In the past decade, pour-over coffee has become a world-wide trend, a mainstay in the “third-wave” coffee movement, and has helped to oust the mass-market “second-wave” java which gained popularity in the 1990s. Fortunately, you don’t need to go to Blue Bottle or the like to get one of these high-quality brews.
Companies such as Melitta and Hario have been designing home pour-over systems for decades, and depending on how much time you’re willing to put into perfecting your brew, you can make a cup of coffee that’s comparable to anything available in a specialty cafe. One of the finest home pour-over drippers available is the Kalita Wave Dripper, which we review here.
requires a longer learning curve to bring out a tasting brew
the price is cheaper and it's made in Japan
our rating, based on our sound and impartial assessment
If you haven’t had a pour-over yet, then you’re missing out on some of the most meticulously crafted cups of coffee available anywhere.
But you also might need some practice before your technique is perfected.
If you do decide that you’re ready to try your hand at pour-over, you’ll want to use the highest quality equipment available. Luckily for you, Japan-based Kalita has created a sturdy, attractive, and relatively easy-to-use pour-over with the Wave.
Even at first glance, it’s not hard to tell that the Kalita Wave is a sturdy, ergonomic, and aesthetically pleasing piece of equipment. Let’s take a closer look at some of its key features.
The Kalita Wave Dripper is available in three different materials: glass, ceramic, and stainless steel. Of these, the stainless steel version is the most popular, as well as the sturdiest.
With that said, all three are designed with horizontal “waves” (hence the name) down the insides. At the bottom of the series of waves is the baseplate, which balances the device atop your mug as the coffee drips through. Attached to the side is the handle, which keeps your hand away from its hot surfaces.
The key design difference between the Wave and other pour over coffee makers is that the bottom of Kalita’s funnel has three holes through which your coffee flows. These three holes, when employed with the right grind of coffee, are meant to control the flow so that plenty of flavor seeps in, but your brew doesn’t over-extract, turning your coffee bitter.
Another key aspect to the design is that the bottom of the funnel is flat, rather than conical. This is meant to create a uniform bed of coffee grounds, which distributes the flavor more evenly than a cone shape.
Kalita makes several different sizes of the same product, depending on how many cups of coffee you plan on brewing at a time. The Wave 155 is designed to make between 1 and 2 cups of drip coffee, and the Wave 185 designed to make between 3 and 4.
Inspired by the original European pour-over developed by Melitta in the early 20th century, the Kalita Wave Dripper is built to brew delicious, artisanal cups of coffee. Like all pour-overs, the technology is simple, manually operated, and as a result, costs less than many automatic coffee makers. The Kalita Wave is constructed from either stainless steel, ceramic, or glass, all of which give it a handsome and sleek aesthetic.
This product has developed something of a cult following among both professional baristas and home coffee enthusiasts. There are other pour-over devices that will measure the water for you, such as the OXO Good Grips, but similar to higher quality models from top firms Melitta or Hario, the Wave will require a bit more attention to yield the highest quality results.
As with any pour-over device, the ease of cleaning can’t be overstated. Once you’re finished, you merely discard or compost your used filter, give the device a rinse, and you’re ready to prepare your next cup.
Because of its particularly small holes, the brew speed is a bit on the slow side. On average, it will take you between 3 and 4 minutes to brew a single cup, which may feel like a long time, depending on what you’re used to.
Because of the flat-bottom design, the Wave requires specially shaped filters, also available from either Kalita or Amazon.com.
One of the reasons Kalita is so particular about their filters is because they’ve been specially designed to keep the slurry away from the walls of the device, which serves two purposes. The first is to keep the water balanced throughout the brew, and the second is to allow air to insulate the coffee, keeping it warm.
If you’re the type of person who’s considering a pour-over coffee dripper, then chances are you’re someone who cares greatly about the taste of their coffee. In this case, you’ll want to perfect your pour-over with certain necessary accessories. These will most likely include a gooseneck kettle to better control your pour, a high-quality burr grinder, and a coffee scale.
Although the Kalita Wave is a top quality item, of course it isn’t the only one available on the market. Below we’ll compare it to three other popular pour-overs, listing the advantages and disadvantages between the different models.
The Hario Company is the predominant maker of pour-overs worldwide these days, and the V60 is their more popular pour-over dripper. These are used is artisan coffee shops by professional baristas as well as in the homes of coffee enthusiasts.
The main difference between the Hario V60 and the Kalita Wave is in the design, in this case, the Hario has an open bottom, rather than the three holes of the Kalita. Because of this, the user has to take more responsibility for the speed of the drip. In exchange, you have more control—which, depending on your needs, may be a plus or minus for you.
The Hario V60 is also slightly less expensive than the Kalita Wave.
In a similar class to the Kalita Wave is the Bee House Ceramic Coffee Dripper. These two are often compared, as the Bee House’s design also employs drip-holes at the bottom rather than an open design, in this case, two, as compared to the Wave’s three.
The two drippers also share a flat bottom design. A similar idea has been employed as well to handle insulation, with the Bee House using grooved insides as opposed to Kalita’s filter waves.
The Bee House does have more flexibility with the different filters it will accept, and compatible filters can be purchased at your local supermarket.
Melitta is both the originator of the pour-over coffee, and the coffee filter itself, and is still a major name on the pour-over marketplace. The design of the Melitta Ceramic Coffee Dripper is meant to give its users predictable, repeatable results without having to pay too much attention to the individual cup. Conical, rather than flat-bottomed, the Melitta has a single hole at the bottom for the brewed coffee to flow through.
One of the common complaints about the Melitta is over-extraction. Because of the slowness of the single hole drip, flavors and chemicals will emerge from the coffee that are not necessarily wanted. In order to maintain an ideal drip speed, the user will have to perfect their grind so that the coffee doesn’t brew for too long.
If you’re looking for the perfect pour-over cup of coffee, it would be hard to do much better than either of the Kalita Wave models. With it’s expertly engineered filters maintaining water temperature and it’s three-hole, flat-bottom design protecting you from over-extraction, with a bit of practice, you and the Wave can brew a strong, delicious pour-over coffee.
Although slightly pricier than comparable models, but attractive, sturdy, and easy to transport, the Kalita Wave is an ideal pour-over for the discerning coffee drinker.