Chemex vs Pour Over

If you have been in the coffee world for a while, you must have surely heard the words Chemex and pour over plenty of times. While both of these words are related to coffee brewing in a certain way, you may be wondering what they exactly are and how they differentiate from each other. 

So, let’s quickly get into the main difference between Chemex and pour over before we go into the details about both of these things.

To put it simply, pour over is a coffee brewing method where hot water is poured over coffee grounds that are placed on a coffee filter, creating coffee in the process, which drips through the filter into a container. On the other hand, Chemex is a type of coffee maker that is used for brewing pour over coffee.

Pour Over

Pour over is a manual coffee brewing process where you have complete control over the brewing process, which is why it is highly preferred by specialty coffee lovers all around the world. While not as convenient as drip coffee, where the coffee maker handles everything, the advantages that come with pour over in terms of coffee quality are the reason why it is hugely popular.

Those who enjoy black coffee especially lean towards pour over, as the process for reaching the perfect level of coffee extraction is very delicate. Even though coffee extraction is very important regardless of the type of coffee you’re having, there are no extra ingredients to mask the taste of coffee in the case of black coffee, making it extra important that the coffee is brewed perfectly. 

Even though it’s not the most convenient way of making coffee, pour over coffee doesn’t rank badly in terms of convenience and brewing time either. In fact, it’s simple to brew pour over coffee when you get used to it, as all you have to do is to pour hot water over coffee grounds, and the process doesn’t take longer than 5 minutes.

While the pour over method of coffee brewing was invented almost 100 years ago, the third wave of coffee where high-quality coffee is emphasized caused pour over coffee to surge in popularity. As specialty coffee is all about extracting the complete flavor profile of coffee beans (which are often single-origin and light roasted), the brewing method has a very important role for coffee to be fully extracted.

Due to the increased popularity of pour over coffee, there are plenty of different high-quality coffee makers you can use, such as Chemex, Hario V60 and, Kalita Wave, to name a few. While all of these coffee makers have subtle differences that separate one from the other, they all serve the same purpose of brewing pour over coffee.

How to Brew Pour Over Coffee

While the exact steps may differ depending on the pour over coffee maker you’re using, the general process is the same for the most part.

  1. Place your coffee filter in the funnel of your coffee maker. The funnel could be completely separate from the carafe like in the case of Hario V60 or be attached to the carafe.
  2. If your coffee maker isn’t composed of a single part like the Chemex, where the funnel and the carafe are attached, place your funnel on top of your carafe.
  3. If you’re using a paper filter, it’s a good idea to pour hot water through the filter to wash the paper taste away.
  4. Place your coffee grounds in the coffee filter.
  5. Pour hot water into your coffee filter in a circular motion. The water you use should be enough to wet all the coffee grounds. Wait roughly 30 seconds for the blooming process to finish, and then keep adding water until you reach the ideal ratio of coffee to water.
  6. Wait until the coffee stops dripping, and remove the filter from the coffee maker.

Chemex

Chemex is a manual pour over coffee maker that was invented in 1941 by Peter Schlumbohm. It’s a glass flask that has the shape of an hourglass, where the bottom part is the carafe that holds the coffee, and the top part is the funnel where the coffee filter and grounds are placed.

Unlike other pour over coffee makers that use standard paper coffee filters, Chemex Corporation produces special paper filters to be used with the Chemex. These filters are thicker than standard paper filters, allowing Chemex to produce coffee that is cleaner by only extracting the flavorful parts of the coffee while leaving the bitter components behind. The filter is one of the leading reasons why Chemex gets a lot of praise, which is a good reminder that coffee filters are also a very important part of the brewing process.

While the thicker filter clearly brings a lot of advantages to the table, there is also a small disadvantage that comes with it, which is a longer brewing time. As the filter gets thicker, the passage of water slows down, meaning that you will have to wait longer for your coffee to brew. That being said, we feel like the advantages outweigh the slight disadvantage as the impact on brewing time doesn’t exceed a minute or two.

If you have seen a Chemex before, you may be wondering about the purpose of the wooden collar that is tied around the middle part of the Chemex. While it looks like a decor piece at first, it’s actually a heatproof handle that allows you to hold your Chemex even while it’s hot. A version where the wooden handle is replaced with a glass one also exists for those who don’t like the look of the wooden one.

While most pour over coffee makers come in two sizes that allow one and two cups of coffee to be brewed, respectively, it’s possible to find Chemex in 4 different sizes that allow you to brew three, six, eight, and ten cups of coffee, respectively.

With everything that it brings to the table, Chemex became a staple of pour over coffee, with many people swearing by it over any other pour over coffee maker. Truth be told, we also enjoy the Chemex a lot and recommend it if you’re in the market for a new pour over coffee maker.

Unfortunately, Chemex and its filters come at a higher price point than most other pour over coffee makers, which is something to consider if you are on a tight budget.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is pour over worth it?

Pour over brewing is definitely worth the effort, especially if you prefer black coffee. By combining high-quality single-origin coffee beans with pour over brewing, you will be able to produce a cup of coffee like you never did before.

Which grind size is the best for pour over coffee?

Going with a medium-sized grind is optimal for pour over coffee for the most part. If you own a Chemex, it’s a good idea to grind slightly coarser to compensate for the thicker filter that is used in a Chemex.

Why is my pour over coffee weak?

Even though there are a lot of factors that can cause your pour over coffee to be weak, the answer is an incorrect ratio of coffee to water, most of the time. By using the golden ratio of 1:18, you can ensure that you won’t have problems in the future.

Conclusion

Pour over brewing is a great way to take your coffee game to the next level, and Chemex is a great pour over coffee maker. If you’re looking to get into pour over brewing, make sure that you consider Chemex as an option if your budget allows it.

Have a great day, and enjoy your coffee!