French, Chemex or Melitta: What's the difference?

If you’ve joined us for a tasting of our coffee selections, you’ve likely been introduced to three different brewing methods. If not, join us this weekend and find out for yourself, then decide your favorite. For now, let me tell you about the differences between the three:

French or Press Pot: This method uses medium to coarse grounds. The grounds are then placed in the brewing vessel and hot water is placed directly over the grounds. The coffee steeps for a few minutes, then it is stirred and finally the filter is plunged downward trapping the grounds in the bottom. The coffee is poured immediately; otherwise the grounds will sit in the coffee causing a bitter cup.

The filter is different than most, as it is metal and coarser than paper allowing more of the essential oils to find their way into the finished cup, yielding a bolder cup of coffee. The French Press pot exudes a rich mouth feel that’s thick and syrupy.   

Chemex: This process is a similar process to the pour over, or Melitta brewing method, but with a thicker filter. The special filter is placed in the top of the glass pot and the grounds (a similar grind to a drip machine) are added on top of the filter. The brewed coffee is virtually sediment-free, has a clean, crisp mouth feel and bursts with fresh acidity.

The Chemex brews coffee using the infusion method, which makes it most similar to drip coffee in terms of body and taste.  Although not as rich as the french press, the Chemex does produce a sediment free cup of coffee that shows clean and clear in the carafe and tastes just as clean with a purity and vibrancy without the bitterness, only obtained with this brewing method.

If you’re interested in reading about the history of the Chemex and how it was developed, go to 

Melitta: This brewing method is similar to the Chemex method, but it has been around since 1908 when a German inventor came up with the idea of the paper coffee filter. She found that using a special paper as a filter, instead of the linen bag or a percolator, left the coffee less bitter and without the annoying leftover grinds.

The type of filter is the main difference between the Melitta and the Chemex. The Chemex filter is much thicker and will retain more of the coffees oils and as a result, its bitterness.  The infusion method, or pour over method, is favorite among coffee lovers, as it produces a clean cup and has been around for many years. The Melitta cone filter seems to be preferred over the basket-shaped filter, as the coffee saturation and extraction is optimal in the cone shape.

Join us Saturday, May 15 and Sunday, May 16 for a tasting of Zoka Coffee Roasters Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and Wandering Goat Guatemala Quiche. These coffees will be brewed by Chemex, French Press and Melitta from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.