Hand-pour coffee is a very different way of making coffee than most contemporary methods. The hand-pour is a process that is more manually involved, where the speed and technique of your pour can give you radically different cups of coffee. You may be surprised to know that even in the world of hand-poured coffee, different equipment and gear is available that can give you a fresh take on the old tried and true method of brewing.
While we love and stand by the Hario v60, today we’ll take a look at the great alternative that is the Chemex.
Chemex and V60’s History and Background
A Chemex is an hourglass-shaped heat-resistant borosilicate glass vessel, with a heat-proof wooden collar and a small ridge that serves as a spout. Some models may have a handle as well.
The Chemex originated from a chemistry lab in 1941, designed by Dr. Peter Schlumbohm who wanted to make brewing the perfect cup of coffee simple and beautiful. In addition to designing the Chemex vessel, he also designed the thick filters that are used in the Chemex coffee brewing process that produce clear coffee. The Chemex is unmatched in making clear light coffees. Due to its thicker filter, it allows the light subtle tones in a coffee to shine through.
The Hario v60 was initially designed by a Japanese glass blowing company called Hario, although it’s available in many materials such as stainless steel, ceramic, copper, and plastic. It has a unique design that directs the water for better extraction.
It is a slightly trickier coffee maker as the brewing process with it requires a little more practice and skill. Because of it's this versatility there are many creative ways you could use a Hario V60.
The Hario V60 does really well with clean bright cups of coffee as it can be used to produce coffees that the coffees made by it generally have a bit of body to them.
Chemex Brewing Guide
To brew with a Chemex:
- Grind your coffee beans to a medium-coarse level.
- Heat your water to somewhere between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a thermometer. If you don't have one, boil the water and let it sit for 20 seconds
- Rinse the filter and place it in your Chemex. Ensure the triple-layered side is over the spout.
- Add coffee grounds to the filter, and ensure the “bed” of coffee grounds is level.
- Pour a small amount of water into the center of the grounds, then pour in small circles ensuring the grounds are evenly wet.
- Wait for about 30 seconds for the coffee to bloom.
- Slowly pour in the rest of the water in circles, and ensure the water spreads evenly.
Once the coffee is done brewing, simply remove the filter and grounds and your coffee will be ready to serve!
- Can brew up to 10 cups
- Complex, clear coffee
- Doubles as a carafe
- Somewhat harder to clean
- Needs special filters
- Not very portable
V60 Brewing Guide
To brew with the Hario v60:
- Heat your water to somewhere between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a thermometer, if you don't have one, boil the water and let it sit for 20 seconds.
- Measure and grind your coffee beans, a medium-fine grind works best with the Hario v60, around 25 grams of coffee grounds will suffice.
- Fold the flat edge of the v60 paper filter and place the filter in the dripper. Then place the dripper on the decanter. With the v60 you can brew directly into any container, making it extremely accessible.
- Pre-wet the filter to wash away the papery taste, in addition this will create adhesion between the dripper and the filter.
- Shake the coffee grounds in your filter to even them out, then place the decanter on your kitchen scale.
- Tare the kitchen scale to zero.
- Add enough water to the grounds to saturate them, let this sit for 30-45 seconds to let the coffee “bloom”.
- Add the rest of the water, and slowly pour the water in a spiraling motion covering all the grounds evenly.
- Add water till you reach about 300-400 grams on the scale.
- Allow the water to drain through the filter, remove the dripper and enjoy your coffee!
- Easy to clean
- Well-designed and compact
- Available in a variety of materials
- Requires special filters
- Hard to brew large amounts of coffee
- Tricky to master
Chemex vs V60 Pricing
The Hario V60 has several models available, some of which are very inexpensive. The Chemex on the other hand is a slightly pricier option. While it doesn't clean your wallet out like an espresso machine, it's not the cheapest product on the market.
Between the Chemex and the Hario V60, there really isn’t a clear winner, since each brewing system has its own pros and cons.
If you’re someone who likes to make small amounts of coffee, experiment with pouring techniques, and note the subtle changes, the Hario V60 might be a better bet. Every brewing iteration with the Hario V60 is ever so slightly different.
The Chemex gives a more consistent output and allows you to brew more cups. It is also an amazingly elegant piece that can improve the aesthetic in any room or kitchen.