This is a Hario V60 vs Chemex coffee maker stand-off!
Come on! Were coffee lovers. Those are peaceful people, right?
The Hario v60 and the Chemex are two very popular devices for making manual drip coffee or pour-over coffee. Pour-over coffee brings out the best of the coffee bean. Delicate, smooth and incredibly flavorful coffee can be brewed with this method. This Hario V60 vs Chemex stand-off takes a look at what two of the best pour-over coffee makers have to offer.
Making great pour over coffee isn’t difficult, but it is a skill that takes a bit of practice to learn and some time to master. It’s not as easy as flicking a switch on your automatic drip machine or your fully automatic espresso machine. But, in my opinion, far more enjoyable.
When you make coffee manually you are in full control. You control the amount of water that goes through the grinds, and at which speed. Combine this with different kinds of coffee, ground at different sizes, and different water temperatures, and you have lots of room to experiment.
While this is a stand-off between the Hario v60 and the Chemex, but let me tell you up front: they are both great. This is less about finding the better method, and more about getting to know the differences between the two.
Let’s take a look at the Hario v60 vs the Chemex
What is a Hario v60 pour over cone?
The Hario v60 is a pour over cone made by the Japanese glassware manufacturer Hario. The company has been around since 1921. At first they specialized in making high quality heat proof glass ware for laboratories. In the 1940’s the company, then still known as Hiromu Shibata Works, started research an innovative glass melting technique.
The result was an extremely strong kind of glass that could withstand high temperature and large and sudden changes in temperature without breaking. They called this type of glass HARIO, which means “King of glass”.
Soon after this the company expanded into household glass. At one point they even produced tube for SONY televisions and headlights for car manufacturers. Along the way the company was renamed to Hario.
And rightly so, they are truly the king of glass.
The idea for the v60 was conceived in the early eighties but it took until 2004 for I to be reinvented, release and become a success.
The key features of the v60 are it conical design, the ribbed interior and the large hole. The conical design is v-shaped with its walls standing at 60 degrees, hence the name V60. The ribbed interior ensures a natural flow of the water. This allows for an extraction through the flow of water instead of a full emersion extraction.
The V60 comes in different sizes, materials and colors these days. There are V60’s made from glass, plastic and even metal. But the best known and most sold version is the ceramic V60.
The three available sizes have different capacities for making one or more cups of coffee at the same time. The smallest has a capacity of one or two cups, the medium sized v60 can accommodate a maximum of four cups and the largest one can brew you a whopping six cups at a time.
Hario V60 Size 01
Hario V60 Size 02
Hario V60 Size 03
My favorite version? I have a few. I personally don’t like the glass version because they seem fragile and I can be quite clumsy. I own the ceramic V60 in a couple of sizes and colors and I have the copper v60, just because sometimes I like to shine : )
The Chemex coffee maker was invented by German chemist and inventor Dr. Peter Schlumbohm in 1941. Schlumbohm had a mission to make everyday objects more functional, more attractive to look at and enjoyable to use. As a chemist he knew inside out how flavors and caffeine are extracted from coffee beans.
He translated his ambitions and his knowledge into the Chemex coffee maker. A easy to use coffee maker that makes great coffee and in a joy to look at.
Personally, I think the Chemex is beautiful. It’s timeless design and the contrast between the glass and wood are what strikes me most. And it seems I am not the only one who likes it. Famous design author Ralph Caplan described the Chemex as “a synthesis of logic and madness”.
The Illinois Institute of Technology called it “one of the best-designed products of modern times”.
The Chemex has a cameo in the TV show Mad Men, where it appears on Don Drapers counter top.
And finally, it is part of the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Quite an achievement.
Looking good is nice, but how about the coffee?
The Chemex, when used appropriately, produces a bright, clean cup of coffee. All subtleties of the coffee bean are translated into your cup. The special fitler, made from bonded paper, keeps all fines and most of the coffee oils out of your cup. There are also claims that the Chemex filter also removes much of the cafestol in the brew. Cafestol is associated with higher levels of cholesterol.
A word on filters
Both the Hario v60 and the Chemex require a special paper filter. The Hario v60 filters look the same as the filters you might use in you automatic drip coffee maker with one exception. The bottom of the Hario filters are pointed, where the standard paper filters usually have a straight bottom. The difference in shape is important for the coffee to flow into your cup at the correct rate and speed.
The Chemex uses a special filter of bonded paper that needs to be folded before placing it in the Chemex. The paper is thicker than usual which holds back more of the oils found in coffee beans. This makes for an even cleaner, smoother cup of coffee.
I recommend using the proprietary coffee filters in both the Chemex and the Hario v60. They are of great quality and although they are not as cheap regular paper filters, they are not really expensive. The Hario filters are the cheapest, you can finds them for less than five US dollar per 100. The Chemex filters are a bit more expensive. They will set you back around ten US dollars per 100.
If you are looking for a way to save on the use of filters. Whether that’s because of the cost or because of environmental concerns (although the filters and coffe drab are compostable). You could take a look at the reusable metal filters available for both the Hario V60 and the Chemex.
Be aware that this will change the taste of the coffee from both devices! The metal filters don’t filter out any oils in the coffee and they might also allow the finest of fines to end up in your cup. The only way to find out whether this difference in flavor bothers you is to try one of them out. I personally prefer the paper filters.
If you are interested in a metal filter for your Chemex or Hario, the reusable pour over coffee filter by Willow & Everett is the best. And it fits both the Hario V60 and the Chemex.
Now that we know what a V60 and what a Chemex is, it’s time to start brewing. Here are two short brew guides
Hario V60 Brew Guide
Chemex brew guide
Now, these brew methods are not set in stone. I think they are a good baseline to start with. But some may disagree. Just know that there are endless variations possible on this brew method.
There are so many ways to make a good cup of coffee with these devices. Which means you should: experiment away!
Experimenting is half the fun of making coffee manually.
When I drink the coffee I start developing my taste for I and I try to think of things I don’t like or that could be better. And then I experiment to remedy or improve the taste.
A quick example: say, I use the above method for brewing a cup of coffee in the V60. After a couple of cups I start to notice that the coffee has a higher level of bitterness than I expect from it.
I think, what could counter the bitter aftertaste?
Maybe, try a to grind the coffee a tad less fine.
Grind, brew, taste… evaluate and repeat.
So, now down to the tasting. But let’s be real. I cannot possibly give you a very representative idea of how the coffee you make in either a Chemex or a V60 is going to taste. It depends on so much. The type of coffee for one, makes a huge difference. I know I said that lighter roasted coffee do better in both the Chemex and the V60, but that doesn’t account for where the coffee comes from.
So, take this with a grain of salt. Use it as a rough guide as to the differences between the two.
Here we go…
The taste of Chemex coffee
A cup of coffee brewed in a Chemex is very smooth. The acidity is very low and the finer tones of the flavor of the coffee beans come through.
The taste of Hario V60 coffee
Coffee brewed with a Hario V60 is also very smooth. Acidity levels are very low compared to a French Press coffee, but still a tiny bit higher than in a Chemex. The taste is a little stronger, packs a bit more punch.
Honestly, the coffee from both is great. Very smooth, very flavorful and very low in acidity. I would be hard pressed to pick one based only on the taste of the coffee it produces.
Hario V60 vS chemex: a winner?
Nah, let’s not pick a winner. That would be unfair to the loser. Both are exceptional. There is a reason why they are both such a success in the manual coffee brewing community. There is no Hario V60 vs Chemex. There is only ‘and’.
But when you have to choose between the Hario V60 vs the Chemex, let you budget guide you. If you are looking for the most affordable option, I would pick the Hario V60. The smallest V60 cone is about half the price of the smallest Chemex. Also, the filters for the Hario V60 are a bit cheaper (also about half the price of the Chemex).
Still, don’t write off the Chemex. The largest, most expensive (hand blown!) Chemex still costs way less that a decent drip brewer.
My advice, buy one and put one on your birthday wish list. But that’s just me. I like coffee…
you might also be interested in our Chemex brew guide
To check it out, click the button below.