Chemex vs Pour Over Coffee Makers

Breathing in the aroma of brewing coffee is truly one of life’s luxuries. Making coffee can change the whole mood and feel of your kitchen.

As you think about your morning brew you may be conflicted over which method and maker to use. There are so many options right now that it can be difficult to choose, especially when the differences are subtle nuances.

Since making coffee should be an enjoyable experience, we’ll take a deep dive into the difference between the Chemex and pour over makers to help you pick the one that’s best for you. 

Chemex or Pour Over

chemex or pour over coffee

At first glance you may think that these two coffee makers are the same, however, there are important things to know about each when deciding if you want to use a Chemex vs Pour Over coffee maker. 

The Chemex is a singular piece, hand-blown glass coffee maker. It is a manual-style coffee maker, meaning there is no electricity involved.

The Chemex has been around since 1941 and relies on an infusion brewing method, similar to drip coffee. It produces an extremely good-tasting, bold, well-balanced cup of coffee. 

Pour over coffee makers come in many styles and sizes but are typically one or two pieces that sit on top of your coffee cup.

Pour over coffee can be customized to individual taste, though it tends to be very flavorful and smooth. In addition, this method pulls the oil and flavors from the beans without passing along the oily mouthfeel of other methods.

How Are They Made?

To make coffee using a Chemex, you will need special filters and coffee beans freshly ground to a medium course.

First, the filter is placed in the upper part of the Chemex. The side of the filter with 3 layers should face the spout.

Before adding coffee to the filter you will need to “rinse” the filter and Chemex by pouring a little hot water over it and then discarding it. Coffee can then be added.

While it is adaptable based on taste, in general, the ratio is 1 part coffee to 16 parts water. Hot water is then poured over the grounds where it will eventually drip through the opening to the bottom part of the Chemex.

The brewing process takes about 4 minutes.

how are they made

Making coffee with a pour over maker will depend on the exact maker that you have, but in general, you will place the maker over the mug or cup you wish to drink your coffee out of.

After adding a filter and coffee that has been ground to about the coarseness of sea salt you will need to “bloom” your coffee.

This is done by pouring water heated to just off boil over the grounds until they are damp and stirring them together for 30 seconds.

After this, the remaining water is poured over the grounds in a circular manner, typically using a gooseneck kettle. The water will make its way through the grounds and into your cup in about 4 minutes. 

What Are They Made of?

what are they made of

The Chemex maker is a singular glass piece. It features an upside-down cone on the top and a basin at the bottom, an opening between the two pieces allows for coffee to drip through. It was modeled after a funnel from a laboratory.

Between the two sections of the funnel, there is a wooden collar with a leather string. This collar allows you to pick up the Chemex and pour directly from it. The Chemex requires specialty filters. 

Pour over makers vary but they are traditionally funnel-shaped and sit on top of the mug or cup. They have a small opening at the bottom of the funnel that the coffee dispenses through.

While the filters used for pour over are slightly different than drip coffee filters, they can be readily found in grocery stores. These coffee makers may be made from plastic, ceramic, glass, and a myriad of other materials. 

Chemex vs Pour Over, How Are They Similar?

Both the Chemex and traditional pour over makers use a medium coarse grind and rely on a funnel shape with a filter.

Each of these brewing processes is similar to drip coffee and both benefit from the use of a gooseneck kettle. The coffee produced in each is flavorful and allows for customization depending on user preference. 

Price, Caffeine Percentage, Taste, Brew Time Comparison

brew time comparison

While cost will vary depending on the style of pour over maker you purchase, the Chemex is more expensive costing between $45.00 and $60.00 depending on which size maker you purchase.

They both have similar brew times, though pour over produces a slightly more caffeinated cup of coffee by about 5 mg per 8 oz.

Though each produces a flavorful brew, Chemex coffee tends to be smooth and well balanced, pour over coffee is more vibrant but can also be more acidic depending on water ratios and brew times.

The Chemex is one singular piece that coffee is poured from, whereas a pour over maker will require a cup or mug for the coffee to drip into.  

Chemex

  • Cost: $45-$60
  • Caffeine: 80 mg per oz
  • Components: Single glass vessel with two attached parts
  • Brew Time: 4 minutes
  • Flavor and Taste: Balanced, flavor forward, smooth 

Pour Over

  • Cost: $20-$40
  • Caffeine: 85 mg per 8 oz
  • Components: Small funnel shape to sit over a mug
  • Brew Time: 3-4 minutes
  • Flavor and Taste: Vibrant, smooth, balanced 

How To Drink Chemex vs Pour Over

Chemex

Chemex coffee is smooth and flavorful, therefore simply adding some steamed milk and sugar makes for a great coffee tasting experience.

Chemex coffee can also be used to make popular iced coffee drinks. Shaken espresso is popular right now, but you can achieve similar flavors by shaking Chemex coffee. 

Shaken Chemex Vanilla Coffee

  • 6 oz Chemex Coffee
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Syrup
  • Milk to taste

chemex

Brew your coffee in a Chemex and add it to a mason jar or shaker with 1 tablespoon of vanilla simple syrup. Shake the mixture until it is well blended and then add ice to the container.

Shake again until the coffee is cooled before pouring over fresh ice. Add milk or milk alternative and enjoy! 

Pour Over

Pour over coffee is also delicious with just milk and sweetener, although its flavor profile is also delicious if you like to drink your coffee black (meaning no cream or sweetener).

If you do want to try something different, try using your pour over coffee to make what’s known as a Flat White. Similar to a latte, this drink allows the flavor of the coffee to shine through, which is perfect for pour over coffee. 

Pour Over Flat White

  • 8 oz pour over coffee
  • Steamed milk

pour over flat white

After making your pour over coffee, add to a mug and pour your steamed milk from high up to allow the milk to just settle on the top of the coffee. As you pour, move closer to the mug.

The milk should sit “flat” on top of the coffee. This drink requires no additional syrups, simply enjoy! 

Alternatives

While the Chemex is a great coffee maker, it is nice to have a variety of options for your morning brew.

The French Press is a great alternative as it also allows the user to control the strength and taste of the brew. Unlike the Chemex, it does not require specialty filters.

Another great option is the Moka pot, which is a stovetop coffee maker. This method produces a strong and flavorful coffee as well but relies on steam and pressure. It does take longer than the Chemex. 

If you are looking for an alternative to pour over, then you may want to consider a traditional drip coffee maker.

While it does require electricity, it uses the same style of brewing and typically allows you to make multiple cups of coffee at once, compared to the pour over which usually only makes 1 cup at a time.

Another great option, if you want a faster brewing method, is the Aeropress. This method uses a plunger and pressure to brew the coffee and is ready in as little as 30 seconds. 

alternatives

Chemex vs Pour Over – FAQs 

Which came first?

The pour over method developed in the early 1900s and was part of the inspiration for the Chemex, which was pattened in 1941. The pour over method came first, both are becoming increasingly popular today. 

Which is stronger?

Both coffee makers produce a strong and bold brew and both makers allow you to control the strength of the coffee you make.

Pour over, in general, produces a slightly more caffeinated coffee, though only by about 5 mg. While neither method has the strength of espresso, these makers are not best for someone who prefers a lighter or blonde roast. 

Which is the most popular?

The pour over method is more widely known, and pour over makers can be found in most department and grocery stores.

Chemex has been becoming increasingly popular in recent years. The Chemex is better suited for use in the home, and pour over makers are easier to pack for those that travel.

There are also many coffee houses that will now provide pour over coffee to brew at your table.

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