If you’ve already heard about the Kalita Wave dripper, you know it’s a high quality product. The market for coffee makers is huge at the moment, though, so we’ve prepared an exhaustive guide on the Kalita Wave for you to pore over before purchasing it.
This review will focus mostly on the Stainless Steel version, touching only briefly on the other versions.
Let’s get started with our review of its design, all its parts and features, and why we love it so much.
The History of the Kalita Wave
Kalita is a Japanese company established all the way back in 1959. It has offices all over Japan, though it’s mainly based in Yokohama. Over the years it has manufactured products for Swiss, American, Italian and French brands.
It is both a manufacturing company and an importer of coffee machines and other coffee related equipment. You know that its taste and reputation are impeccable when they’re willing to bring the best from abroad to their country and produce the best for everyone too.
They have many other products too, and we encourage you to have a look at them because some of them complement the Kalita Wave. They make coffee mills, commercial coffee machines, espresso machines, drip pots (which go very well with the Kalita Wave stainless steel), decanters, mugs, bags, bottles, milk frothers (little blenders) and other goodies for coffee lovers.
The long-established Kalita seems to have what everyone wants: quality, affordable products that have been tried and tested worldwide for decades.
Depending on which Kalita Wave you’re thinking about buying, you’ll be dealing with Kalita Waves made of different materials and coming in different sizes. First, we’re going to be looking at the general features of this product that apply to every version, with special attention paid to the Kalita Wave Stainless Steel version. Then, we’ll be narrowing things down to sizes and materials for a more in-depth view.
Let’s start with the most prominent feature: its design.
The Kalita Wave’s Design
There’s a lot to admire in the Kalita Wave’s design. In trying to describe this product we’ve come up with the following adjectives: utilitarian, sober and light. The Kalita Wave is clearly dedicated to the craft and has a no-frills approach to drip coffee.
The product looks like an upside-down cone. In fact, the only difference is that it has a larger, saucer-like base or brim used to rest the Kalita Wave on your cup of coffee without letting it fall in. You can rest it on your cup as you place the filter in the Kalita Wave and as you slowly pour the water in and let the coffee brew.
If you don’t already own one, have a look at a picture of the Kalita Wave Stainless Steel edition. You’ll notice the cup is slightly “ribbed” or has “waves”. What Kalita is marketing as “waves” on the contours of the stainless steel Kalita Wave are there to keep the filter and, thus, the water and coffee from touching the walls of the Kalita as much as possible.
This keeps your coffee warmer for longer because it touches the cold materials all drippers are unfortunately made of a lot less. It, coincidentally, also provides you with a smoother pouring process overall.
The Flat Bottom and the Filter
Unlike other coffee drippers, the Kalita Wave is not completely conical. It has a flat bottom with three medium-sized holes that let the filtered coffee through into your cup. The flat bottom allows a more even distribution of coffee grounds and water, and, therefore, a more evenly distributed extraction of coffee.
The design makes sense: a conical shape would mean the water passed through the same channel throughout, degrading the grounds in that channel fairly quickly; while a flat bottom ensures the pour can come from different angles and passes through different channels, all of them fresh.
The key here is pouring slowly in a spiraling motion. This, and we can’t stress this enough, is a massive improvement over conical designs. The Kalita Wave drippers will provide you with a smoother flavor overall for this feature alone!
The paper filters
The Kalita Wave paper filters (themselves are deceptively well designed. They look cool, don’t they? They’re wavy like the contours of the dripper too! Once you place the filter in the Kalita Wave you’ll notice the filter only touches the product alternatingly due to both their wavy designs.
There’s a functional reason for this: the fewer contact points between the filter and the product mean hot water doesn’t build up as much when poured at different angles. It also means the water doesn’t touch the dripper as much, keeping its temperature for longer.
Genius! The hot water will slide and drip through without much waiting time or friction. You will, however, have to buy these proprietary filters online since they’re pretty hard to find outside of shops specializing in drip coffee.
Steel vs Glass vs Porcelain Kalita Waves
As you might have already noticed, there are three materials they’re making the Kalita Wave out of. All of these materials are easy to clean, though you will need to be a little more careful when washing the porcelain and glass versions.
The stainless steel dripper is the lightest of the three. The 185 version weighs 160g and the 155 version weighs 127g. It’s lightweight enough for you to take with you to work every morning, as long as you know there’s a grinder and a kettle waiting for you there. It’ll fit in your bag or most purses and you’ll barely notice the extra weight.
For this reason, it is also perfect for travelers, even if it isn’t exactly a streamlined product. The stainless steel version also has the aforementioned “wave” that keeps your coffee warmer for longer and gives you a smoother pouring process, so this might be an obvious choice for some of you buyers out there.
The glass dripper’s weight falls between the stainless steel dripper’s and the porcelain dripper’s. The 185 version weighs 183g and the 155 version weighs 136g. This glass dripper comes with a colorful polypropylene base (brim) that is an FDA approved food contact material. The colors available at the moment are black, clear, cherry pink, mango yellow, army green, peppermint green and dark blue.
The porcelain dripper is the heaviest of the three. The 185 version weighs 365g and the 155 version weighs 280g. You might wonder why they chose porcelain and not ceramic. The reason is that porcelain absorbs even less water than ceramic, thus allowing for a smoother drip, and an easier cleaning and drying process.
Now that we’re done with the Kalita Wave’s features and parts, we can get down to business and tell you the real reason you need a Kalita Wave in your life.
Why We Love the Kalita Wave
The main reason we love the Kalita Wave is quite obvious: the quality of the brew we get out of it. Granted it does take a couple of tries to get the technique down to a T, but once you do, there’s no going back.
The “wavy” (you could also say ridged) quality of the filters and contours of the stainless steel version, the flat bottom and the three filter holes make for the perfect trifecta of brewing.
The “wave” ensures no friction between the water, coffee grounds and the dripper; the flat bottom guarantees a smoother pouring experience and better overall extraction; and the three holes at the bottom of the dripper makes for a quicker drip than that of an average upside-down conical dripper.
All of these features keep functionality in the service of flavor. Brilliant!
The Kalita Wave also leaves things in the hands of the brewer. This means you can tweak everything to your liking, including the temperature of the brew and water, the type of water, the speed of the pour, where and when the water is poured, the brewing time, the size of the grind, the grounds to water ratio and, obviously, the type of beans used.
You’ll feel like a pro barista handling the Kalita Wave, as you should always feel when making coffee. It’s a pretty hands-on affair, and we love it.
It does take a bit of practice, but think of it as practice to eventually enjoy the perfect cup of joe. The Kalita Wave will improve your coffee making skills drastically, while providing you with some of the smoothest drip coffee around.
Kalita Wave 155 vs 185 Dripper: Which One Is Right for You?
So you’ve noticed that the Kalita Wave comes in different sizes, but you’re not sure which one to get. It really depends on the amount of coffee you want to get out of it and, as usual with coffee, that’s a very personal choice you’re going to have to make on your own. We can help you, though!
This is the smaller version of the Kalita Wave. Using this one mostly means you’ll be making coffee for you and you only. Sounds kind of lonely when you write it like that, but it’s true. The Kalita Wave 155 will make you 350ml of coffee tops, any more than that and you’ll have to make another brew. Alternatively, you could buy two to make simultaneous cups for you and your friend. Always remember to buy the 155 version of the paper filter for your Kalita Wave 155, or else you’ll have an awkward time trying to fit the big filter in the smaller Kalita.
This is the larger version of this product. If you want any more than 350ml of coffee, this is the size you should get. The main advantage of this size is that the Kalita Wave 185 will yield a lot more coffee and (coffee lovers delight!) a lot more bloom. As above, please remember to buy the 185 version of the paper filter for your Kalita Wave 185. Fitting the smaller filter into the 185 will feel odd and will make you want to adjust it constantly.
So there, think about how much you want in your cup of coffee, think about whether you’ll want to make one cup or multiple cups, and think about how much of that sweet bloom you’d like in your cup, then decide which one is right for you.
As you can see, this is a top-notch product from a top-tier company. Not only is it slick, light and easy to clean, but it also makes a superb cup of coffee. You’ll have to tinker around with it to get it just right, but that’s half the fun of making coffee, right?
There are so many coffee makers out there, but the design of the Kalita Wave does make a difference when it comes to flavors. The flat bottom is superior to the usual upside-down conical bottoms we’re used to in so many significant ways.
Being able to pour water in slow spirals so that it hits different grounds every time gives the coffee a richer and more consistent taste, with bloom to boot! And let’s not forget about the waves of both the stainless steel version and the filters, which help with the temperature of the coffee and the pouring process.
When you do decide to buy the Kalita Wave in any of its multiple and colorful incarnations you’ll find the purchase won’t leave a large hole in your pocket. So really, its affordability is another of this product’s greatest strengths.
Is there anything about the Kalita Wave we missed in this article that you’d like us to include? Let us know in the comments section below!