Kalita Wave Dripper Review – Why We’re Smiling
Like an unstoppable wave, pour over is taking the coffee world by storm.
Yet, between the overly difficult and the wannabes, it’s hard to find a manual dripper for the casual coffee connoisseur.
Luckily we have the Kalita coffee dripper, a happy marriage between high-quality craft brewing and approachability.
Continue on down for a closer look at this amazing brewer in my Kalita Wave dripper review.
The Kalita Wave 'In A Nutshell'
At first glance, 'the Wave' may seem like your average pour over dripper, but it’s got a bit more going on.
Its flat, three-holed bottom restricts the flow of water, simplifying the overall process. This design feature also produces a slightly more concentrated cup of coffee than other drippers.
The Wave’s unique, ridged filters hold the slurry out away from the dripper’s walls, allowing air to (1) balance the flow of water and (2) act as an insulator, keeping your brew warm.
Compared to other pour over brewers, the Wave is an approachable device that makes a bold yet flavorful cup of coffee. Thats why it's a favourite, year after year.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Pour Over Brewer Such as the Wave
From the name, pour over coffee sounds like a simple process. Pour some hot water over ground coffee et voilà, a fresh cup of joe!
If you think that’s all it takes, then you are in for a nasty surprise.
Pour over coffee is a delicate process that puts quality control back in the hands of the brewer.
Compared to other coffee makers, pour over brewers have a simple design that lets you tinker and tailor each step of the process.
These coffee makers are not for someone looking for a quick cup or someone who prefers espresso. On the other hand, they are great for someone who lives by drip coffee and who enjoys sinking their fingers into each individual step.
They require love and attention but can take your coffee game to a whole new level.
In general, drip coffee is lighter than most other styles of coffee (though not any less caffeinated) with a more complex flavor profile.
Because they are so small and simple, you can easily pack a pour over coffee maker away for a business trip or a camping vacation.
Before you take the proverbial plunge and wrap your mitts around one of these coffee makers, there are two questions you should keep in mind:
- How much time and attention do I want to give my coffee routine?
- Am I looking for something to expand my skills or provide consistent quality?
The Kalita Wave Dripper Review
The Kalita Wave gets its name from the horizontal ridges descending down its walls like waves.
Essentially, it is a wide cone that has a flat plate with three small holes at the bottom.
A baseplate encircles the cone to allow it to rest over any serving vessel, and a curved handle archs from top to bottom.
This dripper comes in three different models: stainless steel, glass, or ceramic. Additionally, you have two different size options to choose from: single cup and 2–3 cups.
Compared to other drippers, the Wave is an approachable coffee maker that requires little fuss to produce a tasty cup.
Its unique shape is designed specifically for improved flow control, which makes it both reliable and predictable.
The Wave would fit best in the hands of someone with a tad more experience than the beginner, and who enjoys the hands-on nature of pour over brewing.
That said, even the amateur, given a little practice and patience, would quickly be on their way to delicious coffee with the Wave.
A Flat Bottom Isn’t Always Bad
Despite what Beyoncé would have you believe, a flat bottom has its benefits.
The unique three-holed, flat underside of the Wave has a specific function: to slow down the flow of water through your bed of grounds.
The amount of time hot water is in contact with the grounds is a key factor in determining the success (or failure) of your brew.
The flat bottom of the Wave offers a stable and predictable way to restrict water flow compared to other manual drippers.
This design feature makes the Kalita Wave a much more forgiving dripper than other pour over drippers, allowing you to brew consistently tasty coffee without meticulously hovering about.
Additionally, the predictability frees you up to focus on other important aspects, like grind and water temperature.
Another possibly unexpected benefit of the flat bottom is that the coffee-to-water ratio of the Wave is slightly different from other drippers.
On average, the Wave requires less water to score a solid extraction. Put another way, it yields a stronger cup with a typical ratio.
Because of the flow restriction, the Wave will have a slightly fuller bodied coffee than the V60, however it will have more noticeable hints of sweetness and acidity than an immersion brewer like a French press.
A Lesson from Cupcakes
This “lesson” I’m referring to doesn’t come specifically from the spongy, icing-drenched sweet cakes that are the kings of toddler birthday parties (and mine).
Instead, it comes from the colorful little paper cups that adorn these sponge-cakes.
To give you a clear picture, the Kalita Wave’s paper filters, with their wavy, vertical ridges, look like an oversized cupcake cup.
These large ridges hold your bed of grounds out away from the walls of the Wave, allowing air to pass between.
It serves a similar function as the grooves on the V60, as the improved airflow hastens the flow of water along the sides, evening out the flow rate and overall extraction.
When it comes to drip coffee, an even extraction is vital.
Yet these ridges allow for more space between the bed and the walls than the V60’s grooves.
This allows air to also serve as an insulator so the walls of the Wave won’t suck the oh-so-essential heat out of your fresh slurry.
One thing to be careful of with these filters is that, without proper storage, they can easily lose their shape.
If you store them upright or in the actual Wave cone then they will be fine, but simply tossing them in the cupboard won’t do.
Designed to Impress and Attract
You may think that the relatively simple designs of pour over drippers would mean that the Wave would look just like all the rest, but you’d be wrong.
Sure, the shape is the same but, like Momma always said, “the devil is in the details.”
Compared to the V60, the Wave looks more classic than modern. Its cone is wide and stout with horizontal ripples running up the side.
A flat baseplate extends around the bottom to allow the Wave to rest atop your cup or carafe, and an angular handle arches from the top of the cone to just above the baseplate .
Most people are familiar with the stainless steel Wave, but it also comes in glass and ceramic.
In terms of function, there is no difference between these three options, though the metal version is obviously the sturdiest of the three.
The Wave also comes in two different sizes: the 155 and the 185. The 155 is strictly for single cup brews, while the 185 can accommodate 2–3 cups.
Kalita also offers a unique kettle that matches the Wave’s wavy design.
Whether you go with the full set or not, this dripper will be an eye-catching statement piece for your kitchen.
Alternatives to the Kalita Coffee Dripper
Even if right now you’re thinking “this is the dripper for me,” it’s worthwhile to at least glance at the competition.
After all, with so many options, it’d be a bit silly to only look at one.
Three other pour over coffee makers you may want to consider are the Hario V60, the Clever Dripper, and the Bee House Dripper.
The Hario V60
I’ve already mentioned this brewer a few times: it is top choice among many coffee lovers and therefore an obvious choice for comparison.
The Hario V60 is a completely open-source pour over dripper, designed from a “no barrier” mindset.
With this dripper, the quality of your coffee is entirely up to your technique and skill.
This means that the V60 will produce an excellent cup, but only with a lot of practice and experimentation.
It comes in a wider range of models than the Wave but requires a lot of attention. Unless you’re prepared to put in some serious time and effort, then avoid this dripper. If you think that the Hario V60 may be a better fit for you, read more about it here.
The Clever Dripper
This pour over brewer’s name is more than a gimmicky marketing tactic. The Clever uses a unique locking mechanism that holds your slurry in the cone until you place it atop your serving cup or carafe.
This feature makes the Clever half immersion brewer and half dripper, but entirely worthy of its name.
It comes only in clear plastic, but you have the option of either a 10 oz. or 18 oz. size.
Compared to the Kalita, the Clever wins out in approachability but loses when it comes to flexibility. The Clever Dripper is a great brewer but won’t allow you the same level of play that the Wave will. If you want to take a closer look at the Clever, click here to read our review.
The Bee House
In terms of quality, the Bee House is quite comparable to the Wave, so it should be no surprise that the two have a similar design.
Like the Wave, the Bee House has a flat bottom, but only two holes to restrict water flow.
Instead of wavy filters, the Bee House has vertical grooves along the inside of the cones to separate the bed of grounds from the walls of the brewer.
Like the V60, these grooves don’t allow as much airflow as the Wave’s filters do, so you may experience some heat loss while brewing.
However, the Bee House uses standard filters easy to find in most supermarkets.
Occupying a level somewhere between master and amateur, the Kalita Wave is a great pour over coffee maker for just about any coffee lover.
Brewing with the Kalita coffee dripper is a straightforward experience that requires little practice to perfect.
The flat bottom design helps control the flow of water and produce a more concentrated cup of coffee while creating a more relaxed brewing experience.