In the pour over world, you'll likely come across two key pieces of kit: the V60 and the Chemex. They look incredibly similar - both featuring a funnel, some sort of filter paper and a vessel beneath to catch the brewed coffee. So are they the same? We unpack the (small) differences in the two devices, and why we feel it can help to have both in your coffee collection...
The V60 gets its name from the 60 degree angle from the base to the edge of the funnel, allowing filter paper to sit snug inside and filter brewed coffee through to the bottom.
This first emerged from a company called Hario in Japan, but has since been created by other companies today. Whilst the V60 shown in the image above is plastic, V60s can now be found to be made with ceramics, plastic, glass and copper.
The Chemex uses both a glass funnel and glass collection chamber below, held together by a wooden collar and leather band. Coming from a chemistry lab, this piece of kit is designed to be used with thick filter paper to make the coffee lighter in colour and more filtered than other pour over methods.
This thicker filter paper used in the Chemex puts up a very strong front against coffee sediments and oils. This can lead pour overs from a Chemex to have a slightly lighter and sweeter flavour than coffee brewed with a V60.
Whilst the Chemex pictured here looks on the smaller side (potentially a 3 cup), you can get Chemex devices to serve 3, 6, 8, 10 cups of coffee at once (that's brewing 1.5 litres of coffee)!
Pouring for Friends? Choose the Chemex
For the fact that you can brew ten coffees in under 5 minutes, and if you're with friends or family who are also into their pour over coffee, then we say go for the Chemex. This large capacity saves you tons of time if you're taking your coffee on the go with you, and have a thermos flask ready, too.
We'd also say to choose this one if you find the coffee from a V60 a little too strong of flavours. The thicker filter paper will dial back the flavours from the coffee and sweeten things up a little so it's a good match for more lighter floral single origin coffee.
Need Convenience? Choose the V60
However, if you're needing supplies often and you tend to be one of the only pour over drinkers in your household, then choose the V60. The V60 can be made of much lighter, more portable materials (such as copper and plastic). Plus, you can extract the coffee from your V60 to a mug right beneath, rather than having to carry around a large science-class-esque glass beaker.
You'll also find that more and more stores are stocking V60 supplies (filter paper, a few plastic V60s) and it's much easier to find supplies on trips away too.
When it comes to the flavour of the coffee, brewing from a V60 will filter the coffee slightly less to pack more oils and flavour into the coffee so this can be a good solution if you change up your filter coffee often and fluctuate between some darker and lighter roasts.
What About Both?
Now, it can also be a good idea to have both in stock. Why? Because it can be great to share your filter coffee with pals every now and then and encourage them to get into it - if they aren't already. Plus, some coffee can be best enjoyed by the ultra filtering you get from the Chemex, and some coffee needs those extra flavours to be kept in - which is when you turn in to the V60.
Just one thing to be aware of is: the grind sizes you'll need for the V60 and the Chemex are different! So factor this into account if you do not have a grinder at home. You'll need to coarsen up the grind even more for a Chemex, whereas a V60 allows a slightly more medium- coarse grind.