The manual brewing methods have been around for a while now and while most of us might be familiar with a French Press, an Aeropress, Hario V60, or a Chemex, the list of the manual coffee makers to put on your wishlist doesn’t stop there.
Today, we will look into the Kalita Wave brewer, explain how it works, and most importantly, explore the different aspects in which it will influence the coffee-making experience and the resulting taste of your brew.
Are you ready to familiarize yourself with another coffee-brewing toy?
The Appeal Of Manual Brewing
Why do people look for ways to make their coffee manually when you can get your caffeine fix with an espresso machine in 30 seconds? As you might have guessed, the convenience is not the main appeal of manual brewing methods.
Coffee drinkers that switch to manual brewing are not interested in making their coffee as fast as possible, they are keen to gain more control over the brewing process. While the pour-over coffee might sound as simple as pouring some water over your coffee grounds, it is a delicate process that requires more effort and a certain level of expertise.
The increased attention to detail rewards you with more delicate flavors and interesting taste profile emerging in your cup. And with the increasing popularity of specialty coffee and more attention put into details of coffee production, such as expert sourcing and small-batch roasting of the beans, looking for a brewing process that uncovers the tasting notes of these interesting single-origin coffees is a natural part of the whole movement.
What Is Kalita Wave?
The Wave is a pour-over brewing system by a Japanese brand, Kalita, who has been making coffee equipment since the 1950s. The unique feature of this brewer is that the contact surface between the filter and the inner dripper is separated by 20 waves on the side. The flat bottom with three holes contributes to the fact that the coffee doesn’t accumulate but quickly drips into your cup, creating a consistently delicious coffee.
How To Brew With Kalita
- Bring the water to your desired coffee brewing temperature (around 94°C/200°F)
- Insert your Kalita filter into your the Wave dripper
- Carefully rinse the filter with hot water to remove the papery taste and heat the brewer and your cup (be careful not to damage the delicate filter, or alternatively, skip this step)
- Put in 15g of your coffee at a medium-coarse grind
- Pour 50g of water over your coffee grounds within the first 15 seconds and let the coffee bloom for an additional 15 seconds to release oils and flavor
- Pour another 130g of water within another 15 seconds over the coffee in a circular motion in the center and wait for another 15 seconds
- Pour the final 100g of water over the grounds
- Wait and let the coffee fully drip into your cup, discard the used filter and rinse the Kalita
Is Kalita Wave For You?
If you’re considering adding Kalita brewer into your neverending list of coffee accessories, read our full review and see some of the key aspects of this unique manual brewer.
Ease Of Use: Pour Over Suitable For A Beginner
As different pour-over methods go, the Kalita Wave is among the easiest ones to use. What differentiates it from some of the other pour-overs are the flat-bottom design and three small holes for easier and more predictable extraction.
The design of the bottom creates improved flow control in coffee, which means that the resulting cup is consistent and small details during the brewing process don’t impact the taste of your cup that much. This makes the Kalita coffee brewer fuss-free and suitable even for those whose skills haven’t reached the expert level, making it one of the most accessible pour-overs.
Filters: Cupcake-Shaped Problem
As with any pour-over, you need to purchase the correct filters that are specially made for that brewer. While the conical V60 filters allow delicate and acidic notes from the coffee to come through and the thick Chemex filters produce even cleaner cup, this is where the differences between different pour-over methods show the most.
The filters for Kalita have a unique design with big wavy, vertical ridges. Besides looking like a cupcake, these ridges perform a functional role in the brewing process. They hold the bed of coffee grounds away from the Wave, which allows air to pass in-between which insulates the coffee and prevents the cone from sucking the heat out of the liquid. They also hasten the flow of water along the sides and contribute to the resulting even and consistent extraction.
The filters, however, are also where the problems with Kalita Wave stem from. The issue is that they are very flimsy and this and you can’t just throw them in your cupboard. Because if they are not stored properly, then they are easily damaged. Indeed, sometimes you can break them during the first step of the brewing process when you pour hot water over it to get rid of the papery taste.
Size And Material: Choices To Suit Your Preferences
In terms of size, there are two kinds of drippers to choose from. The Kalita 155 is a single-cup dripper and the Kalita Wave 185 is suitable for brewing 2-3 cups of coffee.
Design: Classic Look For Your Kitchen
The wavy design can be quite aesthetically pleasing and seems more traditional and less modern than the fellow Japanese brand, Hario.
The cone comfortably sits on top of any cup or coffee server and the horizontal lines add to the ripply design of the coffee maker. Kalita also produces kettles in the matching design which would make the two attractive aesthetic pieces on your kitchen top.
Taste: Less Control, More Consistency
For many serious coffee drinkers, the technical intricacies and features don’t matter as much as the most important aspect of a coffee maker, and that is how the coffee tastes.
Because of its unique brewing design, the coffee made with Kalita has a more robust taste than other pour-over coffees. But it still has more delicate tasting notes than coffee made with the French Press. And to some extend, you can bring out more acidity and bright flavors by using a coarser grind.
Portability: Filters Posing A Challenge
Similarly to a V60, the cone is portable and compact enough to travel around with and if you go for the stainless steel version, it is basically unbreakable. This makes it easy to make a cup of tasty brew while camping or traveling. And the Kalita Wave brewing system ensures that your cup of coffee will taste consistently good even when you can’t pay attention to the last detail of the brewing in an improvised set-up.
While either the Kalita Wave 185 or 155 are both easy to transport and throw into your coffee travel kit, this is not the case for the filters. As we mentioned, they are very flimsy and they need to be stored properly not to break, which is impossible when you are on the go.
Price: Value For Money?
When it comes to the price, the Wave is comparable to the other pour-over coffee makers. It is cheaper than buying a Chemex but slightly more expensive than a V60. Price probably wouldn’t be the deciding factor when choosing this kind of brewer.
The choice will depend mostly on whether you prefer the consistency, ease of use, and a more robust cup of coffee you get with the Wave or more control over your brew, which you would get with other pour-over methods.
The Kalita Wave 155 Vs 185
There are two types of Kalita drippers, the Kalita Wave 155 and Kalita Wave 185. They both share the same design, brewing mechanism, and a flat bottom with three small holes.
The only difference is the size and how much coffee can they brew. The smaller Wave 155 brews around 1 big cup of coffee with 18g of coffee grounds and 300ml of water. The bigger brewer, Wave 185, makes around 2-3 cups of coffee and handles 30g / 500ml coffee-to-water-ratio.
So which coffee maker you choose depends on how much coffee you expect to brew. If all you need is to fill your travel mug in the morning, go for the smaller 155 version and if you know you will be making multiple coffees at a time, the bigger 185 would suit you more.
Kalita Wave Vs Hario V60: Similar But Different
To an untrained eye, these two pour-over coffee makers might look very similar. But even though there are resemblances, their brewing systems and features differ significantly. Not to say that one is better than the other, but your personal preferences will determine which one is right for you.
If you’re looking for a manual pour-over maker that gives you a little bit of control over your cup but produces robust and consistent brew, you won’t go wrong with getting a Kalita dripper.
The competitor, the Hario V60 will give you even more control over the resulting cup. And since the brewing is more delicate, not being attentive to the details can completely change how your coffee tastes.
Also, if you prefer a less robust and more acidic brew, the V60 will be up your alley. That being said, V60 is also more suitable for those who are more advanced, or at least more willing to learn since it is quite unforgiving. While the Kalita is suitable even for a beginner.
Is Kalita For You?
We are big fans of manual and pour-over coffee makers because they give you more control over your cup and are the best for bringing out the interesting delicate flavor notes of your single origin. We believe that there is no better way of experiencing the fruitiness of Kenyan beans or the nutty and chocolatey flavors of Brazilian coffee than with a pour-over method.
There are many appeals to Kalita Wave. It is one of the most approachable pour-overs, makes a consistently good coffee, even at an amateur level. With the advanced brewing system and the characteristic wavy design, different materials and sizes to choose from, it is a great option.
The main negatives are less control over the resulting brew and the flimsy filters that need to be properly stored.
In general, if you don’t own a pour-over coffee maker and you are looking for an entry-level one that is not intimidating and produces a tasty cup of coffee, don’t hesitate with getting the Wave.