Pour over coffee is widely regarded as the best way to experience the natural flavors of coffee. It’s a method that brings out the body and clarity of flavors from coffee beans into your cup.
Here, we compare head-to-head two well-known pour over coffee maker models: the Chemex and the Hario V60. Let’s get started!
An essential for any lover of manual brewing. A simple but effective way to brew incredible coffee right at home.
Dr. Peter Schlumbohm invented the Chemex coffee maker in 1941. It has withstood the test of time and become known as a classic brewer in the world of pour overs.
It’s important to note that the Chemex is often noted as one of the most beautiful and reliable coffee equipment pieces. You can display on a shelf and trust that it will make you great cups of coffee.
Its design and features use borosilicate glass that is heat-resistant and special paper filters to unlock the brightest flavors. The spout and Chemex coffee maker itself are designed at the right angles to let water flow at the right pace and contain the heat aromatics after you pour.
The Hario V60 is a product from a glass and ceramic manufacturer in Japan. Named after the 60-degree angle that its dripper is shaped as it also controls the pace of your hot water as it flows through your coffee.
This product comes in many shapes and sizes and is one of the most easily accessible coffee equipment pieces. Pair it with a decent gooseneck kettle and lots of practice, and you should be able to brew a great cup of coffee with some practice.
I’ve noticed that V60 pour overs are the go-to of many of my coffee mentors throughout my coffee career. When showcasing their roasted beans, or experimenting with how new grind sizes affect their brews, I usually see them bringing out the V60 and a few paper filters.
Chemex vs V60 – The Battle
Now that we’ve gone through a short intro let’s get right to comparing the Hario V60 vs Chemex in a head-to-head feature!
Chemex falls under the drip extraction method, where you rely on the design of your dripper, gravity, and technique. The Hario V60 is no different.
How does one compare against the other?
The Chemex was designed mostly as a vessel that brews coffee cleanly. Being made of borosilicate glass, it’s heat-resistant and doesn’t pass on undesirable flavors into your cup of coffee.
The Hario V60 was designed with the specific angle that works in tandem with gravity to impede hot water just enough to maximize effectiveness while avoiding over-extraction.
WINNER: Hario V60
If you want a precise, great cup of coffee, you will need to invest time and resources in mastering the pour over method via the V60. But will it be worth it? Heck yes!
The Chemex will take you anywhere from 3-5 minutes to brew your coffee. It has a large hole where the thick paper filter sits, making grind size adjustments a bit tricky.
If you grind a French Press grind size, your coffee can come out under-extracted. Hot water will flow through too quickly. If you grind way finer, your hot water can get stuck, thus soaking and over-extracting your coffee in the process.
The Hario V60 has an average brew time of 3 minutes. It depends on so many other variables like preference, roast level, and bean density, but it’s easy to feel like you’re on the right track with a good 3-4 minute extraction.
WINNER: Hario V60
Time is the most important resource, and with the V60, as long as you know what you’re doing, being engaged for 3 minutes as you brew your cup of coffee isn’t the worst thing in the world. The extra 2 minutes in the Chemex can feel like forever on some days.
Ease of Brewing
Chemex users know that the effort comes early. It’s in knowing your beans and the ideal grind sizes for your preferred flavors. After this, you just have to set-up properly.
Fold the paper filter correctly (often a challenge in itself for new brewers), rinse (remember to rinse with hot water to get rid of the paper taste), grind beans, load grounds, pour properly (remember to let it bloom) and wait.
For the Hario V60, the set-up is similar, but you will need a bit more engagement with the actual pour. As mentioned earlier, the technique makes all the difference in each cup of coffee via V60 pour over.
When it comes to simplicity and predictability of the coffee maker’s coffee, the Chemex edges out the Hario V60 a bit. From base to design to actual filters, the Chemex is just more forgiving for beginners attempting pour over coffee.
Those who own a Chemex are probably familiar with the painful feeling of having to repurpose it because of breakage. Or one of the parts wearing down over time.
As beautiful and well-designed it is, it’s also an easy target on a busy coffee bar because of its size. Even in a Chemex vs French Press argument, a Press would be easier to keep around.
The Hario V60 really shines in this area. It’s available in so many makes and finishes and is nicely sized. These qualities make it highly portable and easy to lump in with a gooseneck kettle and some filters.
Good coffee is still needed for those out of town trips. Most people prefer to use cloth filters on these trips to lessen their waste.
WINNER: Hario V60
This is probably the most uncomplicated call of the article so far.
Ease of Cleaning
This next comparison will depend on the size of your hands and the depth of your sink.
If you have big hands and a deep sink, you just need to rinse the Chemex after brewing. It’s as simple as tossing your used filter or filters and washing your vessel as soon as possible with warm water to get the oils out.
If you have small hands and a shallow sink? You increase the risk of dropping or dinging the Chemex. Damaging this beautiful piece of coffee equipment can be painful.
The V60 is similar in the sense that you toss filters and wash the dripper after making your pour over coffee. Different variants are also made of durable materials, so you tend to be more relaxed when handling it.
WINNER: Hario V60
Since both are toss-filters, rinse, and wash, it comes down to the coffee maker with lower risk to clean. The V60 vs Chemex argument for cleaning is essentially settled by how you can relax a bit more with the V60.
Coffee Grind Required
This is where it gets really tricky for the Chemex side of the argument.
Coffee beans have different roast levels and densities. Mastering coffee grind sizes takes time, repetition, and iteration.
You usually have to grind finer for Chemex brewers than usual to balance out the wide opening where your filters sit. Just to slow extraction down.
So for a pour over, the Chemex already alters the grind size aspect of how you usually like your cups of coffee with certain beans.
This is unlike a French Press vs Chemex argument. Because the Press is an immersion-style of brewing, you can afford to grind at a generally coarse particle size. The Chemex will require you to review some coffee principles and make you look at the flavor notes that should be coming out in your bags of roasted coffee.
As for the Hario V60, with great skill comes great familiarity. You know that there a medium-fine to fine range of grind sizes ideal for your pour over cup of coffee. When you have your proper technique figured out for the Hario V60, you get to appreciate each cup you have and understand the effects of your pour.
WINNER: Hario V60
When it comes to the simplicity aspect of grinding for Chemex vs pour over via the V60, Hario’s coffee dripper wins. The simplicity and clarity of the end results per cup speak louder than the batches you will have to drink through due to the Chemex’s size and its filters.
We always save the best topic for last.
As a professional barista, I discovered that people have a wide range of coffee preferences. It’s pointless to try and come up with a golden recipe that everyone will like – it’s a mirage. The alternative is to figure out what you like when it comes to coffee, and share it. Thus starting a long conversation between coffee fans of methods, best practices, and more.
As a brewer, while more straightforward to use, the Chemex requires a deeper understanding of beans and grinding coffee. If you brew right with a Chemex, you should be getting a clean, light, crisp cup of coffee.
This is the direct result of the quality of the filters that come with the brewer, and the general grind size and drip speed that people end up with. A truly enjoyable cup for those who love that particular taste and mouthfeel.
Hario V60 users, on the other hand, will quickly attest to how small changes in their workflow directly affect the resulting coffee. Whether it’s not rinsing filters properly, or pouring fast, or maintaining a bloom.
I guess due to the smaller brewing capacity of the V60. It’s made more for exploring than batch-making. So for beginners, consistency may suffer at the start. You will get a chance to understand how variables affect extraction – which makes it worth the effort.
WINNER: Hario V60
The V60 was my intro to pour over coffee. It changed what I look for when I sip coffee. While the Chemex provides me great coffee in bigger batches, this segment is about taste. In terms of taste, I absolutely prefer the Hario V60 over the Chemex.
The Final Verdict
Hario V60: 6
The pour over king (or queen)! If you enjoy light roasts and are picky about your brew, this one’s a perfect pick!
Let me explain the lopsided score. I am a homebrewer and a bit of a purist when it comes to coffee. I also brew for myself only. I believe that it is for these reasons that the outcome is what it is head-to-head. I also just absolutely love the Hario V60 for its price, coffee capabilities, and durability.
If you want a beautiful piece of coffee equipment, and you brew in big batches, the Chemex could just as well be the better choice for you. If you’re still undecided check out our list of our favorite brewers for pour over for more similar choices!
At the end of the day, discover what fits better with your preferences, and just keep brewing!