Plunge or Pour Over? Chemex Vs Cafetiere (aka French Press)

Chemex, Chemex coffee, French press, Cafetiere, best coffee beans in the world

It’s a topic of heated and often ferocious debate, which is tricky to answer at the best of times. The reason being that each and every coffee aficionado in the world has their own unique take on what the ‘perfect’ cup of coffee tastes like.

Hence, you’ll always have some who firmly believe Chemex coffee is better than cafetiere coffee (French Press), or vice versa.

Still, there’s no denying the distinct advantages and disadvantages both brewing methods bring to the table. A few of which we’ll now be taking a look at in a little more detail:

1) Time it Takes to Brew a Cup of Coffee

As far as the speed of the whole thing, both methods aren’t what you’d call complex or time consuming. On average, it takes approximately 4-5 minutes to brew a cup of coffee with a French Press. With a Chemex coffee maker, you’re looking at around 5 to 6 minutes. So while the cafetiere method is technically faster, there’s not exactly a great deal between the two.

2) Ease of Brewing

With the Chemex, you simply toss a filter into the vessel, add your coffee grounds and pour over the water. With a Cafetiere, you preheat the vessel, toss in your ground coffee, add the water, wait a while and plunge. Though there’s again very little between the two, you could argue that the Chemex method is just about the simplest there is. In addition, the Chemex is easier to clean than a conventional Cafetiere.

3) Portability

The Chemex hasn’t been designed with portability in mind, therefore isn’t the kind of coffee maker you’ll be taking with you on the road. By contrast, a compact and durable cafetiere can be just the thing for taking anywhere you care to go. The portability point therefore goes the way of the French Press.

4) Coffee for One or Multiple Cups

When brewing coffee for a few people at the same time, the Chemex is unbeatable. In terms of simplicity and consistent quality of results, there’s really nothing quite like it. At the same time, the Chemex is not the best option out there for brewing a single cup of coffee. In this case, it’s a dead heat between the two. Chemex takes the crown for multiple cups, though a small cafetiere would be better for brewing a single cup.

5) Quality of End Product

Of course, nothing matters more than the quality and the enjoyment you get out of the end product. From a completely objective perspective, it’s impossible to say that one of the two methods is ‘better’ than the other. With Chemex, the unique design of the device and its thicker filter make for a brighter, lighter, clearer and cleaner cup that’s uplifting and refreshing. By contrast, the French Press is known for producing a more robust, full-bodied, aromatic, rich and complex cup.


Taking all of the above into account, there’s no clear winner between the two methods. And nor does there need to be - why not enjoy the unique properties of both?

Chemex coffee and cafetiere coffee are very different products, though neither can fairly be considered ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than the other.

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