When it’s time to upgrade your coffee equipment, what brewing method should you choose? There are dozens of coffee methods, from espresso machines to cold brew makers, all with benefits and drawbacks.
To help you figure out your ideal brewing method, we’ve taken a close look at two popular options: the AeroPress and the Chemex. When you’re comparing these options, you have a choice between modern and classic, plus portability and elegance. Which method you prefer will depend on how you brew and drink coffee, along with your budget. Keep reading to learn all about these coffee makers — and which you should choose.
All About the AeroPress
The AeroPress is a portable coffee maker that produces small cups of strong coffee. It’s not quite espresso, but the coffee is a pretty close approximation because the AeroPress works using pressure. It’s a modern brewer, invented in 2005, and is made of BPA-free polypropylene plastic.
There are countless ways to brew using an AeroPress, but the basic method is simple. Put in a paper filter, add coffee and water, and let the mixture steep for several minutes. Then attach the plunger and gently push down. The coffee will filter directly into your cup.
Read our full review of the AeroPress here.
- Inexpensive and lightweight
- Great for camping and traveling
- Produces strong coffee
- Very easy to clean
- Health benefits of paper filters
- Hard to brew for a crowd
- Can be tricky to master
- All-plastic construction
- Must buy AeroPress paper filters
All About the Chemex
The Chemex is a specialty pour-over coffee maker. The classic model, which was designed in 1941 and remains just about the same, is an hourglass-shaped glass carafe with a wood and leather handle.
To brew using a Chemex, you’ll need the company’s specifically designed paper filters. Put a filter in the top of the empty Chemex, add medium-coarse coffee, and pour in hot water. The coffee brews into the lower half of the Chemex. When you’re done brewing, you remove the filter and serve!
Read our full review of the Chemex here.
- Beautiful classic design
- High-end glass, wood, and leather
- Produces clear, smooth coffee
- Health benefits of paper filters
- Must buy paper filters
- Heavier and bulkier
- Somewhat harder to clean
- Somewhat more expensive
AeroPress vs Chemex: Which Should You Choose?
This decision comes down to a few key considerations. Keep reading to find our complete breakdown:
What kind of coffee do you like?
You’ll probably want to consider your ideal cup of coffee. Is it concentrated and rich or smooth and clear? If you want strong, espresso-like coffee, you’ll prefer the AeroPress. If you prefer clear, aromatic coffee, you may prefer the Chemex.
Both of these brewing methods use paper filters, so either way, you’ll get the health benefits of oil-free coffee. You also won’t find sediment in your cup using either of these methods.
How much coffee do you drink?
Do you typically prepare your coffee one cup at a time, or do you like to brew for a crowd? The AeroPress is designed to produce one small cup of coffee at a time, and because it involves steeping, the process takes several minutes. The Chemex, on the other hand, can brew 3-10 cups of coffee, depending on the size you choose. You can quickly brew a pot of coffee for your whole family!
Portability vs Aesthetics
Are you shopping for a beautiful coffee maker for your home or a convenient coffee maker that you can throw in a suitcase? The glass Chemex is an elegant addition to a kitchen counter or dining table, but it’s also heavier and more breakable.
The AeroPress, on the other hand, doesn’t have a high-end feel but is incredibly lightweight and portable. Its plastic construction isn’t stylish, but it does look great next to a campfire. And if you’re really into portability, take a look at the AeroPress Go, which is even lighter and fits into a versatile coffee cup/travel case.
Whether or not you enjoy cleaning, you could probably use a coffee maker that does at least some of the work for you. The good news is that both of these brewers are fairly simple to clean, requiring much less upkeep than devices like Keurigs and espresso machines.
The AeroPress is especially easy to clean. You can wash it on the top rack of a dishwasher, but you don’t need to. When you push the plunger through, the tight seal ensures that no coffee or grounds get left behind. Once you’re done brewing, you can just pop out the filter and coffee ground puck using the plunger! Give the device a quick rinse and you’re all set.
The Chemex is also pretty easy to clean, though its hourglass shape makes it a little trickier. When you’re done brewing, you can pull out the filter and grounds, leaving no mess. Some brewed coffee will build up on the glass, however, and to clean that off, you’ll need a bottle brush. The wooden handle can be taken off, and the glass carafe is dishwasher-safe.
On this point, the AeroPress is the clear winner. Neither of these brewers is as costly as an espresso machine, but the Chemex is certainly more expensive. If your budget is tight, you may want the AeroPress. If you have a little more money to spend, take a closer look at the Chemex.
AeroPress or Chemex Coffee Maker? The Verdict
So which should you choose? If you want a versatile, portable coffee maker that you can experiment with, you’ll love the AeroPress. If you’d prefer an elegant brewer that will impress your friends and produce clear, smooth pots of coffee, try the Chemex. Either way, we hope you enjoy your brand new coffee maker!
Still looking? Read one of our other coffee maker comparisons: