Hario V60 Review
Perfection doesn’t always come in a shiny electronic gadget. Sometimes the simplest tools are better than the most complex machines. If you are a do-it-yourselfer (like me), then manual coffee holds a special place in your heart.
And if you love manual coffee then you should become familiar with the Hario V60 dripper. So let’s take a closer look at the pour over professional’s tool of choice in my review of the vee-sixty dripper by Hario.
The V60 'In a Nutshell'
The Hario V60 features a simple design that allows you to achieve an amazing cup of coffee by perfecting your own method. The tool was made to be as “out of the way” as possible, allowing you to focus on all the other parts of the process.
As such, it is not an easy device to master and takes some serious patience and know-how. Even for a pour over dripper, the V60 is quite inexpensive and comes in a range of design options. If you’re looking for a tool to highlight your growing expertise, this brewer is an excellent way to go.
Before Choosing a Pour Over Coffee Maker, Consider this.
If a steaming mug of “not your grandfather’s” coffee is what you crave, then there is no better method than pour over. With a practiced hand, the slow method of pour over brewing can bring out the subtle and complex flavors of your beans.
Automated methods, can do a decent job (for a price), but they won’t give you the flexibility needed to crack open the delicate notes of different roasts. Manual pour over, on the other hand, allows you customize each brew to your specific preferences.
Though this method doesn’t take a lot of time it does demand your undivided attention. Take your eyes off of a pour over brew at the wrong time and boom, disaster.
With that in mind, pour over coffee isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for a quick, no-fuss cup of joe, then I’d recommend looking elsewhere.
Although more expensive, an automated drip machine may be a good choice for the brewer on the go. However, for roughly the same price as the V60, you could pick up an immersion style brewer (like a French press or an AeroPress) to enjoy the hands-on approach without the fuss.
If you’re still on board for a pour over brewer, here are a few things to keep in mind before making your selection:
- How steep is the learning curve for that particular brewer?
- What material is it made out of?
- How much coffee does it make?
The Hario V60 Review
The V60 is the omega in hand-crafted coffee.
That may seem like a big claim to make, but with the V60 there is hardly any barrier between you and your beans.
Compared to other pour over brewers this Hario dripper is extremely simple and therefore entirely open.
Think of it as the Chrome to your Safari: not quite as convenient, but a completely open-source platform.
A tool like this will allow you customize and improve each part of your process to create an unparalleled cup of coffee.
Other brewers will do a solid job but are more specialized and therefore more limited.
This brewer is best for someone with a good deal of experience, patience, and desire to learn. The V60 is an unforgiving brewer and requires quite a bit of love and attention before it’ll deliver the perfect brew.
It’s All Up to You!
Unlike most other pour over brewers, the V60 has a rather large hole at the bottom of its cone.
At first glance, this may seem like a drawback. However, it is this large hole that makes this pour over dripper the tool of the pros.
Instead of a few tiny holes, a smaller grind size and careful pouring are what determine the rate of flow.
In addition to the large hole, the extremely thin paper filters lend to this ultra-manual attitude.
The V60 uses some of the thinnest paper filters to keep water flowing smoothly without interruption.
Using grind size and pour rate to control the water flow puts mastery of the brew almost entirely in your hands.
Which may be a bit scary at first, but it means that the quality of your coffee is limited only by your personal skill and not an inflexible machine.
Time and contact are two of the biggest factors in coffee brewing. If water passes through your grounds too quickly you’ll end up with a watery coffee and a bitter cup if too slowly.
Contact refers to grind size, thus the amount of surface area, for the water to interact with.
For example, the finer the grind, the more surface area and the quicker the extraction.
With the V60 you will need a medium-fine to fine grind and a steady pour to score a solid cup of coffee.
It will take a good bit of practice to find the right balance, but it will lead to an unparalleled level of caffeinated perfection.
Spiraling Grooves Make for Improved Airflow
The V60 also has a set of raised grooves spiralling down the inside of the cone. The purpose of these grooves is to hold the bed of grounds away from the walls of the V60.
This allows for airflow along the sides, which aides in even water flow along the edges, leading to a more balanced extraction.
An important factor in pour over brewing is an even extraction.
You want the water to flow through all of your grounds at once and at a constant pace. If water sits too long around the edges you can get a little over-extracted bitterness going on.
Pick of the Litter
Unlike many other manual brewers, the V-60 comes in a wide range of sizes and materials.
With the V60, you can choose from three sizes:
- single cup,
- two cups,
- three to four cup.
Additionally, there are four different types of materials that the V60 is made from:
The plastic version comes in red, white, and clear, and is the least expensive out of all the options. It does not retain heat as well as the other versions, but it is quite sturdy.
The glass V60 has a clear cone but an opaque, plastic base plate that you can get in either black or red. You will want to be careful with this model, as the glass is quite fragile.
A ceramic V60 is a great choice for someone looking for greater heat retention without burning their hands.
They come in both white and red, and if you preheat these with a little hot water, they will keep your brew from losing any precious heat.
Finally, the metal version has a design similar to the glass model with the curly hook. You can choose from either stainless steel or copper.
Both options will do just as well at heat retention as the ceramic model, but these will be much more durable.
Brings Out All the Best
Since I’ve talked a lot about flavor, I’m sure you’d like to know what flavors you can expect from this brewer.
Though it ultimately depends on your particular brew method, the V-60 is known for producing a brighter and more complex cup of coffee.
Done right, notes of sweetness and fruitiness will shine through, with only a hint of acidity.
You shouldn’t expect a very full-bodied cup with this brewer but instead something clean with each individual note easily recognizable.
If you’re used to French press, then a V60 brew will look overly transparent, but this allows the more exotic flavors to come out without tasting weighty.
Watch this video for a quick how-to tutorial on brewing with the Hario:
Alternatives to the V60 Dripper
Despite how much I love this pour over brewer, it is not for everyone. It can make one of the best coffees you’ll ever taste but not without some serious trial and error.
Three other coffee brewers you may want to consider are the Kalita Wave, the Chemex, or the Clever Dripper.
The Kalita Wave
The Wave is Kalita’s solution to the fickleness of the V-60. Instead of a large opening, the Kalita Wave has a flat bottom with three small holes, which slow down the flow of water.
These small holes, in combination with the unique rippled paper filters, make the Wave a much more forgiving dripper than the V60. You’ll still need a practiced pouring hand, but you won’t need to be as precise. Though convenient, the Wave isn’t as flexible as the V60. If you like the sound of the Wave, read our review here.
Chemex vs V60
This is the most common comparison when it comes to pour over drippers: the Chemex vs V60.
Looking like the lovechild of some third-wave cafe and Instagram, the Chemex is a modern update on straight-forward coffee. It is similar to the V60 in that it uses a large opening, but its overall design and process are quite different. The Chemex is a combination drip brewer and carafe. Instead of paper filters, it uses thicker cloth filters that give its brews a rounder and fuller body.
The Chemex isn’t quite as unforgiving as the V60, but it is limited when it comes to flavor complexity. They both do the same thing (more or less), but the Chemex is larger, harder to travel with but very very good looking. Read our review on the Chemex Here.
The Clever Dripper
If you’re looking for something a little easier to use, but still want a dripper, then the Clever Dripper may be for you.
The aptly named Clever is half immersion brewer and half pour over dripper, but all user-friendly.
To use the Clever, simply fill it with grounds and hot water, let it steep and, when you’re ready, set it on your cup to begin the drip.
A “clever” locking mechanism holds the fluid inside the cone until you place it on a cup.
The Clever is effortless and will make a tasty cup of coffee, but it won’t bring out the more subtle flavors like the V60 will. We covered the clever dripper in detail here.
With a little practice, patience, and the right tools, you can make coffee better than any machine could with this brewer.
The Hario V60 dripper is the ultimate tool in delicious craft coffee.
It is unforgiving, but it puts all the control into your hands, allowing you to change and perfect each step of the process.
Additionally, you have the freedom to customize with its wide range of product options.