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The Kalita Wave, great name isn’t it? If you follow this blog you’ll know that we named it our favorite pour-over brewer not so long ago. Read that comparison article here.
We felt here at Coffee Brewing Methods that there is more to say about the nifty little coffee maker and so this is our full review of the Kalita Wave.
After much testing, Kalita Wave remains our top pick. The flat bottom and the controlled flow rate ensure consistent brew and make Kalita Wave a popular choice. With its wavy contours, the Kalita Wave wins over coffee enthusiasts. But the aesthetics is not the most important feature of the Kalita Wave.
When I say brief history, I mean brief. The Kalita Wave is one of the newest pour-over coffee makers of the popular industry standard brewers today. It was first sold in the United States in 2011. Since then it has been taking the coffee world by storm.
Kalita Wave Review
Its design is different to the other pour-over brewers in that it has three small holes at the bottom instead of one big one. These regulate the extraction and make it easier to brew a decent cup of coffee.
The paper filters are beautiful, wavy and shaped like cupcakes. They have a very different look to the standard pour-over filter. They have been designed like this for a very specific purpose. More about that later.
The Kalita Wave comes in three materials - stainless steel, ceramic and glass. However, due to the heat retention from the wave filters, the material of the Kalita doesn’t make any noticeable difference to the heat of the coffee. This means that it is not much of an advantage to buy the more expensive ceramic or glass versions. It is just the same to buy the cheaper and less breakable steel version.
Unlike the V60, there is no plastic version of the Kalita Wave. I personally appreciate this fact, as I feel the plastic material is a little cheap and is not so stylish in the kitchen. This might be a disadvantage though if you’re on a strict budget.
Scott Rao recommends plastic drippers, because they do not transfer heat. So this might look like a disadvantage, but because the Kalita filters retain heat, the dripper material is less important from this perspective.
This pour-over brewer is available in two sizes. The 155 is a one cup brewer and the 185 is suitable for brewing two to three cups of coffee.
The Wave is a favorite pour over device for home baristas because of its unique flavor profile. The flat-bottom cone and the specially designed filters ensure an even extraction. We can think of Kalita Wave as a unique brewing method.
Kalita Wave is a fantastic deal, with a price tag that is very attractive, but its popularity is due to its capacity to brew a delicious cup of coffee.
The Wave is made in three material variants, steel, glass and porcelain, giving a choice to almost everyone.
Advantages of the Kalita Wave
Now we come to the advantages of this manual drip brewer. As I mentioned, the Kalita Wave differentiates itself from its competitors with the three holes in the bottom of the cone compared the one big hole found in other drippers.
The device was designed in this way to help achieve regular and even extraction easily. The smaller holes slow down and spread out the water flow. This means there is much less need for the pour to be even - the Wave sorts this out for you. However, not everybody in the coffee industry agrees with me. I will talk more about that in a second.
Filters - extraction and heat retention
Again, as I outlined above, the filters for this brewer are a real stroke of design genius. This design assists further with an even extraction by keeping the coffee and water to the center of the device, as well as keeping the coffee hot.
The Kalita Wave filters, look like an oversized cupcake cup. The large ridges hold your coffee bed away from the walls of the Wave, allowing air to pass between. The improved airflow speeds up the water flow, improving the flow rate and the extraction. The air also serve as insulation from the dripper, improving the heat retention.
The Kalita Wave is not very expensive. It retails at roughly what the equivalent material V60s retail for. You can get your hands on a Kalita for roughly $20 new on Amazon. This is not a tall order for a delicious cup of coffee!
Like the V60, the Kalita Wave is relatively portable. Obviously the metal version is the safest to transport as there is no fear of it breaking. The other materials will require a little care.
Filters - Fragile and Specific
There are also disadvantages that come with the Kalita Wave filter.
The unique filters are extremely fragile. They have to be stored very carefully then used very carefully. Many a barista has wasted quite a lot of money on ‘dud’ Wave filters. Handling with care is especially important when rinsing the filters before extraction.
Also, the Kalita is only compatible with the specific wave filters. The standard, grocery store, pour-over filters won’t work in the Kalita. The wave filters are a bit pricier than the standard pour-over filter.
Not Good for Multiple Cups of Coffee
The Kalita, like the V60, is ideal for single cup brewing. Though the bigger sizes do exist, these will only comfortably brew two cups. If you are looking to make coffee when you are hosting, or for your large family, the Kalita isn’t going to be suitable. If you want to make pour-over coffee in larger quantities, go for a Chemex. You can read our Chemex review here.
Care when Brewing
The fragile filters mean that the Kalita Wave is not suitable for someone who is always in a rush and on the go. If you rush the brewing process, you will likely ruin the filter and have to start again.
Kalita Extraction - Dialling in the Grind
As I mentioned, I came across one or two articles on the internet that didn’t expressly agree that the Kalita is user-friendly. This article mentions that you will need to experiment with the grind before you get your Kalita coffee just right.
I think that is going to be the case with any pour-over brewer, however. The whole idea behind the design of the Wave is its ease of use. Having brewed coffee with the V60 and the Kalita Wave, I can attest that the Wave yields a more consistent brew, more easily.
As we said in our comparison article of the most popular brewers, The Kalita Wave is the best all rounder drip-brewer. It is inexpensive, durable, portable and produces a consistent, delicious cup of coffee with little to no technique.
It is not for everyone though. Some of its features are a little bit quirky and it is probably not suited to the practical, caffeine-fix, work all hours coffee drinker. So have a think. What kind of coffee drinker are you? Does the Kalita Wave suit your personality and tastes?