5 Ways Chemex And Pour Overs Differ, And Why It Matters   

chemex vs pour over

Coffee is the most popular drink worldwide, but there are so many ways of preparing it. Each method of preparing coffee is unique in its own way; there’s pour overs, press, and percolation. But what’s the difference between Chemex and pour overs? 

The most significant difference between Chemex and pour overs isn’t much of a difference. Both are ‘pour over’ methods, but Chemex is a brewing system that is a type of pour over. 

So, is the case closed? Not exactly. There are other important differences between a Chemex and ordinary pour-overs that every coffee person should know. Discover which style of coffee brewing might be better for you and the key differences between a Chemex and pour over in this article. 

What is a Chemex?

chemex coffee maker
Chemex Coffee Maker

Don’t be intimidated by the unique look of this coffee maker. The Chemex is not a fancy tool or something taken out of a chemistry lab, despite its beaker-like appearance. You don’t have to be some ‘coffee expert’ to use it. 

The Chemex originated in Massachusetts in 1941. This coffee maker became the first ‘manual’ style of pour over coffee. The unique hourglass shape of the beaker allows thick paper filters to be slid into position easily without much effort. 

The cool thing about the Chemex is that it has a special thick paper filter for its brewing tools, allowing a clean, consistent cup of Joe every time. This method is better than metal filters because it removes coffee oils and makes for a better taste. 

The resulting coffee taste of a Chemex is a lighter and smoother tasting coffee, with very little grit (I’m drooling already!)

What is a Pour Over?

pour over coffee maker
Typical Pour Over Coffee Maker

Pour over coffee makers are a general umbrella that many styles of coffee making fall under, like the Chemex coffee maker. 

The general idea of pour over coffee is that you pour hot water over coffee grounds. Water drains through the grounds into the bottom of a cone, and there you have it. 

If you’re thinking to yourself, that sounds a lot like drip coffee; you’re mistaken. Drip coffee requires some sort of automation, like percolation. Pour over coffee is generally a manual process. 

At its core, pour over is a way of coffee making that allows the maker to have control over the entire process, from the water temperature to the placement of the water over the grounds. 

Some might even say that pour-over has a better taste than drip, but hey, to each their own! 

The 5 Main Differences Between Chemex and Pour Over

Filter

Pour over filters of the regular kind can be found practically anywhere. They are a fine mesh with circular filters (usually stainless steel) and have a pointed end. The pointy end allows for precise drip into the brewer, and the fine mesh ensures that no excess grounds slip through. 

The mesh is also there to catch and preserve the coffee bean oils, which is essential to the taste of pouring over coffee. 

Chemex filters are exclusively sold by the Chemex company alone. The material of the filter is thick paper, and you fold it into a cone shape and place it into the carafe. Also, the Chemex filters are one-use only and cannot be reused. 

Despite this, the paper is recyclable; therefore, Chemex filters are still considered environmentally friendly.  

Grind

The grind is also a big difference that every coffee maker should note. 

Pour overs should have a fine grind, similar to table salt, giving it a bold flavor. How does this happen? Well, the regular pour-over coffee machine’s thinner filter makes grounds tighter. This makes a perfect extraction method.

 

The grind of the Chemex is much more coarse, almost like raw sugar. This type of grind is also used in French presses. This type of grind is produced because of the thick filter of the Chemex. 

This gives the coffee a lighter, smoother flavor. 

Price 

Now, this is definitely one difference that you’ll want to take note of. 

Chemex coffee makers come at a higher price than the average pour over. The Chemex website starts listing the smaller ones at about $42 for a 3-cup Chemex, but the prices go up depending on how many cups you want per brew and the appearance of the maker. 

The thirteen-cup handblown Chemex runs about $150, so as you can see, the prices do vary. But the real cost of the Chemex comes from its filter, which is a one-use only. Therefore you’ll need to buy them to refill constantly. 

Chemex filters are approximately double the price of pour over filters, and according to the Chemex website, filters run at about $11 for 100, but this will also depend on your type of Chemex. 

High-quality pour overs, on the other hand, have a fine mesh that’s made of stainless steel, and this can be used over and over again. 

The average price of pour overs can vary, depending on how many cups the maker will yield, but some of the smaller ones will set you back roughly 30 bucks.

If you’re a coffee lover who’s on the go and likes to take your machine with you, then it should be noted the Chemex is a bit more fragile, so for travel purposes, the price of a typical pour over might be more justified. 

Brew Time 

Though the Chemex comes with a lot of bells and whistles, it does take a bit longer than pour over coffee makers. 

A Chemex will take roughly 5-7 minutes for a brew, because of the thick filter, which drips coffee at a slower pace than the pour over. 

A pour over coffee maker brews coffee in 3-5 minutes, but this also depends on the design of the machine.

  Taste

The taste of the pour over contains more cafestol (coffee oils) than a Chemex, but still, it will have a light and smooth taste. This comes down to preference, as some enjoy the ‘bite’ of coffee, and others do not. 

The perk of pour overs is the choice you have with different temperature times and the amount of time the water sits on the coffee beans, so you can play around with this until you get the perfect taste. 

The thicker nature of the Chemex means that the taste of the coffee will be cleaner, as it soaks up more of the oils, and this also reduces the level of cholesterol in your coffee (bonus!) Because of the thick filter, there won’t be much ‘bite’ to your coffee.  

Chemex vs. Pour Over In Summary 

Coffee lovers, regroup! No matter which coffee maker you decide to go with, no mistake pour overs and a Chemex are superb ways of making coffee. 

The differences between these two similar brewing methods matter significantly because every coffee drinker has specific needs when they drink their coffee, and each offers its own way of brewing excellent coffee. 

Overall, Chemex falls under the category of a pour over, but with a twist. 

The Chemex is certainly a sophisticated method that not only gives you a smooth, light taste, but its beautiful design is a beautiful touch to anyone’s kitchen lineup. 

Pour overs might be more cost-effective, but depending on the type of coffee you want, you’ll have to be picky with the kind of pour over that you buy as they come in many variations. 

Christopher Mize
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