You only need to practice more often if you want to become the best version of yourself as an at-home coffee brewer. Once you get there, there’s just no separating you from preparing the most delicious cups of coffee without having to go to expensive, noisy cafes and wasting time waiting in long queues.
But then manual brewing begs the following question. What is better – Chemex vs Pour Over? This is a very commonly asked question in the coffee community. We ourselves at Coffee Style Today cannot decide between the two. But then, to be completely honest, it all boils down to your personal preferences.
But here’s a quick rundown. The primary differences between Chemex and Pour Over are to be noted in the thickness of the paper filter, brewing quantity, brewing time, grind size, and taste of the final brew. Pretty much everything!
Table of Content
- What Is Pour-Over?
- Pour-Over Coffee Makers Come In Different Sizes and Shapes
- What Is Chemex?
- Differences Between Chemex and Pour-Over
- What Is Better – Chemex or V60?
- Other Most Common Pour-Over Coffee Makers
- Chemex Alternatives
- The End – What Is the Best Manual Brewing Method For You?
What Is Pour-Over?
The pour-over brewing method requires slow, precise pouring of hot water over the coffee grounds. And this should be a circular pouring motion. Water trickles into the funnel and then passes through the paper filter into your cup underneath.
Coffee lovers appreciate pour-over simply because it lets you enjoy total control over brewing.
However, the method does require precision when it comes to pouring hot water over your coffee grounds. But the final brew is worth every effort you make because it enables full flavor extraction. Plus, the paper filters give you a clean and crisp cup of coffee.
Pour-Over Coffee Makers Come In Different Sizes and Shapes
Before we describe the Chemex, let us bring to your attention that it’s just another pour-over style coffee maker. With a unique shape perhaps! And it’s this particular shape itself that differentiates Chemex from traditional pour-over.
So from now on, keep in mind that the comparison exists between Chemex and almost all other pour-over coffee makers. Meaning there’s not just one particular pour-over pitted against Chemex.
What Is Chemex?
With its distinctive shape, Chemex is a rather more sophisticated type of pour-over coffee maker. The design consists of borosilicate glass, a leather tie, and a wooden neck. And it prepares sediment-free, smooth coffee. But Chemex is a more expensive choice.
No doubt, this style of brewing, as is the case with all manual pour-over techniques, is simple and straightforward. Just the pouring of hot water using a gentle, spiral patterned movement is a bit tricky. But time and practice are sure to make you an expert at that.
Differences Between Chemex and Pour-Over
Design and Material
Pour-over coffee makers, both flat-bottomed and cone-shaped, are available in glass, stainless steel, ceramic, and plastic. Needless to say, these are compact, thus travel-friendly too. They have grooves or ridges in the cone that make way for your brewed coffee to neatly pass through the sides into the cup.
As for Chemex, it’s made of borosilicate glass with no grooves and ridges in the cone. And that’s all-glass, which makes the coffee maker more susceptible to breaking. And this means portability can be a little risky.
Pour-over brewing doesn’t take more than 3 to 5 minutes. But that’s not the case with Chemex as it uses much thicker paper filters. So the coffee can take anywhere between 5 and 6 minutes to drip into your cup.
Chemex uses medium-coarse coffee grounds. But the grind size can be slightly coarser or finer. While traditional pour-overs use a fine grind size to prepare the strongest coffee with slow pouring. However, you can dial down the strength by opting for a medium grind size with faster pouring.
Chemex works with thicker paper filters that don’t allow any sediments to get through. But then this thicker version for Chemex is more expensive and harder to find than regular pour-over paper filters.
Brewing Size and Ease of Use
You have to make an extra effort for both of these manual brewing methods. With pour-over, the brewing part, no doubt, gets easier once you get the hang of it. You can brew 1 to 2 cups of coffee per batch. So it’s a very suitable option for you alone or 2 people max.
Chemex, on the other hand, demands pre-soaking of the paper filter because it’s so thick. But with Chemex, you can prepare 3-10 cups of coffee at a go.
Taste of the Final Brew
The beauty of pour-over brewing is that it allows you to control the brewing temperature, brewing time, pouring technique, etc. So you can prepare light and smooth coffee or something more dark and bold.
And what is the quality and taste of coffee prepared using Chemex? The brewing process, since it’s longer, delivers a cleaner quality with a richer taste. With Chemex, you also get the advantage of savoring your most favorite coffee’s subtle fruity notes.
What Is Better – Chemex or V60?
In both cases, the coffee brewing method involves drip. So in many aspects, both are quite similar. The brewing time and pouring techniques are much the same.
The only sizable difference between the two takes the form of slight texture variances. And that’s because Chemex uses thicker paper filters, which means stronger coffee and less mess to clean up after brewing. Although both brewers keep sediments away from your final cup.
Also, Hario V60 prepares just one cup of coffee while Chemex, even the smallest size, makes 3 cups at once. Then comes the delicate glass construction of Chemex as opposed to V60’s plastic design that’s not susceptible to breaking. But then if you’re a plastic-free consumer, then all-glass Chemex is right up your alley. And so are these other top plastic-free coffee makers.
Other Most Common Pour-Over Coffee Makers
Standard pour-over brewing now can be done in a variety of different ways because of the wide range of pour-over tools. There’s the cone-shaped funnel (Hario V60), much like Chemex but without spiral ribbing.
Then there’s another design (for example, Sanyo Sangyo) that features flower petal ribbing. These ribs allow water to flow a bit differently to improve saturation and extraction.
You will also find V-shaped or rectangle pour-over coffee makers. The most popular style is the Melitta Pour-Over, which is designed with vertical, straight ribs.
Plenty of other metal and ceramic options exist too. So Chemex seems to be among the very few all-glass pour-over coffee makers.
To be honest, the list here is quite limited. But then there are a few that come close. Such as Bodum Pour Over Coffee Maker (but it features a permanent filter, unlike Chemex that uses paper filters). Then there’s Yama Glass Pour Over Coffee Maker, with a reusable stainless steel cone filter. Coffee Gator too has designed a paperless version of a pour-over coffee maker.
So as is quite evident, these Chemex alternatives work with reusable, permanent filters. But they all have a unique hourglass shape.
The End – What Is the Best Manual Brewing Method For You?
It’s all about your brewing preferences. If portability is not an issue, then you choose Chemex as it prepares more than just 1 cup of coffee. But if you tend to travel a lot, which means you would want to take your precious coffee maker with you, then go with traditional Pour-Over. The serving size may be small, but at least the thing won’t shatter into a million pieces.
Or you could buy both – one for your home and the other for the road. These manual coffee makers are pretty affordable, at least in comparison to automatic coffee machines that often cost an arm and a leg.