Chemex Vs. Hario V60: a Pour Over Coffee Showdown!

Every day, more people are turning to hand-poured coffee for their morning cup. Coffee shops are still as popular as ever and most of us can’t resist a proper latte or espresso, but recently people are starting to seek that same level of quality and consistency from their coffee at home (or work).

For most people, the bulky counter top coffee maker is no longer cutting it. Pour over brewers are becoming kitchen staples and an essential part of many morning routines. Even though pour over brewers are nothing new – the first Melitta filter was created in 1908 – a renewed interest in the craft has produced some standout favorites. Today, we are going to put two of the premier pour over brewers, the Chemex and the Hario V60, through a head to head showdown.

But first, introductions.

Hario V60

Hario is a Japanese company whose name means King of Glass. The company began making laboratory glass products before introducing their first coffee device, the coffee syphon, in 1946. Now their most popular product, introduced in 2004, is made of ceramic, glass, plastic, or metal.

Hario v60 White Ceramic Coffee Dripper

The name V60 comes from the design of the brewer itself. The 60 degree angle of the brewer creates its signature V shape. The inside of the cone is lined with spiral ribs from top to bottom. These ribs allow air to escape and ensure a more even extraction for the coffee. At the bottom of the cone sits a large opening, especially compared to most other brewers. This allows for more control over the rate of water flow.

Chemex

The first thing that you recognize about the Chemex is its beautiful and unique design. The glass brewer was created in 1941 by a chemist who “sought to make everyday objects more functional, attractive and enjoyable to use.”

The Chemex is the ultimate marriage of style and function. Its hourglass shape is accented by a wooden collar and leather tie. Once coffee is brewed and the filter is discarded, the Chemex double as a sleek carafe for serving.

Head to Head

Now it’s officially time to pit the two against each other. As someone who deeply loves both of these brewers, this pains me to do. Both are loved for different reasons. But choosing the right brewer for your home is a personal decision. So for our showdown we’ll focus on design, convenience, ease of use, time, and overall brew.

Design / Aesthetics

When making coffee at home, the goal is to get the best end result: an excellent cup of coffee. However, for most of us, brewing coffee isn’t purely function over form. Enjoying the process means satisfying our other senses in addition to taste. So naturally, many of us also care what our equipment looks like. Especially if we leave it out as a part of a coffee making station for guests to see.

For those who really like to have options, we’ll start with materials. While the V60 is probably most known for its ceramic option, the brewer also comes in plastic, metal, and glass. The V60 can be had in three different sizes – 01, 02, or 03.

The Chemex only comes in a glass with or without the wood collar. The option without the collar has a glass handle instead, which kind of detracts from the elegance of the original design. Both options are offered in three, six, eight, or ten cup sizes.

The Hario V60 is sleek and appealing, whether sat atop a cup or when used in conjunction with a stand. However, the Chemex is truly a design marvel. It has gotten so much recognition for its innovative design that it was given a place in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.

Round 1 Winner: Chemex

Both brewers are wonderfully designed but the Chemex’s simplicity, the contrast of glass and wood, and the recognition by world famous museums make this an easy call.

Convenience

Convenience comes down to a few things. Set up, clean up, portability.

Both brewers require a specific branded paper filter. Historically, the Chemex filters have been easier to find but since the V60’s explosion in popularity, I see plenty of shops carrying their filters these days. Plus both are readily available online. So this is a push.

The V60 brews directly into your mug or serving carafe. The Chemex doubles as a server. Either way, you’re washing the same amount of dishes. Another push.

The Chemex allows you to brew larger batches instead of just one cup, making the Chemex better for sharing or just for having more than one cup.

Which leads us to washing. You can dispose of each paper filter easily. After that, the V60, which is considerably smaller, gets a quick rinse. The Chemex on the other hand takes a bit more effort due to the hourglass shape and need to remove the wood collar. Cleaning gives the V60 the edge here.

If you’re looking for something travel friendly or something to take to and from the office, the V60 is really the only option. It’s a lot smaller than the Chemex and the non glass options make it a lot less likely to break.

Round 2 Winner: Hario V60

Because it’s both compact and easy to clean, the Hario V60 wins for convenience.

Ease of Use

Brewing with both the Chemex and V60 is not dissimilar to other pour overs. Pre wet the filter (discard the water), add fresh ground coffee into the paper filter, and pour hot water in intervals. The Chemex requires a coarser grind, while the V60 calls for a finer grind. From this standpoint, it’s hard to choose a clear winner.

One major difference here is in the branded paper filters of the Chemex. The unique, patented thicker paper give the Chemex its signature clean, sediment free cup. The filters receive a triple fold on one side and it’s important to always place the tri folded side over the spout.

As for the V60, the beauty of pour over coffee is the ability to experiment with your brews. To improve your brew, you can adjust grind size, water temp, and how you pour. Ideally, you’ll be using a good burr grinder and a gooseneck kettle. This is true for both brewers but the V60 allows for more experimentation.

But what makes the V60 so beloved also makes it a bit trickier for beginners. The V60 is a lot more sensitive to different variables and therefor, a lot less forgiving than the Chemex. The V60 can take a few more practice reps until you really dial it in.

Round 3 Winner: Chemex

Though the functions are near identical, the Chemex gets the edge here because it doesn’t require the same amount of trial and error.

Time

Usually, we’re making coffee in the morning. We’re on our way to work or just trying to get our day started. So how many minutes are each of these brewers going to set you back?

The brew time for the V60 will generally fall between two to four minutes. The larger hole at the bottom allows you to experiment with faster or longer brewing times.

The Chemex uses a filter that’s quite a bit thicker. The recommended brew time for the Chemex generally three to six minutes.

Round 4 Winner: Hario V60

If you’re simply looking to pour and go, it’s the Hario V60.

Brew

The Chemex’s distinguishing factor is its patented filter, which is significantly thicker than other paper filters. The Chemex brews one of the cleanest cups of coffee imaginable, providing excellent clarity and sweetness. When brewing with the Chemex, you’ll notice that the coffee has a tea like body and can really bring out floral notes of a coffee. There are those who say that the thicker filters also grab more of the oils that give coffees their unique tastes. This is true but it happens with paper filters in general and ultimately is a matter of preference.

* (You can buy a stainless steel Able Kone if more natural oils are what you’re after, but I’ve decided not to factor that in).

The V60’s ability to let users experiment and fine tune recipes is what takes it to the next level. When done right, the V60 produces a cup that is bright, sweet, and complex. It’s especially great for coffees with fruity notes. The V60 is versatile and is great for any home brewer looking to really hone their craft. The downside here is the somewhat finicky nature of the brewer. The V60 is capable of producing a beautiful cup, but gets points deducted for its unforgiving nature.

Round 5 Winner: Draw

It seems like a cop out but taste really is subjective. The Chemex is reliably smooth and consistent. The V60 has seemingly limitless potential to make unbelievable coffee but requires more attention and effort to get a great cup of coffee.

And The Winner Is…


This is a tough one to call. The Chemex has withstood the test of time. It has outlived countless brewing devices over the last few decades because of a perfect combination of function and design. The elegant simplicity makes it the one you want to leave out for guests to see. Or to reach for on the weekends when you want your coffee to be an experience.

The Hario V60 is popping up in cafes and kitchens all over the country (and world) and that isn’t a coincidence. This innovative brewer can truly take a coffee to the next level. It’s easier to clean, easier to store, more portable, and offers more material and size options.

Without further ado, the winner is: The Hario V60!

It combines high quality, versatility, and portability. For the investment, it offers the most improvement for your home coffee experience.