Difference Between Chemex and Pour Over

Many coffee methods that employ a pour-over method will differ slightly from one another. Depending on how much coffee you want to make, the subtle differences in flavor and the choice of brewing methods are always going to make a difference. While this article will be an all-out battle between Chemex and pour-over, you should know what makes each method individual in its own right.

And if you’ve never heard of these brewing methods before, this is a great chance to learn which method sounds more appealing to you.

Chemex VS Pour Over


illustration of Chemex coffee preparation process
Chemex coffee preparation process

To start things off, Chemex is a brand name that was invented in 1941 by the Chemex Corporation located in Chicopee, Massachusetts. You will immediately notice that the Chemex brewing vessel looks just like a laboratory beaker with a funnel attached at the top. These are exclusively made from glass and will not appear in any other form. There is often a cork or wooden sleeve around the hourglass neck tied with a leather strap.

This is used to handle the vessel once your coffee is brewed. This design is meant to make many cups of coffee at a time allowing up to 3-10 cups per brewed batch. Chemex also supplies its own version of filters that are thicker than most pour-over brands. These don’t include any kind of ribbing to guide the water as it drains over your coffee grounds. Because the filter is thicker, it can take longer to make a batch of coffee averaging 5 to 6 minutes.

Because the filters are thicker, the overall taste of coffee is cleaner because it will soak up coffee oils that are called cafestol. This natural diterpene is absorbed into the filter and reduces serum cholesterol levels in your coffee. This also allows for a light-bodied cup of coffee with very little to no grit at all in the liquid.

2. Pour Over

illustration of Pour-over coffee preparation process
Pour-over coffee preparation process

There are many pour-over products out on the market and all come with different brand names and designs. But more noticeable is they are also much smaller so that fewer cups of coffee can be made. This makes this version of brewing more practical and portable for those who want to have one or two cups per serving. There are a variety of materials ranging from plastic, ceramic, stainless steel, and glass.

Due to the design differences, you might find mini copycat versions of the Chemex shape vessel to variants that sit on top of a coffee cup or a serving pot. The angle of the funnel at the top is steeper and allows standard filters including ribbed type to help funnel water into the collection vessel. These filters aren’t as thick as the Chemex version as provide fine filtering in less time averaging 3 to 5 minutes for brewed coffee.

The overall taste will still be light and smooth but will contain more cafestol than the Chemex brand. You might need to double up on filters to keep grit and coffee oil out of your brewed coffee. Some people will not mind the crisp flavor that these oils provide, also known as the bite’ of coffee. Because the funnel and collection vessel are separated, they are often easier to clean or putting into the dishwasher.

Is There a Difference Between Pour Over Brewing Methods?

man pouring hot water from kettle into a dripper

Aside from the method of how you pour hot water onto your coffee grounds, there are obvious flavor differences. The longer it takes to pour the water, the better chances you have for extracting flavors within the coffee. This makes all the difference between rushed coffee and slow-brewed coffee. The temperature of the water is also a key issue since most pour-over temps will range from 195-205F degrees.

The Japanese method is very strict and uses 175F degrees and water is poured at a tediously slow pace to control how these flavors are preserved without burning the grounds. There is also the level of coarseness that your beans are ground into. Even the thickness of the filter will matter and how the water is poured onto the coffee grounds. If you’ve ever wondered why Starbucks coffee tastes burnt, it’s because it is burnt coffee!

Both methods will require patience for the best results despite the longer brewing times needed. You can’t rush coffee if you want to enjoy the flavors that were meant to be unlocked. This is why these brewing vessels can provide excellent results if you take your time and make the brewing process work for you.

Which Brewing Method is Right For You?

Both are perfectly fine, but really, the big difference is the amount of time that you allow your coffee to bloom. If you’ve had a chance to watch the Youtube video mentioned above, this method follows a variant of the Japanese siphon method. The most critical point is the start of your pour which allows the coffee grounds to bloom. After that, the release of carbon dioxide gives you that iconic coffee smell we all love so much.

Once this is released, you can continue your coffee pour in stages. The initial pour is shorter than the remaining stages, which is designed to not shock and burn your coffee. Your water quality is also going to be a huge issue that can affect the taste of your coffee. So, you always want to use clean, filtered water to get the best results. The last thing to consider is buying a very good grinder to get ground coffee beans that produce the select grind that’s needed.

The very last thing to think about is your level of patience. If you can take the extra steps to allow your coffee to become unforgettable every single time, give yourself that extra time needed. There’s nothing worse than a poorly brewed cup of coffee to ruin your day. Yet the best compliments are from friends who try your coffee for the first time and are amazed. You’ll be glad that you decided to try the pour-over method that best appeals to you.