Lately people have been asking me, "What's the difference between French press coffee and pour over coffee," or they'd ask "Alfred, which of the two do you prefer" or even "Alfred, why do you ask yourself random questions when no one is talking to you." So I decided to have a semi in-depth breakdown of the differences between the French press by Bodum and the Pour over by Chemex.
The French press is one of the easiest ways to guarantee a good and strong cup of coffee. The reason is that they use a metal filter. The coffee beans once ground release oils which have the majority of their flavor. When you use a paper filter for ground beans, you actually soak up a lot of those oils in the filter so the flavor doesn't pass through the filter and thus reduces the flavor in your coffee. The metal filter doesn't soak up the oils which allows for a more enhanced flavor coming from your coffee.
The reason the coffee ends up being a bit stronger than when you use a usual coffee maker, is because the beans are sitting there for a long time in the hot water brewing. It stands to reason that the longer you leave it the stronger the coffee.
So the key with the pour over is taking your time. Unlike the French press where you just prepare it and leave it until you're ready to pour, the pour over you need to take your time slowly pouring hot water over the beans. The major difference here is that you're trying to evenly pour hot water over the beans, not concentrating on one specific spot to ensure that you aren't burning the ground beans and to ensure that you are evenly distributing the water to allow for a fuller flavor and minimize the harshness of burnt coffee.
My personal opinion is this process takes about 5-10 minutes of active pouring and watching over it to make sure the coffee comes out perfectly.
Side note: If you are ever going to use a Chemex, definitely get a metal filter for this as well rather than constantly getting paper filters. Just a tip to save money and add flavor to your coffee (you're welcome!).
Which is better?
So I guess you're wondering which I think is better. To be honest, I use my french press every day at work because it's simple and efficient, plus I can almost guarantee that if I'm using good quality beans, I'll walk away with a great tasting cup of coffee.
I do, however love using my Chemex on the weekends where I can take my time and just enjoy the whole process of making a good cup of coffee. I'll play some music, and just work on making the perfect Saturday or Sunday morning cup of coffee.
Depending on how busy your life is I'd say start off with a good old fashioned Bodum French Press, and if you feel like you have the time to put into that morning coffee then go for the Chemex Pour Over. Let me know which you prefer in the comments.
Alfred Drinking Coffee