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Aeropress vs Chemex: Comparing two wildly popular brewers

The Aeropress and Chemex are two iconic coffee brewers. Aeropress lovers swear by the Aeropress, and Chemex lovers swear by the Chemex. So in a showdown between Aeropress vs Chemex, who wins?

Aeropress overview

The Aeropress is a relatively new entrant to the coffeemaking scene as it was released in the early 2000s. Interestingly, the inventor used to make frisbees and outdoor sports equipment! He wanted to find a way to make a quick, strong, and bold coffee, and the Aeropress was born.

The Aeropress uses pressure to brew coffee. A plunger creates a vacuum inside the brew chamber, and you’ve got to use a bit of upper arm strength to push it down. As you push the plunger down, the coffee filters through the brew chamber into the mug below.

The resulting shot of coffee is intense and flavorful and reminiscent of an espresso.

Chemex overview

CHEMEX Pour-Over Glass Coffeemaker - Classic Series - 6-Cup - Exclusive Packaging

The Chemex is an iconic American coffee maker that was invented by a European inventor in the 1940s. The Chemex is a pour over brewer, which means you will use a paper filter, fill coffee grounds in it, and pour water in a circular motion over the grounds.

As you pour, the water will begin filtering through the coffee grounds, through the filter, and into the chamber below where you can see your brewed coffee in all its glory.

The resulting cup of coffee is bright, clean, and flavorful.

Comparing Aeropress vs Chemex

Comparing Aeropress to Chemex is a little bit like comparing apples to oranges. The two brewing methods are actually quite different, but one huge similarity is the use of paper filters.

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Let’s look at some of the features of each.

Design

Aeropress

The Aeropress is a simple design. It’s not meant to look beautiful, but it’s not an eyesore either. The best way I would describe it is that it’s incredibly functional.

The Aeropress is comprised of three parts: a brew chamber, a plunger, and a filter basket. The standard model can brew up to 4 concentrated cups of coffee, and is made of high quality, dark colored plastic. The filter basket houses special filters that are meant for the Aeropress.

Recently, Aerobie released the Aeropress Go, which is a smaller version of the original. The Go can brew up to 3 concentrated cups of coffee in one go, and is designed to contain all the necessary accesories in itself so it’s very easy to travel with.

Chemex

The Chemex on the other hand is a work of art. You may mistake it for a showpiece if you did not know it was a drip coffee maker!

Made from a single piece of glass, the hourglass shaped body will catch your eye. The neck of the Chemex has a wooden collar to help you grip it when pouring out coffee. The collar has a little leather tie for aesthetics.

Additionally, there is a little ridge along one side of the Chemex brewer. The ridge is meant to prevent the filter from completely sticking to the glass and creating a vacuum. A vacuum would basically prevent the coffee from dripping down into the brew chamber!

The ridge also serves as a channel and spout for pouring out your brewed coffee.

It is available in a wide variety of sizes from 3 cups all the way to 8 cups and more.

Verdict

As far as design goes, the Chemex wins. It’s just stunning. The Aeropress is incredibly functional, but it’s not the most beautiful thing in the world. While you would not mind keeping the Aeropress in your kitchen cabinet, you’ll probably leave the Chemex out for the world to see and gawk at.

Brewing and versatility

Aeropress

The Aeropress uses pressure to brew coffee. You fit a paper filter in the filter basket, rinse the filter to remove any paper taste, fix the filter basket to the brew chamber, and coffee grounds.

This is followed by adding hot water and wetting the grounds evenly. Next, you give the slurry a stir for 10 seconds, and place the plunger onto the brew chamber.

Placing the plunger creates a vacuum which prevents any coffee from dripping into the cup below.

Finally, you slowly plunge down until you hit the puck of coffee grounds and hear a hissing sound. The resulting coffee will be bold and even have a bit of foamy crema if you use the right kind of beans!

The whole brewing process takes between 1 to 2 minutes. Because you’re using pressure, you can brew quickly and still get a great cup of coffee.n n

The method above is the basic Aeropress recipe. There are many other recipes that you can follow which make cold brew in one minute, as well as varying strengths of coffee.

You can drink the shot brewed by the Aeropress straight, or dilute it with water for an Americano, add steamed milk for a cappuccino or latte.

Aeropress coffee tastes very strong and bold, and is very clean. You won’t find any grit in the cup. The paper filter also helps bring out brighter notes, so the resulting brew is uniquely bright and bold at the same time. It’s like the best of french press and pour over combined into one.

Chemex

The Chemex is a classic pour over brewer. There are special paper filters made with thicker-than-usual paper which you use with the Chemex.

For the pour over brewing method, you fill ground coffee(medium-fine grind) into the funnel and pour hot water in a circular motion, wetting the grounds evenly.

You essentially need 3 pours: the first pour is the bloom, where you’ll add around 20% of the total water to just wet the grounds and release the carbon dioxide and gases trapped in the grounds.

The second pour will be the next 50-60% of the total water, and the final pour will be the remaining 20-30%. A good way to make sure no coffee grounds stick to the sides is to give the whole brewer a gentle swirl to get the water in contact with the sides of the filter to pick up any loose grounds.

Because the paper filter is so much thicker, Chemex actually takes a bit longer to brew than a typical pour over or drip coffee.

However, the coffee is still delicious! You can make 2 to 8 cups of coffee depending on the size of Chemex that you have.

Pour over coffee made with this brewing method is bright and clean. Once you try pour over, you may not go back to any other coffee!

One way to upgrade your Chemex is to pick up the Ottomatic dripper, which will convert your Chemex from a pour over to an automatic drip coffee maker.

Verdict

While the Chemex is certainly awesome, it can’t compete with the Aeropress in terms of versatility. Even though both the Chemex and Aeropress brew clean coffees thanks to the paper filters, the Aeropress can make a much wider variety of coffee and in much less time, and for that reason, it wins this round.

Maintenance and durability

Aeropress

The Aeropress is incredibly easy to maintain and clean up. Once you’re done with brewing, just remove the filter basket and push the plunger all the way down. This will eject a neat coffee puck that you can throw out or reuse.

Then you just rinse the rubber part of the plunger and you can be on your way.

You don’t need to clean the brewing chamber every time you use it because the plunger effectively pushes everything out!

It is a good idea to rinse the filter basket, though.

As far as durability goes, the Aeropress is made of tough plastic and you don’t need to worry about any breakage. You can even toss it into a backpack or suitcase without a second thought.

Chemex

The Chemex is made of glass. It’s temperature resistant, but that does not make it shatterproof. So there’s a good change you may end up buying a replacement Chemex at some point!

The good thing is that it is indeed dishwasher safe, so you don’t need to worry about cleaning it by hand. However, you do need to remove the leather tie and wooden collar, which can be a pain. You will not have this issue if you get the model with the handle instead of the collar.

Verdict

The Aeropress is far easier to maintain, and it is much more durable. There’s no contest here.

Ease of use

Aeropress

The Aeropress is quite a foolproof way to make good coffee. The brewing method is quite straightforward, and overall, the brew is quite forgiving.

Since it’s primarily an immersion brewing method, it’s pretty straightforward. Getting the plunge right takes a bit of practice but even if you don’t plunge with precision the coffee will still turn out pretty good.

Then you just dilute or drink the shot straight and enjoy!

Chemex

Since the Chemex is a pour over brewer, there is a considerably larger learning curve to master this brewing method. That’s not to say it’s excessively difficult, but a complete newcomer to coffee may find it challenging.

You can definitely get the hang of it in a couple of brews. It’s not rocket science!

Learn how to brew pour over coffee here.

Verdict

Both of these coffee makers utilize different brewing methods, but the Aeropress is more forgiving than the Chemex. It wins this round.

Cost

The Aeropress can be bought for just under $40.

SaleBestseller No. 1
AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker - Quickly Makes Delicious Coffee Without Bitterness - 1 to 3 Cups Per Pressing
  • Popular with coffee enthusiasts worldwide, the patented AeroPress is a new kind of coffee press that uses a rapid, total immersion brewing process to make smooth, delicious, full flavored coffee without bitterness and with low acidity.
  • Good-bye French Press! The rapid brewing AeroPress avoids the bitterness and high acidity created by the long steep time required by the French press. Plus, the AeroPress paper Microfilter eliminates grit and means clean up takes seconds.
  • Makes 1 to 3 cups of American coffee per pressing in about a minute, and unlike a French press, it can also brew espresso style coffee for use in lattes, cappuccinos and other espresso based drinks.
  • Perfect for home kitchen use, the AeroPress is lightweight, compact, portable and durable, making it also ideal for traveling, camping, backpacking, boating and more!
  • Includes the AeroPress press, funnel, scoop, stirrer, 350 microfilters and a filter holder. Phthalate free and BPA free. Mug not included. Assembled measurements: 9 1/2" h X 4" w X 4" d

The Chemex is available in a wide variety of sizes, but the smallest one(3 cup) is right around the same price range.

SaleBestseller No. 1
CHEMEX Pour-Over Glass Coffeemaker - Classic Series - 3-Cup - Exclusive Packaging
  • CHEMEX - simple, easy to use with timeless, elegant design
  • All CHEMEX Coffeemakers are made of the highest quality, non-porous Borosilicate glass which will not absorb odors or chemical residues
  • The patented CHEMEX pour-over design allows coffee to be covered and refrigerated for reheating without losing flavor
  • All CHEMEX Coffeemakers are measured using 5 oz. as 1 cup
  • Use CHEMEX Half Circle Filters FP-2

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Conclusion

In this comparison of Chemex vs Aeropress, it seems that Aeropress has won every round except for design and looks. However, it is worth noting that there is one final factor which may tip you to the Chemex, and that’s if you don’t like bold coffee.

Because the Aeropress uses presseure and immersion, the resulting coffee is much stronger and bolder than a pour over, even if you use the same coffee beans.

If you’re just starting out and want an all-in-one brewer, the Aeropress is a great investment. Otherwise, it’s hard to unequivocally declare one a winner over the other!

Frequently asked questions

What is the right grind size for Aeropress?

For Aeropress coffee, you want to use a fine-medium grind, which is just a few clicks more coarse than the powdery grind you use for espresso.

What is the right grind size for Chemex?

Chemex is a pour over brewer, so you want a medium-fine grind, just a few clicks finer than a regular medium grind. However, some suggest to use a slightly coarser grind closer to straight up medium and using a little more coffee than usual as that helps speed up the brew through the thick paper filter.

Is Aeropress espresso or coffee?

The Aeropress is actually coffee, not espresso. Espresso needs to be made with a lot of pressure that the Aeropress just can’t generate. The taste is similar to espresso, though.

Last update on 2020-08-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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About Shabbir

Shabbir is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee In My Veins. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.

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