If you’re eager to brew pour-over, the chances are you’ll face a choice between the Hario V60 and Chemex. That’s because they are the standout brewers for domestic pour-over. But which is better, and how do they differ from one another? This guide will make comparisons between the two, so you’ll have a better idea of which one suits your needs.
What Is Pour-Over Coffee?
Firstly, we need to understand what pour-over coffee is and how to make it. Doing this will help us to understand the importance of the differences between the two coffee brewers.
Pour-over brews coffee using a filtration method. Pour-over coffee makers usually have a filter and dripper-like device. To brew pour-over, you pour hot water on the grounds, then the water gets to work extracting the coffee flavors and compounds. Finally, the liquid passes through a filter into your cup.
Pour-over has grown in popularity in recent years, and it’s hardly surprising why – it offers beautifully clear aromas and flavors, allowing coffee enthusiasts to detect even the most subtle notes of the premium beans. As a result, it’s also the favored brewing method of many specialty coffee outlets. In other words, if you’re serious about brewing great coffee, pour-over is worth considering.
Also Read: The 9 Best Pour Over Coffee Makers Reviews
Chemex vs Hario V60 – Side By Side Comparison
A Brief History
Both the Chemex and Hario V60 are made by companies established almost 100 years ago. Meanwhile, both are renowned in the coffee industry.
What Is Hario V60?
Hario is a Japanese company that began life in 1921 as a manufacturer of heat-proof glass. In the 1950s, Hario released the coffee siphon and slow drip brewer. Finally, in 2005, it introduced the V60 dripper. This dripper quickly became loved and respected among professional baristas and domestic brewers because of its incredible capabilities.
What Is Chemex?
The Chemex is a one-piece brewer in the shape of an hourglass invented in 1941 by German chemist Dr. Peter Schlumbohm. Its design is so stylish and iconic that it was awarded places in many museums worldwide, including New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.
Design – Hario V60 vs Chemex
Hario V60 Design
The cone-shaped dripper may seem simple, but don’t let it deceive you – a lot of thought went into the design, and it makes amazing coffee.
The dripper is at a 60-degree angle, creating its signature “V” shape, hence V60. Inside the cone are spiral ribs that allow air to escape and expand the coffee grounds. This ensures a more consistent, even extraction. At the device’s base is a large hole, and a paper filter goes into the cone.
The V60dripper is available in several colors and materials. Unsurprisingly, the plastic models cost the least, and you can get them in transparent, red, and white. If you’d rather avoid plastic, there are ceramic and transparent glass options. Finally, there is a copper version, which looks more high-end and offers better heat conductivity when brewing.
The Chemex is built from borosilicate glass. It also has a leather tie and wooden collar. As we stated earlier, the brewer is so elegant that it is a permanent fixture of many museums worldwide. Remarkably, despite being designed 80 years ago, it doesn’t look remotely dated. So, if you care as much about aesthetics as quality coffee, the Chemex is a great choice.
One of the big differences between the Chemex and the Hario V60 is that it is a one-piece device, while the Hario V60 is a separated dripper that sits on the cup. Because the Chemex is one piece, you can also use it as a carafe. Thanks to the wooden collar, the Chemex is also easy to grip, as it doesn’t conduct heat. Meanwhile, there’s a groove on the side, which ensures the beverage reaches your cup without spillages.
Once your coffee is brewed, swirl it, and you’ll see how beautiful the coffee looks in the carafe. It resembles fine wine in a crystal clear decanter. Overall, it’s a beautiful and elegant way to brew coffee.
Do you brew single cups at a time or larger batches? Both the Hario V60and Chemex come in different sizes. However, the Chemex has a wider range of options.
Hario V60 Sizes
The Hario V60 is available in three sizes:
- Hario V60 01 – single cup
- Hario V60 02 – Two to four cups per batch
- Hario V60 03 – Up to six cups per batch
The V60 02 is the most versatile as you can use it to either brew a single cup or larger batches.
The Chemex is available in a few different sizes, and it’s the best option if you usually brew multiple cups per batch.
- 3 cups – 16oz
- 6 cups – 30oz
- 8 cups – 40oz
- 10 cups – 50oz
- 13 cups – 65oz
Of these sizes, the most popular are the six and eight-cup models.
Pour-over coffee makers use either paper or metal filters to prevent the grounds from reaching your cup. However, the Hario V60 and the Chemex both use paper filters, and you’ll need filters the correct size for your brewer.
Hario V60 Filter
The Hario uses cone-shaped filter papers available in three sizes correlated to the size of the dripper you have. So, a 01 filter paper fits the 01 model, and so on.
To use the filter, you need to fold the edge and open it from the top. This produces a cone shape that is the perfect fit for the V60.
You can buy your filter papers direct from Hario or via third-party brands. However, the thickness of the paper may differ from supplier to supplier.
Chemex filters are more complex than the ones the Hario V60 uses. There are three shapes:
- Pre-folded circle
- Pre-folded square
- Unfolded half moon
The first two papers are compatible with every Chemex coffee maker except the three-cup size. The third paper shape fits the three-cup Chemex. However, you will have to fold it into the cone shape before you use it.
Chemex filter papers are thicker than the Hario V60 filter papers. This affects the flavor, required grind size, and brew time. We’ll go into detail on these elements in the next section.
Both the Hario V60 and Chemex filters have oxygen bleached and natural options, and you can choose either according to your preference.
Because both coffee makers use paper filters, you will get a sediment-free drink. However, they share other flavor similarities, too.
Both coffee brewers make delicious coffee, producing vibrant acidity and floral notes from a single-origin African coffee, a nutty, chocolatey, creamy flavor from Brazilian coffee, or any other distinctive flavors from any of your beans. This makes sense as pour-over highlights the original characteristics of the coffee beans.
If you have done everything correctly, including freshly grinding the whole beans, choosing the appropriate brewing temperature, using the optimum coffee to water ratio, controlling the extraction time, and managing the flow rate of the water, each coffee maker will brew a beautiful coffee.
However, the coffee brewed with each have subtle differences. For example, the Chemex’s thicker filters absorb more of the coffee oils and prevent fine particles from reaching your cup, leading to a sweeter, cleaner flavor. Many people like this. However, if you prefer stronger coffee, Chemex brews often taste weaker with less of a mouthfeel. However, the V60 brews coffee with more body.
Ease Of Brewing
Because pour-over is a manual brewing method, you can’t simply press a button in the way you can with an automatic drip coffee maker. Therefore, you will need to hone your technique and control the pouring speed. Standard kettles are fine to use. However, a gooseneck kettle offers more control of the water flow to ensure a great cup of coffee with the optimal extraction. Here are some brief instructions for using both coffee makers.
Brewing Coffee With A Hario V60
To use the V60, place the dripper on a carafe or a cup. Next, put your filter in the cone. Add your medium ground coffee and slowly pour water in a circular motion over the grounds. The coffee will slowly drip into your cup. When this is complete, remove the V60 and throw away the filter.
For more detailed brewing instructions, check out our Hario V60 brew guide.
Brewing Coffee With A Chemex
To use the Chemex, fold the filter paper correctly and put it in the carafe. Ensure you position the three-layer side towards the spout. Add your medium-coarse grounds. Next, pour water in a circular motion over the grounds to saturate them evenly. Now, the coffee will begin dripping into the bottom section of the carafe. After brewing, discard the filter, then serve the coffee in the elegant carafe.
Using a Chemex is easier than the Hario V60 because the thicker filter adds water resistance. In contrast, the V60 needs a more considered pouring rate, so the coffee will be weak and under-extracted if you pour too quickly.
For more detailed brewing instructions, check out our Chemex brew guide.
Brew Time And Grind Size
Both brewers make a cup of coffee in a few minutes. However, using the same beans, grind size, and coffee to water ratio, the V60 is quicker, with the Chemex taking twice as long.
We favor medium-fine to medium grounds with the V60, while we use slightly coarser grounds for the Chemex because of the longer brewing time. If you use a finer grind in the Chemex, the chances are the grounds will become clogged at the bottom of the thick filter, which can lead to over-extraction.
However, Coarser grinds aren’t essential for a shorter brewing time. As long as you can avoid clogging, you can use the same grind size as the V60 and enjoy a stronger coffee.
For your reference, we use the Baratza Encore grinder on settings of 16-20 for the V60 and 18-22 for Chemex.
Durability And Maintenance
The plastic drippers may not be as elegant as the glass and ceramic drippers, but they are unbreakable. We’ve used them for several years, and they still work perfectly, even though there is some staining on them, and the white dripper isn’t as pristine-looking as it was when new. You also don’t need to maintain it, except for a rinse under water. The plastic drippers are also more affordable, making them a great budget option.
The Chemex coffee maker is only available in glass, so it’s not as durable as the plastic V60. Meanwhile, even though the hourglass design is stunning, it’s not as easy to clean unless you have a bottle brush with a long handle. Finally, it’s a good idea to remove the leather tie and wooden handle before rinsing.
In general, the Chemex needs to be handled with care, like the museum exhibit it actually is!
Budget – V60 Vs Chemex
As we mentioned earlier, the Hario V60 is available in several sizes and materials, and they’re generally very inexpensive. So, even with a limited budget, it is only around the same cost as three Americanos in many coffee shops. The ceramic version costs more, which is price similarly to a French Press coffee brewer. Therefore, it is one of the most inexpensive ways to make coffee at home.
The Chemex is far more expensive, although it’s still cheaper than some drip coffee makers or entry-level espresso makers. In other words, it still falls into the generally affordable category.
Another issue to consider is the cost of filters, and, like the brewer itself, the Chemex filters are more expensive than the Hario V60 filters. You’ll need to pay around double for Chemex filters, so you’ll need to consider that extra ongoing expense.
As we have explained, both the Hario V60 and Chemex are highly regarded pour-over coffee makers, and there’s really no clear winner. Indeed, most of the differences in the coffee each produces come down to matters of taste rather than quality. Meanwhile, aesthetically, the Chemex is undoubtedly the winner, but it lacks the durability of the plastic Hario V60.
Perhaps, then, the most important thing to consider is your budget. If you have a limited amount to spend but still want a beautiful pour-over, the Hario V60 is the best option. However, if you can spend more and enjoy brewing several cups of coffee at a time, the Chemex is both practical and makes an aesthetically stunning addition to any kitchen.
Finally, when considering the flavor, the V60 is a great option if you like robust coffee, while the Chemex is perfect for people who like a sweeter, cleaner cup. Either way, one thing is for sure – whichever you choose, both coffee brewers are excellent for making delicious pour-over coffee.