The Kalita Wave is a very popular and recognisable coffee brewer in the speciality coffee sector. It might not be a household name but it used a lot by seasoned pour-over users and speciality coffee shops. Since I bought the Kalita Wave, it has been a regular fixture in my home brewing. So I thought I would review the Kalita Wave as it needs more exposure especially to the newcomers into speciality coffee.
The Kalita Wave is fantastic brewer that offers consistency in the way it brews and the taste is produces. This brewer does many things to help with extraction and is very easy to use. However, do not expect too much variety in your brews. If you are someone who wants a pour-over to help you make good tasting coffee without being scrutinised on your technique then the Kalita Wave has you covered. That is why many label the Kalita Wave as the the ‘forgiven brewer’.
So let me go through how the Kalita Wave works and my thoughts on it.
What is the Kalita Wave?
The Kalita Wave works similar to all other pour-over brewers except that it has a flat bottom instead of a cone shape. The bottom of the brewer has 3 small extraction holes. The Kalita is used with a wavy, ridged, flat-bed paper that is placed inside the dripper. The wavy papers do not stick to the side of the Kalita which allows minimal by-pass. These papers look like large muffin cases and they are a little delicate so handle them with care.
There are different types of the Kalita Waves too, including the glass version and even copper. But the most recognisable one is the stainless steel which will be the one I will be focusing on. There are two sizes which are referred to as either the 155 or 185. The 155 is the small pour-over for 1-2 cups and the 185 is capable for 2-4 cups. I don’t know why they just don’t refer to small and large as its quite confusing when first buying. My wife was buying this as a gift for me and accidentally bought the 155. However, the 155 is really small, only brewing up to 300ml.
You will also find beautiful glass servers with the Kalita. The shape really stands out and looks small but the larger server can hold more then 500ml. There are jug servers but they still hold either 400ml and 500ml. From a visual point of view, the Kalita looks a lot better in person then in photos. I really like the stainless steel look and feel. It might be no Origami Dripper but it is still visually pleasing to brew with.
Just by design the Kalita Wave will provide you with consistent results. The flat-bed with 3 small extraction holes allows for an even but restricted flow rate. This actually allows coffee to steep for a bit in the Kalita and therefore the brews will be more consistent in extraction. There are some complaints that the holes are too small which leads to clogging. People have tried to make the extraction holes bigger or try some sort of hack to get faster flow rate. I have not experienced any clogging. I mainly use a medium-fine grind size, but I have also gone finer but not come across any clogging problems. Therefore, it is not an issue on my side but may be something to be aware of.
Another reason coffee is well extracted is the heat retention. The Kalita Wave does a lot of things right to ensure heat remains consistent over the whole brew. As previously mentioned, the wavy ridged papers allows it to stay away from the walls of the dripper so heat is not compromised. The stainless steel material allows the dripper to stay hot for longer when pre-rinsed. Lastly, the Kalita is quite enclosed on the top so that allows less heat to escape and further keeping heat retained within. It goes without saying if you want to enjoy the same consistent taste over and over again then the Kalita Wave will give you that.
As the Kalita allows that little bit of steeping, this allows the coffee to taste richer. You will also find a lot more body to the coffee too. The flavours are not completely lost either but are more deeper and come through the background. You can still produce floral and fruity coffees but it is more subdued. This may seem like a negative thing for some but actually the brews are really pleasant.
With the Kalita the flavour notes might not hit you straight away. As I mentioned the flavours are more in the background but also lingers on after every sip. However, it stil produces the filter style coffee that I want to drink a lot of the time. I enjoy juicy and sweeter cups with lighter body but the Kalita gives me another option and it’s fulfilling.
The Forgiving Brewer
One description that follows the Kalita is how forgiving it is. As the dripper allows coffee to steep and flow rate is pretty consistent because of the 3 holes. It goes without saying that your pouring mistakes or lack of, won’t really be impactful when using the Kalita. So you need much less precision with your technique then you would say the V60. Therefore, if you apply a faster pour or a slow one the end result will be close enough be the same. This can be a bad thing but we will focus on the good for now.
Ideally having a brewer covering for you is great especially for beginners. It is really the perfect entry-level brewer. However, surprisingly, the first pour-over people tend to buy is the V60 due to its popularity. The Kalita Wave is mainly used by seasoned coffee lovers who like to own more then one manual brewer. But the forgiving nature is also good for experienced pour-over users too. Sometimes you want to taste coffee without the hassle of constant changes and tweaks.
Not For Learners
The Kalita Wave does make tasty coffee. But if you are trying to learn about speciality coffee and brewing techniques then this dripper might not give you that experience. Unfortunately, some of the positives of the Kalita can also be it’s downfall in some areas. Although it is hard to make a bad coffee with the Kalita, it is also hard to brew varied tasting coffee. Especially when you want to brew coffee that is more juicy, sweeter and with more clarity which is what you would get with brewers like the V60 or Origami Dripper. With those brewers your technique matters but you also have lot of control over the brew. This could mean varied brews and more options to experience different tasting coffee. But with the Kalita Wave, you will not see much difference to the end result.
This is why the Kalita is often referred to as the entry-level brewer. Because if you are looking to improve your technique or experiment with coffee then the Kalita might be restrict you in doing that. Now I bought the Kalita Wave after using the V60 and still enjoyed using it the first time. In fact, one of the best tasting coffee I ever had was on the Kalita. But over time, I started to understand the restrictive nature of the Kalita Wave. I tend to use the same method every time. Again that is fine if you want consistently good coffee but I am also not experimenting with the Kalita compared to other brewers.
Pro & Cons
|Easy to use|
Consistent extraction & heat retention
Rich tasting coffee with body
Great for beginners
|Sizes are confusingly numbered|
Not for learners
Don’t expect variety in brews
But Filter Coffee At Its Best
Now I do agree that the Kalita Wave might not be for the learners especially in the long term. But as someone who loves to experiment with coffee, the Kalita Wave is the cushion when I need some consistency in my coffee life. Sometimes I wake up and my eyes are still half open so when I use the Kalita, I know I will get a good filter-style coffee. Furthermore, when you are not getting the right results for certain coffee, the Kalita is there to rescue with consistent brews.
At times, the Kalita Wave feels like the manual version of an automated filter coffee machine. It produces the same style of coffee every time. Even though I have mentioned that your technique is not required much, it is still enjoyable using the Kalita Wave for that consistently great tasting coffee.
If you are looking to buy the Kalita Wave then it’s good to know the general prices of each of the items. As mentioned, the Kalita Wave comes in two sizes, 155 and 185. Therefore, I have created a table with ball park prices for each items in its relevant size. Some things are going to cost a bit more or less depending where you get it from.
The items may feel slightly more expensive compared to the V60. But for me the dripper and filter papers feel more premium. I would also advise to buy the pack of 100 papers as it is a lot cheaper then the box of 50 which is to burn through. Lastly, note the glass server for 155 is around 300ml whilst the 185 is 500ml.
|Stainless Steel Dripper||Filter Papers (white)||Glass Server||Glass Dripper (Black)||Tsubame Copper||Sandstone Dripper|
|155||£28||£5- £6.50 (Box 50)|
£8 – £10 (Box 100)
|£14||£14 – 20||£75||£26|
|185||£26||£5- £6.50 (Box 50)|
£8 – £10 (Box 100)
|£20||£18 – 24||£80||£30|
As much as I say the Kalita Wave is entry level, it definitely is not the first choice when people get into pour-over. Maybe due to the popularity many tend to gravitate to the V60 first. Personally, I would advise someone to buy the Kalita if they are getting into speciality coffee and want consistent results over learning. I have actually written a post on why certain people should buy the Kalita over V60. Check out that post here.
All in all, the Kalita Wave is a great coffee pour-over for home brewing. It does a lot of things right even if that leads to less variety. But as I have said, that consistent taste is sometimes what you need. Yes, it is good for beginners because of its forgiving nature. But it is also great for people who want to enjoy speciality coffee with an easy to use manual brewer. How can you complain over that?
So what do you think about the Kalita Wave? Is it your favourite brewer or do you prefer another pour-over instead? Let me know what your views are on the Kalita Wave in the comments.