Automatic drip coffee makers have been ruling the coffee world for a long time with the convenience they bring to the table. Considering that brewing with a percolator was the most common way of brewing coffee before the invention of drip coffee makers, the significant jump in ease of use quickly allowed drip coffee makers to get into the kitchen of every single coffee lover.
Even though convenience has been the king for a while now, the rise of specialty coffee showed us that there is more to brewing a cup of coffee than brewing it as easily and as quickly as possible.
While there are plenty of other things such as coffee bean types, origins, and roasting methods that make up an important portion of the specialty coffee experience, the brewing method is also a highly important factor, which leads us to our topic today.
As pour-over is the most preferred brewing method for specialty coffee, those who are looking to step into the realm of specialty coffee will most likely ditch their drip coffee maker in favor of a pour-over coffee maker instead. That being said, making the correct choice for a pour-over coffee maker can prove to be difficult, especially if you don’t have any prior experience with them.
For this reason, we will be comparing two of the most popular pour-over coffee makers, the Chemex, and the Hario V60, in hopes that we will be able to help you make a choice.
Differences Between a Chemex and a V60
If you’re looking for a quick glimpse at the differences between a Chemex and a V60, we got you covered.
While a Chemex uses its special filters that are thicker than regular filter papers, the filter of a V60 is of similar thickness to regular coffee filters. Due to the difference in filter paper thickness, medium-coarse grind size is often preferred for a Chemex, whereas a V60 works best with medium-fine grind size.
As a coarser grind size is used with a Chemex, the brewing time that is required for brewing with a Chemex can prove to be slightly longer than the time required for brewing with a V60.
In terms of material, a Chemex can only be found in glass form. On the other hand, it’s possible to get a V60 that is made out of ceramic, glass, metal, copper, or even plastic. That being said, the most common form of the V60 is ceramic.
A Chemex can be found in four different sizes, allowing three, six, eight, or ten cups of coffee to be brewed depending on the chosen size. A V60 can only be found in three different sizes, suitable for up to two, four, or six cups of coffee.
Lastly, a Chemex is built in a way where the dripper is one with the decanter. In the case of V60, you only get the dripper. While the V60 decanter is sold separately, it’s possible to use most decanters with the V60, meaning that you most likely already have something that would work.
To summarize, the main differences between a Chemex and the V60 are the type of filter used and the change in grind size and brewing time related to this, build material, sizes, and difference in build, where a Chemex is a combination of dripper and decanter, as opposed to V60 which is only a dripper.
What Is a Chemex?
A Chemex is a pour-over coffee maker that is made entirely out of heat-resistant glass, combining both the dripper and the decanter in a singular body, unlike most pour-over coffee makers that consist only of the dripper.
You can think of its shape like an hourglass that is open on the top where a paper filter can be placed. When coffee is poured through the filter, the coffee liquid ends up at the bottom part of the hourglass shape.
As the original Chemex doesn’t have a handle, the middle part of it is wrapped with a wooden collar that allows you to handle it without being burnt. That being said, it’s also possible to find a variant that replaces the wooden collar with a handle instead.
Despite being a pour-over coffee maker at its core, brewing with a Chemex is often considered a unique way of making coffee, mainly because of its design and the special paper filters that are used with it.
Advantages of a Chemex
The main reason behind the success of Chemex is the special paper filter it uses that is thicker compared to regular coffee filters.
The extra thickness of the filter causes coffee to have a more developed and clean flavor due to being able to block more of the unwanted components compared to a regular filter. That being said, since the Chemex filters are also known for blocking some coffee oils that give body to your coffee, some consider coffee that is brewed with a Chemex to be too watery.
Being able to choose between 4 sizes that allow you to brew up to 10 cups of coffee is another factor that puts Chemex ahead of its competitors, as most pour-over coffee makers don’t come in such large sizes.
Finally, the fact that a Chemex is both a dripper and a carafe at once is a unique design that we aren’t used to seeing in other pour-over coffee makers. This design provides Chemex with versatility and style at once, allowing it to be the center of attention.
Disadvantages of a Chemex
For the most part, the disadvantages of a Chemex are price and convenience related.
Due to its design, cleaning a Chemex can prove to be harder when compared to its alternatives, which could become a chore if you’re using your Chemex every day.
Both Chemex itself and its special filters are more expensive than their counterparts. Those who are on a budget should put the price difference into consideration and move towards a different pour-over coffee maker if needed.
Lastly, those who are looking for a travel-friendly option should most likely go for a different pour-over coffee maker as both its size and the fact that it’s made out of glass don’t exactly make it the most travel-friendly option.
What Is a V60?
A V60 is a pour-over coffee maker that can be found in glass, plastic, metal, copper, or ceramic form in three different sizes. A fun fact is that the name V60 comes from the V shape of the dripper that is angled 60 degrees.
In terms of design, the V60 is quite similar to most pour-over coffee makers. If you aren’t familiar with this design, you can think of the V60 as a coffee cup that has a platform and a hole at the bottom, which allows it to stand on top of a container while allowing the coffee to go through.
The interior part of the V60 contains ridges that allow water to be distributed evenly in the dripper, allowing all of the coffee grounds to share the same level of extraction.
Since the V60 provides a great pour-over coffee experience at an affordable price, it quickly became one of the most preferred coffee makers in a short time.
Advantages of a V60
As there are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to the material your V60 is built out of, it’s possible to customize your V60 depending on your needs. While someone who would like to travel with their V60 would prefer a more durable option like metal, those who would like to get maximum heat retainment can go for a ceramic one instead.
Regardless of the material you choose, a V60 is very portable. You should easily be able to fit your V60 into your bag without it taking a considerable amount of space.
Since the design of a V60 is pretty straightforward, it’s rather easy to clean. You should be able to clean your V60 within a few seconds, which makes it a great option for those who would like to use their pour-over coffee maker several times a day.
Finally, the V60 is very affordable. Since you’re getting a great pour-over coffee maker at a very reasonable price, the V60 is a good choice for beginners and enthusiasts alike.
Disadvantages of a V60
The main problem with the V60 comes up when a large amount of coffee needs to be brewed. Even the largest V60 can only brew up to six cups of coffee, which may not be enough for certain people.
Also, achieving consistency with a V60 may take some time. While you will most likely be able to brew a good cup of coffee every single time, you may notice differences in taste between cups, especially if you recently started using the V60.
Choosing Between a Chemex and a V60
Now that we have talked about both of these pour-over coffee makers, it’s time to see which one performs the best in which category.
When it comes to quality, you can’t go wrong with either Chemex or V60.
That being said, there is a key difference between cups of coffee that are brewed with these coffee makers.
As the filter paper of a Chemex is thicker, coffee that is brewed with a Chemex will have a clearer flavor profile and a more watery mouthfeel.
On the other hand, the end product of a V60 will have more body in comparison but also taste slightly more bitter.
In terms of brewing time, the V60 is undoubtedly the winner.
While the technique that is used for brewing coffee remains largely the same for both of these coffee makers, the thicker filter of Chemex causes the brewing process to take slightly longer.
That being said, the difference in brewing time between these two coffee makers most likely won’t exceed a minute.
With 4 different size options that allow you to brew up to ten cups of coffee at once, Chemex is the clear winner against the V60, which can provide six cups of coffee at most.
While size doesn’t matter for those who are only looking to brew a single cup, it’s an important factor to consider if you find yourself having to brew large amounts of coffee at once.
That being said, the smaller size of the V60 comes with the advantage of being more travel-friendly. If you’re looking for a single cup brewer that you can easily carry around, a V60 will be more suitable for you.
Even though the design of your coffee maker doesn’t really have any impact on your cup of coffee, we feel like Chemex deserves to be mentioned here.
With the unique hourglass-shaped design that makes it look more like a decor piece than a coffee maker, we feel like Chemex is a great addition to your kitchen in terms of aesthetics.
While the minimalist design of the V60 is definitely nothing to scoff at, Chemex is a completely different beast in this department.
As convenience is a broad subject, both of these coffee makers have some strengths and some weaknesses in this department.
While the fact that a Chemex doesn’t require a separate container for the coffee makes it quite convenient to brew with, the cost of this practicality is paid when it comes to cleaning. Due to its design, some areas aren’t easily reachable during cleaning, which could prove to be a bit of a hassle for some.
On the other hand, a V60 is easier to clean, but you will need a separate container for your coffee. While you will also have to clean this container, it will still be easier than cleaning a Chemex.
At the end of the day, the choice comes down to choosing between brewing and cleaning convenience.
That being said, if you’re planning on brewing directly into your cup, you’ll find the V60 to be infinitely more convenient in both brewing and cleaning.
As both the Chemex and its filters are more expensive than the V60 and its filters, the V60 wins out in terms of price.
Even though Chemex removes the need for buying a separate container for your coffee, the price difference in filters alone is enough to make the V60 more budget-friendly in the long run.
Both the Chemex and the V60 are great coffee makers for those who are looking to step into the world of pour-over coffee.
It’s hard for us to say that one is better than the other as they both have strengths and weaknesses, which leaves the decision to your personal preference at the end of the day.
Have a great day, and enjoy your coffee!