtered coffee and filter will catch sludge). The two pieces should be layed atop one another to make a two-layer filter...this way the second layer can catch what first layer missed. Once filtered, enjoy! Cleanup is easy...flip filters over and run in sink to "reverse" the flow and release sludge...then hang to dry...filter will stain over time but will not impart bad flavors :) boil once and a while to sanitize and remove any sediment attached to filter cloth. Note this method reduces sludge, keeps flavor...does not elimalinate the sludge...on purpose!

                        1. Forgot..boil the freshly purchased linen for 10 minutes to remove impurities and sanitize. Also, pre-wet filters before using...helps them "stick" together and make a hemogenous filter when layered. Lastly, you can use one of those ceramic "pourover" deals that holds a #4 or #6 cone filter and use that to hold your filter clothes over the beaker while pouring...very small binderclips (black paperclip things) work well too..two or three around the edge of the beaker to hold the filter in place...these are good because they wont contaminate the coffee that fills the filter "cup" (droopy part that will act like a bowl that you pour the coffee into...a little ghetto, but really secure hold without breaking beaker ;)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: klickster

                            I do something similar. I start with home roasted coffee (done on P4 on a Behmor 1600 to just before or just at start of 2nd crack). Let the beans mature for 4-5 days to offgas and such, and reach their full potential. Then grind only what I need just before using.

                            First a full immersion of the grinds into water at 190-194 to brew it for 1-3 min. Then pour through a very fine metal filter from the asian market (about $3), and then through an aeropress if it's just 1-2 cups or a Chemex filter in a $5 plastic funnel if I'm making more. Works like a charm and provides a really GREAT cup of coffee.

                            1. re: PepinRocks

                              The metal screen might be a better way to go. I was originally thinking of this but didnt know where to purchase fine-mesh screen...will go to the local asian market and see what I can find..great tip :)