With a plethora of pour over brewers available on the market, knowing which is right for you can be tricky. Each pour over brewer has its own unique features, styles, and taste differences.
We are going to compare the Kalita Wave versus the Chemex pour over lines to see which is a better fit for you and your coffee preferences.
About the Kalita Wave
Kalita is a coffee brewing company in Japan that began manufacturing its Wave Pour Over brewers in 1958. Being a pour over style, the Kalita Wave comes in several different material types and sizes and two different styles.
The more classic Kalita Wave style is designed to sit right on top of your serving mug and brew directly into it. With a wide rim, these pour over devices will fit on most mugs or you can even brew into one of the Kalita coffee carfares. This style makes 1-2 servings of coffee and is available in ceramic, stainless steel, plastic, or glass.
The other style available for the Kalita Wave looks a lot like a Chemex brewer, with the classic hourglass shape, and has a protective plastic collar for ease of pouring.
Both styles use a cupcake-shaped paper filter that has 20 waves that help the water flow evenly through the grinds and drain out the flat bottom of the brewer from three holes.
This brewer creates strong and robust brews that are evenly extracted and smooth. Consumers love the consistency of the brew and the continence of the brewing device.
About the Chemex Brewer
The Chemex was first invented in 1941 and was a game changer in the world of coffee. It was a new way of brewing that began a whole trend in specialty coffees that is still going strong today.
Made with thick glass, the Chemex has a beautiful hourglass-shaped body with an oak collar kept in place with a rawhide leather cord. Chemex uses thick paper filters that prop up in the top half of the brewer and keep fine grinds and oils out of your finished brew.
Chemex comes in a few different styles: Handblown Chemex, Classic Chemex, and Glass Handle Chemex. Each style has its own unique features and ranges in size capacity, but each one brews a deliciously smooth and flavorful brew.
Consumers love how much control they have over the brewing process in a Chemex. Generally, Chemex brewers are used by specialty coffee enthusiasts who enjoy tasting the unique flavor profile of single-origin coffees.
Comparing the Kalita Wave vs Chemex
Both Chemex and Kalita are great pour over styles, but they are definitely on opposite ends of the pour over game. Chemex is considered the most controllable pour over, allowing maximum precision throughout the brewing process.
The Kalita is a very forgiving pour over that is great for beginners. It has a consistent taste, is easy to learn, and is travel friendly.
Let’s break down important elements of each brewer and compare.
Ease of Use
When it comes to using these two pour over brewers, they both need a bit of setup. A Chemex works best when paired with a coffee scale, a gooseneck kettle, and a grinder that grinds coarse.
A Kalita also benefits from all of these, but it is not necessary to have all these elements while still getting a good brew. A Kalita Wave sits right on top of your mug making it very easy to use and accessible to all types of settings.
A Chemex needs more space and is brewed with the most consistency when you use a coffee scale for monitoring your flow rate and getting the most accurate grinds to water ratio.
Both brewers are dishwasher safe, but a Chemex can be harder to hand clean as most people are not able to reach the bottom portion of the carafe.
Control of Brew
Pour over devices are the most hands-on approach to brewing as they are completely manual and you have total control of each element.
The main difference in design is the Kalita has three holes at the bottom of the brewer where the coffee drains out, meaning the rate of flow will always be consistently the same.
The Chemex, however, is dependent on the rate of flow at which you pour the water into the filter, the grind size, and the type of filter used. If even one of these elements changes slightly, it will impact how your brew tastes.
A Chemex brewer, no matter the style, allows for maximum control of the entire brewing process.
The Kalita Wave gives a consistent brew that needs less precision and attention throughout the process.
Difference in Filters
Both the Chemex and Kalita have unique filters that specifically complement the brewer’s designs and enhance the brewing experience.
Chemex filters are significantly thicker than the average coffee filter and come in circle or square shapes and white or brown paper. You can also get them pre-folded or un-folded, making every option available for the diverse needs of Chemex lovers.
Because of the thickness of the Chemex filters, your brew will be so smooth with no fine grinds and many of the oils trapped in the filter. This enhances the flavor profile of the coffee and creates a delicious brew that is best enjoyed black.
There are several options for reusable Chemex filters, including dishwasher-safe metal filters and even hemp filters.
In comparison, Kalita filters are some of the thinnest filters available. With a cupcake shape, these paper filters have 20 waves that work in contrast to the waves on the brewer (thus the brewer’s name), creating a smooth cup of coffee.
Because of the thinness of the filters, a cup of coffee brewed from a Kalita Wave will be much mouthier in feel and will taste more like a French Press brew.
Brew Taste Comparison
The Kalita Wave has a consistent brew taste that users of this brewer like. Because it drains at the same flow rate, the Kalita has a strong-bodied taste that gives a classic robust coffee flavor.
You will not be able to pick out as many unique flavor profiles from different roasts, but this makes it a more forgiving brewer for roasts you are not a big fan of, or coffee that isn’t as fresh.
On the other hand, a Chemex brewer maximizes the individual taste profiles of each roast. Because you have total control of each element of brewing, consistency in your brewing skills will lead to consistency in brew taste. But even that will vary from roast to roast.
Chemex brewers are a great option for the coffee enthusiast who enjoys sipping black coffee as a way to experience unique coffee types and roasts. A Kalita is better for the coffee drinker who enjoys a simple process and consistent results.
Price and Warranty
Neither pour over device has a full warranty, but the Kalita Wave does offer a partial warranty where they will replace your brewer if defective or broken within the first year.
Chemex brewers allow for a thirty-day return policy if unsatisfied with the product, but do not offer any type of warranty for broken or damaged brewers after three days from purchase.
Chemex brewers are made with strong, non-porous Borosilicate glass, but are still breakable if dropped or hit against a hard surface.
You can get the Kalita Wave in multiple material types, including plastic, ceramic, and metal. They are much harder to break or damage and tend to last longer.
Which Works for You?
Both the Chemex and the Kalita Wave are excellent pour over devices that make a great cup of coffee.
A Chemex brewer is the best option for a coffee enthusiast who enjoys paying attention to details and is looking for the most flavor within their coffee.
Chemex is best when paired with a good, solid burr grinder and a gooseneck kettle. These items help you get the best and freshest brew.
A Kalita Wave is an excellent choice for the coffee enthusiast who likes consistency in their brew but doesn’t mind putting a little work in.
The Kalita Wave is a great option for traveling as it is small and compact and is forgiving with less-than-fresh grounds. Although a Kalita Wave does benefit from using a gooseneck kettle, any kettle works well for this brewing device.