If you’re a lover of strong coffee and despise the foul black liquid made from conventional coffee makers, then you need to try out a pour-over coffee maker. These are super simplistic items that help make coffee a breeze. It’s just a piece of glass with a wide open mouth, a narrow neck and then a big bottom. Pour the coffee and hot water onto the top and slowly you’ll get a delicious cup of steaming brew.
In this market, there are two big competitors: Chemex vs. Bodum. Chemex is considered the traditional choice since it’s been around for many years, but let’s compare the two to see which is truly the best.
Part of a pour-over coffee maker is how it looks, as these are beautiful pieces of glass that are lovely to look at. Both Chemex and Bodum have similar shapes, but their one design element is very different.
Chemex has a thin piece of wood attached with a leather string around the neck. This only comes in one color. Bodum uses a silicone sleeve in the same area, but it comes in various colors. Chemex looks a little more traditional while Bodum has a more modern appeal, plus it comes in many colors.
This is largely a matter of preference with neither coming out on top. Chemex is best for those who love traditional looks and wood, while Bodum will appeal to those who like decorating their items with their favorite colors.
Glass thickness is important because it determines the durability of the product and how long it will keep coffee hot, with thicker glass better-holding temperature. Both Bodum and Chemex are made from handblown glass and are roughly the same, with Chemex being slightly thinner, but not by much.
However, Chemex also offers a thinner cast glass version. This isn’t quite as durable as the handblown one, but it’s about half the price. If you’re looking for an economical option and don’t mind the reduced durability, then this one might be a good fit for you. Just remember that the thinner glass won’t hold heat as well, so be sure to drink your coffee quickly after it’s finished.
Bodum includes a permanent mesh filter that is made to last for the lifetime of the product. Just clean it out whenever you’re finished and you’ll be ready for the next batch. Since the filter has tiny holes, be sure to refrain from using finely ground coffee, as it might slip through the filter.
Chemex doesn’t have a permanent filter. Instead, you have to buy Chemex specific filters in boxes of 100. These filters are shaped differently than conventional filters, and they are also significantly thicker. More on this later, but it helps produce the signature taste that Chemex is known for.
While Bodum is slightly more expensive for the initial purchase, Chemex will soon catch up or exceed the price as you buy more filters.
Filter Time and Coffee Strength
Chemex takes longer to brew than Bodum, ranging about 5 minutes in general. However, this longer brew time allows the liquid to fully soak in the coffee’s flavor, making the brew very strong and robust. If you want your coffee to be deep, dark and strong, then Chemex definitely delivers.
Bodum takes about 3 minutes in general, but the shorter brew time results in a light to a medium cup of coffee. Depending on your preference, this may or may not be a good thing. Many people use papers filters over the permanent mesh ones to prolong the brew time, which results in a strong cup of coffee. However, Bodum is hesitant about suggesting this to consumers since the mesh filter is made to allow the oils and flavors from coffee to drip through, while they say that paper soaks up much of the flavor.
Both of these brands produce several differently sized pour-over coffee makers. Chemex creates a 3-cup, 6-cup, 8-cup and 10-cup version. You can get ones with or without handles. These sizes apply to both the handblown and casted versions.
Bodum doesn’t create as many sizes, and they measure theirs in ounces as opposed to cups. You can choose between a 17-ounce, 34-ounce and 51-ounce version. These all come in different flavors for the silicone sleeve, so you’ll easily be able to find the right color and size to match your preference.
Which Works for Me?
This really is a toss-up, making it different to declare a true winner. They both have very similar designs, with only one element being truly different, and they both are made from quality glass and have similar variations in size.
The glass is also different between them. Bodum is the thickest of them, but the handblown version of Chemex is very close, plus the casted version is ideal if you want a cheaper pour-over coffee maker.
The two most different aspects of them are filter and coffee strength.
Chemex requires that you keep buying their specialty filters since none others will work properly. However, due to these filters and the smaller glass neck, it has a slower brew time that results in an incredibly deep and strong cup of coffee.
On the other hand, Bodum is faster to brew, doesn’t require any extra filters, but the coffee is somewhat weaker. You can add a paper filter to slow down the process for strong coffee, but that presents the same problems found with the Chemex.
It really comes down to how strong you like your coffee. If you’re into really harsh, strong coffee that’s as dark as possible, then Chemex is your best bet. If you enjoy a light to medium cup and want the other flavor elements to pass into the drink (like the oils), then Bodum is amazing.
Both work wonders for coffee and produce fantastic cups, but it’s this one aspect that really defines them and will help you decide on which one is perfect for your needs.