Drip coffee is an all-time classic coffee brewing method. Ubiquitous across the US, water slowly dripping through ground coffee beans and a filter into a carafe has been caffeinating millions of people for decades.
But it can be a little more manual, and complex, than that though. Not to mention even more delicious. Here, we’re going to compare two darlings of the 3rd wave coffee movement to see which is best for you: Chemex vs V60.
Pour over is the best way to enjoy the great flavor of your coffee beans. So settle in whilst we break down which is the perfect pour over dripper for you. Will the Hario V60 or Chemex coffee maker come out on top?
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As coffee brewing devices go, it is a straightforward concept and technique. Once mastered, it brews incredibly bright and aromatic coffee with little to no sediment.
It’s also one of the cheapest brewing methods available as none of the equipment needed to make pour over coffee is expensive. So it’s easy to see why many coffee enthusiasts swear by this method.
First on that list of equipment is the coffee brewer itself. And the two most popular, and best, options are the Chemex and V60. Not only popular at home but it’s also the same, simple equipment used in many specialty coffee outlets – why make something so delicious more complicated than it has to be?
- Incredible tasting coffee
- You have total control
- Easy to clean
- Lightweight & portable
- Not the easiest for beginners, takes time to master
- Glass version is breakable
- Need a constant supply of filters
Hario is a Japanese company that specializes in glassware for all your coffee adventures. Over 100 years ago, they began making glass products for labs before launching their first coffee device – the siphon coffee maker – in 1948.
Today, the Hario V60 is their signature drip brewer. Its name cleverly comes from the coffee brewers’ V shape and the 60-degree angle of the sides. You can buy it in a range of sizes, made from all kinds of materials to suit you. But the design remains the same, as does the skill and practice required to make the perfect Hario V60 coffee.
The ridges on the inside of the dripper allow the brewed coffee to filter down the sides into the waiting carafe, as well as out the bottom of the filter. This allows for optimum flavor extraction from your coffee grounds and gives a very bright, aromatic coffee flavor with little to no sediment.
- Available in a range of sizes
- Timeless, sleek design
- Brews a clean, balanced coffee flavor
- Larger margin for error so easier for beginners than Hario V60
- Borosilicate glass is breakable
- Must take care not to get the wood wet
- Need a constant supply of filters
- Pricey for pour over
- Can struggle to get the right coffee filters
The Chemex was invented in 1941 by Dr. Peter Schlumbohm. And, since that time, the distinctive design shape has remained unchanged. Whilst it wouldn’t look out of place in a science lab experiment, the coffee classic is proudly displayed on the shelves of many coffee shops and in the homes of coffee lovers the world over.
Using a wide opening to support a coffee filter, the Chemex has an hourglass shape designed to make it easy to lift and pour after brewing. This also makes it easy to brew several cups of coffee at once, up to 10 cups maximum.
The collar can be made from various materials with wood and leather being two of the most popular. Chemex coffee filters are also slightly thicker than most drip coffee makers which gives a very bright, balanced coffee flavor without sediment. Plus, it’s more forgiving than other pour over coffee maker models making it ideal for newbies to the pour over game.
Psst… Want to see how Chemex stacks up against another giant in the coffee world – the AeroPress? Check out our comparison article here:
The first step is to rinse off your coffee filter to ensure it doesn’t have any lingering flavors from manufacturing. Then add your coffee grounds – you will need a different coffee grind size depending on which of the two great coffee brewers you have opted for:
For Chemex, use a medium to coarse coffee grind – picture sea salt, and aim for that.
For the Hario V60, you need a slightly finer coffee grind. Ideally, you want to settle somewhere between medium and fine coffee grounds.
Once the grounds are added start by pouring a small amount of water over them to allow the gases to escape – this is called “blooming”.
After 30 seconds or so you slowly add the rest of the water in a spiral pattern, ensuring you cover all of the grounds. This is where the power of the gooseneck kettle comes in as it gives you way more control over your pouring technique.
Once all the water has been added to the coffee grounds you just need to wait for it to finish dripping through. The whole process should take around 3 minutes then you can sit back, savor, and enjoy.
If you’ve been using an automatic drip coffee maker, this will be a little more involved than your standard morning coffee routine. But boy will it be worth it.
Coffee Grind Sizes
It’s not just the size of coffee grind required that separates the Chemex vs V60, but also the margin for error.
The Chemex is designed for a medium-coarse grind and can be quite forgiving if you use a little too fine or too coarse coffee grounds.
On the other hand, the Hario V60 is designed for a medium to fine/ medium coffee grind and small changes in grind size will yield much greater variation in the final brew. Finer grinds will produce a strong cup and may become over-extracted. Whilst going coarser will yield a weak coffee and may taste sharp and under-extracted.
The design of the funnel is the most important part of your pour over coffee maker. How the water moves through the coffee grounds will be dictated by the funnel shape which can greatly alter the flavor of your finished coffee.
The Chemex coffee maker has a wide glass funnel that tapers down to the “neck” before widening into the collection part of the carafe. Due to the smooth sides, the wet filter sticks to the glass causing all of the water to filter through the ground coffee and out the bottom of the cone.
This means that Chemex brews coffee more consistently as the water can’t make its way into your finished cup without going through the coffee grounds, avoiding weak and under-extracted coffee. However, it can also result in bitter, over-extracted brews if the grind is too fine.
In a totally different design, Hario V60 coffee drippers have ridges that swirl around the inside of the cone. These ridges allow some water to filter around the edges of the grounds and into the collection vessel below.
For those well-practiced at using the V60, the result is a cup of coffee bursting with fantastic fruit flavors that show off the nuances of the types of coffee beans used. But for anyone still mastering the art, it can brew some weak, under-extracted coffees that aren’t very nice to drink.
Both the Hario V60 and Chemex require a paper filter. These are easy to find, cheap, and often compostable too. But the two coffee makers don’t use the same filters and the type of coffee filter used does, obviously, make a difference.
The Chemex uses slightly thicker filters that are specific to the brewer, and thus, a little harder to find. But harder does not mean overly hard, just maybe a little more effort as they’re not standard so might take a little more searching.
As a result of using slightly thicker filters, no sediment makes its way into your final brew. This makes for crystal-clear coffee with bright flavors and an amazing mouthfeel – the cornerstones of the distinctive Chemex coffee taste.
Hario V60 filters are sold everywhere so couldn’t be easier to get your hands on. The slightly thinner style will allow very small particles from the grounds into your final brew but this is minimal. Whilst the result is not quite as clean as the Chemex, it’s still a lot clearer than French press coffee and also doesn’t have the oily texture.
When it comes to making pour over coffee at home, size really does matter. Specifically, the size of your brewer compared to how much coffee you need to make. Especially important when you’re paying for a filter for every time you need to make a cup of coffee.
If you want to make larger amounts of coffee, the Chemex is ideal. Not only a brewer, but it also comes with its own carafe and is available in a range of sizes from 3 cups to 13 cups.
While borosilicate glass isn’t the best for keeping a brew warm, if you want to drink your Chemex coffee throughout the day, simply pour your morning brew into a thermos. This will allow you to keep sipping perfect pour over throughout the day with minimal effort.
The Hario V60 cone comes in a few sizes but is really designed for 1-3 cups of coffee. If you’re a “one and done” type of coffee drinker then this is great – you can put the cone onto your favorite mug, brew the coffee, and you’re done. There will be no extra cleaning necessary (always a plus in my book), and it’s extremely compact.
However, if you’re more likely to need a larger batch then having to go through the process 3 to 4 times is time-consuming. Not to mention, quite wasteful in terms of coffee filters.
Although when using the Chemex or Hario V60, your skill level at making pour over coffee will also come into play.
As a general rule (and with everything else being equal), the Hario V60 can produce a better quality coffee than the Chemex.
The problem is that the V60 is also harder to use. So it takes more practice and precision to get this higher-quality brew. On the other hand, the Chemex still brews an excellent cup of joe and is more user-friendly. So you’re less likely to get a bad coffee when you first start out.
When deciding between the Chemex or V60 coffee brewers, you need to weigh up the tradeoff between a greater margin for error and the quality.
If you’re going to be using either of these pour over options every day, maybe even multiple times a day, then the V60 is probably the better option. But for a more “casual” coffee brewer, the Chemex will yield more consistently good results.
For both brewing methods, if you put bad coffee beans in, you will get a bad cup of coffee out. Make sure you only drink the good stuff by checking out our top coffee beans picks:
Choose Chemex if you want to:
- Make larger amounts of coffee (up to 13 cups)
- Have a great-looking coffee maker to sit proudly on your counter or a shelf
- Enjoy a more forgiving manual coffee brewing experience
- Drink crystal clear, cleaner tasting coffee
If you are looking for something small, cheap, and with a greater payoff, then the Hario V60 is the one for you.
Or, if you want something a little more forgiving that can brew a larger batch of coffee then the Chemex coffee maker is a better option.
No matter which you choose, they are both affordable, make the best possible coffee brew, and take up a lot less space than a bulky counter top coffee maker. So, really, there are no wrong decisions here.
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