Bodum vs Chemex

These two companies are family-owned businesses of long standing that are well-known globally. They both manufacture pour-over coffee makers. Their products appeal to all coffee lovers who want to make a great cup of coffee at home.

The Bodum company launched in Denmark in the mid 1940s then moved their headquarters to Switzerland in the late 1970s.  Today they make a line of kitchen products in Portugal and distribute them to more than 55 countries internationally. Bodum is famous for their innovative product designs and affordable retail prices. 

The Chemex company was founded in the early 1940s by a German chemist living in New York City in the USA. Ownership was passed on to an assistant within Chemex after the founder died. She in turn sold the company, and it is now headquartered near Pittsfield in the state of Massachusetts. Consumers can purchase Chemex pour-over coffee makers from specialty chain retail stores like Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, and Crate and Barrel, or online directly from chemexcoffeemaker.com

PROS:

  • Available in multiple cup carafe sizes
  • Narrow neck enables a slower drip from the paper filters
  • Carafe is made from borosilicate glass
  • Borosilicate glass can withstand high temperatures
  • Can use your own preferred coffee grounds
  • Patented paper filters are biodegradable

CONS:

  • Requires separate purchase and use of patented paper filters
  • Hand-blown glass version of the Chemex is more expensive
  • Glass carafe is breakable
  • Purchase does not include any accessories

Bodum

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PROS:

  • Retails for under $20 including carafe, filter, jacket, and scoop for coffee grounds
  • Eye-appealing design
  • Carafe and beaker are made from borosilicate glass
  • Borosilicate glass can withstand high temperatures
  • Jacket is made from BPA-free silicone
  • Can use your own preferred coffee grounds
  • Reusable stainless steel mesh filter
  • Can use a paper filter on top of the metal basket to slow down the drip and strengthen your coffee’s intensity
  • Parts are dishwasher-safe

CONS:

  • Only makes 2 large coffees at a time
  • Must use the metal filter
  • Finely ground coffee can slip through the metal filter
  • Lid is available but must be purchased separately
  • Glass carafe and beaker are breakable

Ease of Use

With the Bodum pour-over coffee maker there are removable parts, and all parts are dishwasher safe except for the cork cuff or the wrap-around silicone sleeve. The cork cuff and the silicone sleeve both protect fingers and hands from getting burned by the hot glass of the carafe by creating a barrier around its neck..

With the Chemex pour-over coffee maker it is best to hand wash the “urn” with soap and hot water after removing the wood collar and rawhide leather tie.

You can use any type of roasted coffee bean you like to make coffee with the Bodum brand, and this manufacturer recommends using a medium grind for the coffee beans. You can use a ratio of 3 rounded tablespoons of ground coffee to 1 cup of hot water. If you prefer a stronger cup of coffee, just use more coffee grounds per cup, and you can also try a finer grind on your coffee beans. The opposite would apply for those who prefer a less strong cup of joe.

Pour the freshly ground coffee into the Bodum filter and shake so that the coffee lies flat and is evenly distributed. Then begin to pour in your hot water, a little at first, to allow the ground coffee to “bloom” – that is, to bubble and rise up, which releases carbon dioxide and other gases and enhances the coffee flavor and taste. This can take about 30 seconds. Once the coffee has bloomed, you can continue to pour the hot water into the filter using a circular motion, pausing 30 seconds between each pours. Continue until you have reached the maximum level in the filter, then wait an additional 2 – 3 minutes until all the water has dripped down from the filter into the carafe.

The approach and the ratios are exactly the same for the Chemex brand with the added step of the paper filter. Here the initial bloom will take about 45 seconds. You continue to slowly add more hot water in a circular fashion from inside out in several stages pausing briefly between each stage. The entire brewing time can take 5 minutes or more depending on how big your Chemex urn is and how many cups you are making.

Filters

Both brands use filters; however, Bodum relies on a durable stainless steel mesh conical-shaped filter whereas Chemex relies on its own line of disposable paper type filters. Chemex filters come in brown (natural) or white (bleached) paper, and consumers also have a choice of pre-folded or regular paper filters.

Bodum’s stainless steel filter fits inside the glass beaker that sits on top of its glass carafe.  Chemex’s paper filters fit inside the top of the hourglass-shaped urn. Each paper filter benefits from a pre-wetting treatment with hot water so it will lie snuggly against the glass container.  You can then pour the excess hot water out from the urn before adding the freshly ground coffee.

Materials and Sustainability

Both the Bodum and Chemex brands use borosilicate glass because it can withstand higher temperatures without cracking or shattering. But as glass can break, be careful and don’t drop your carafe or beaker or urn on the counter or floor! The other major benefit of using borosilicate glass is that does not stain or absorb coffee flavors.

The Bodum includes plastic parts that are all dishwashable and BPA-free. The parts that are made from silicone are not biodegradable but are recyclable. Silicone is a non-toxic highly durable material. The stainless steel mesh filter is also non-toxic and recyclable.  There is no need for paper filters or single-use pods, such as K-cups, that add to waste.

The Chemex product includes a wood collar that is made of rubberwood and a rawhide leather tie with a wood bead. It is unclear how the leather is made or what process is used in dying the leather. It is also unknown if the rubberwood trees are grown and replaced in a sustainable manner. Neither the wood collars nor the leather ties are certified as recyclable materials.

Chemex has its own brand of paper filters which are heavier than non-Chemex paper filters.  It offers white (bleached) and brown (unbleached) filters, and both are biodegradable. The brown unbleached paper is more environmentally friendly.  

Size and Price

Bodum coffee makers come in three sizes: 4 cup, 8 cup and 12 cup. They range in retail price from about $16 to $35 US dollars depending on size and style (like one style that offers a double glass wall).  While all Bodum purchases include several accessories like the lid and coffee scoop and metal filters, buyers will still have to spend money for items such as a coffee grinder, a scale, a kettle, and coffee cups or mugs.

Chemex coffee makers comes in four sizes from 3 cup to 10 cup capacity and range in retail price from about $39 to $48 US dollars and from about $75 to $114 US dollars for handblown glass styles.  Consumers will need to spend extra money for the purchase of paper filters in addition to the other items.

Durability and Warranty

Both manufacturers offer a one-year warranty on parts not including the glass carafe or urn or beaker, and proof of purchase may be required. The beaker can be scratched, chipped, or cracked. Bodum offers a 30-day return policy on unused parts.

Which is Better

It is hard to say which of these two brands of pour-over coffee maker is better. A lot depends on your budget, where you stand on sustainability issues, and, ultimately, your personal taste in coffee.

Both Bodum and Chemex win points in my opinion for their attractive award-winning product designs.

There’s no question that Bodum coffee makers are less expensive to purchase. While their stainless steel filters do enable a small amount of ground coffee to seep through to the bottom of the carafe, a user can avoid drinking a gritty brew by simply not pouring ALL the liquid from the carafe into cups or mugs. Since most of their parts are dishwasher safe, cleaning is a breeze. Also if you maintain an eco-minded lifestyle and don’t like throwing out used paper filters, this is the best choice for you.

Coffee purists who do not mind spending a bit more, don’t mind doing hand washing, and prefer a stronger cup of joe should definitely invest in the Chemex brand. Chemex’s paper filters with their dense weave remove oils from coffee grounds and also slow down the water drip. If you’re not opposed to the disposal of used filters, this is the better choice for you.

We hope you found the perfect coffee maker. Check out all our coffee maker buying guides here.