There are a lot of ways to make a good cup of coffee and the V60 and Chemex pour over methods are just a couple.
The main differences between a V60 Pour Over and a Chemex is grind size, filter paper thickness, amount of coffee made, how long it takes for the coffee to drain and the ultimate taste of the coffee
Now I will go into further detail on the differences between the two as well as the pros and cons of them both. But before I do, lets start with:
What Is Pour Over Coffee?
Pour-over coffee brewing is a convenient way of making a smooth and flavorful coffee, and so it should come as no surprise that more and more people are leaving hefty machines behind and instead opting to go for pour-overs for day to day drinking.
The pour-over market is dominated by two main ‘devices’ at the moment; the Hario V60 and the Chemex. They are rather different to each other, and you may end up wanting both or picking just one, depending on your coffee preferences. Take a look with me at each of these pour over coffee brewers , and the pros and cons of them:
The Hario V60 coffee dripping system is made in Japan, and it is a portable, handy and simple way of making a great cup of coffee. It has quickly racked up a large following, because it is such a minimalistic design. The Hario V60 is so named because it is V-shaped, and the sides are angled at 60 degrees. There are several distinct ridges in the interior, and that, combined with the angled walls, is what helps to ensure that there is a steady, even flow of water and air over the coffee grounds.
The V60 has a large hole at the bottom, and you place the filter into the top. It takes a little while to learn how to make the perfect cup of coffee with a V60 dripper, because the pour speed, and the rhythm and angle of your pour, will affect how strong the coffee comes out.
It’s easy to learn, but does take practice. (You can check out my home coffee brewing article for tips). You fold and fit the filter into the top of the brewer, add the coffee, and then pour water into the top using a slow, steady spiral motion. Once you’re used to the process, it takes only two to three minutes to make a cup of coffee. You can get the V60 in a few different sizes, from single cup to ones for brewing a larger pot.
- Easy to learn to use
- Very affordable
- You can tweak the strength by using different filters/pouring at different speeds
- It takes a few minutes to make a cup of coffee
- It takes a while to master the pour
- You will need a good coffee grinder ( My Review)
- Requires paper filters
The Chemex is a rather more sophisticated take on making a pour-over. It has a distinctive shape, and it also just looks and feels more, well, more “sophisticated”. It is made from glass, with a wooden neck and a leather tie. It looks stunning, and it’s a great way of making a smooth, sediment-free pour-over coffee, but comes with a hefty price tag (at least compared to that of the Hario V60)
The Chemex is a jug with a coke shaped top, which is designed to take the filter. Once you’ve made the coffee, the brewer can be used as a carafe, and there is a small groove molded into the side, which is intended to be used as the spout once you have taken out the filter.
Everything about the Chemex screams quality, and it’s the sort of thing that you will want to leave out in plain sight when it’s not in use (unlike the Hario V60, which is purely utilitarian). The Chemex is fairly easy to use, too. Just put the filters onto the carafe, add your grounds, and then slowly pour over the hot water, using spiral motions just like with the Hario V60.
- Looks stunning
- Robust construction
- Makes a great sediment-free coffee
- More expensive than the Hario V60
- Takes some time to get used to pouring to get the right strength of coffee
- Requires paper filters
Which is Better? The V60 or The Chemex
Both of these coffee makers are drippers, and in a lot of respects, they are very similar. They both produce coffee at around about the same speed, and they both rely on similar pouring methods. There are some slight differences. Because they use different filters, you will get slightly different textures out of both of them. Neither coffee has an issue with sediment; they both produce good drinks. The difference comes down to whether you care about smoothness, or want something more ‘refreshing’.
Actually, the filters are worth mentioning. Both of these devices rely on paper filters, and that means you will need to buy filters to make your coffee. If you’re used to mesh filters in a cheaper coffee machine that might irritate you. A pack of 250 filters will last most families a very long time though, and costs very little.
Both of these dripper makers are established brands that aren’t going anywhere, so you don’t have to worry about ending up with a pour over that you can’t use because you can’t find the right type of filter. If anything, the only thing that might cause the odd issue is remembering that you need a specific coarseness of grind. You should probably invest in a hand grinder and buy your own beans, instead of buying pre-ground coffee that might be too fine. You can check out my article about coffee brewing for more tips and suggestions
If there are any differences to note, it would be that the smallest Chemex is intended to make three cups of coffee, while the smallest Hario V60 is a single-cup model. So, if you’re a solo coffee drinker you might prefer the Hario V60 just for the smaller size and simplicity. You can get much bigger pour overs that will make six cups of coffee, too. So the flexibility is there with both versions.
Some people prefer the Chemex for its glass and wood construction. There are ceramic / glass Hario versions available but the one that is most commonly sold is a plastic model. If you’re looking to reduce the amount of plastic that you use then you might think that the Chemex is worth the heavier price tag. On the other hand, the plastic Hario V60 that you can find on Amazon is near-indestructible, so you can take it with you when you’re on the road (or take it to work) and not have to worry about it breaking.
The Chemex is far more delicate, but because it looks so nice it is likely to sit in pride of place on your kitchen countertop. It is certainly a much nicer display object than a standard coffee maker. If you’re serious about coffee, then you might want to add a kettle with a swan neck, so that you can pour more easily. Standard lipped kettles are fine for pouring into mugs, but don’t give the control that you need for this kind of fine work.
Both the Hario V60 and the Chemex use paper filters. If you’re used to an electric coffee maker with a metal, washable filter that might be a bit annoying. Filters are inexpensive, though, and you can compost them if you wish after use, to reduce waste.
One important difference between the two is that the Chemex uses a thicker filter, which means that it is a little bit harder to mess up the pour. You still need to get the circle motion down properly to get a great cup of coffee, but you’re not likely to make something completely worthless if you don’t do it right. The Hario V60 filters aren’t so thick, and it’s easy to make a coffee that is too weak, especially if you’re just learning how to use it, or even working with an unfamiliar kettle.
Both Are Attractive Brewing Options
Both of these coffee brewers are great options, but for different reasons. If you spend a lot of time on the road and you want something that you can take with you that is affordable (so easy to replace if you lose it), and rugged, then a V60 is a nice choice. The V60 is also good for people who love coffee and who just want to make the odd cup here and there at home. If you have a high-quality grinder you can make up ‘just enough’ fresh coffee whenever the mood strikes. That kind of convenience is hard to beat.
The Chemex is a good coffee maker too. (I have an article with a step by step brewing process) It looks lovely, it feels luxurious, and it produces a reliable, smooth brew. That makes it an attractive choice for people that are very particular about how their coffee tastes. It is also slightly easier to use. It’s intended to make more cups, but you can just pour less water if you wish and don’t forget to change the amount of coffee at the same time. The price of a Chemex on Amazon, while more expensive, isn’t prohibitively so either. If you’re a coffee lover you have probably spent far more on a filter coffee maker at some point. A cheap filter coffee maker doesn’t look good and isn’t exactly fun to use. A Chemex will give you far more bang for your buck.
In the end it really comes down to personal preference. If the price is a factor then the V60 is a bargain, and wins by default. If not, then it comes down to looks and convenience. If you have used both and prefer one over the other lets us know! If you are interested to see how a Chemex compares to a French Press, check out my review.