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Home » Kalita Wave Review (Read This Before Purchasing)

Kalita Wave 185 and 155 Review – Why We Love This Coffee Dripper

Do you love the pour-over brew at your local cafe but feel too intimidated to try it at home? You’re not alone, and that’s why the Kalita Wave exists. This coffee dripper offers a happy marriage between high-quality craft brewing and approachability.

Continue reading this Kalita Wave review for a closer look at the amazing brewer.

Summary: The Kalita Wave

  • Flat-bottom pour over dripper with unique ridged sides
  • Three-hole bottom restricts water flow for more control
  • Available in two sizes, and either steel, glass, and ceramic

“The quality of the stainless steel is very good. The dripper is easy to use and consistently makes great coffee without much fuss.”

– Customer

The Full Kalita Wave Review

At first glance, the Kalita may seem like your average pour-over dripper, but it’s got a bit more going on. Its flat, three-holed bottom restricts water flow, simplifying the overall process. It also produces a slightly more concentrated cup of coffee than other drippers. 

Compared to other pour-over brewers, the Wave is an approachable device that makes a bold yet flavorful cup of brewed coffee. That’s why it’s a favorite, year after year.

The Kalita Wave
  • Aesthetic Appeal
  • Ease Of Use
  • Brew Control Ability
  • Portability
  • Price
4.4

Aesthetic Appeal – 4/5

The Kalita Wave coffee maker gets its name from the horizontal ridges descending its walls like waves. It is a wide cone with a flat base and three small holes at the bottom. Its unique shape is designed specifically for improved flow control, making it reliable and predictable (1). A baseplate encircles the cone to allow it to rest over any serving vessel, and a curved handle arches from top to bottom. Compared to the Hario V60, the Wave looks more classic than modern (2).

Rather than water dripping through a singular hole, it features a flat bottom with three extraction holes. This eliminates any channeling of water in the coffee bed, resulting in an extremely crisp cup.

This dripper is available in three different materials: a glass, ceramic, or stainless steel version. There are also two size options, a single cup (the Kalita 155) and 2-3 cups (the Kalita Wave 185). 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.

The Kalita Wave 155 vs. 185: Which Is For You?

The features are the same across the Kalita Wave series: the flat bottom, the three small holes, the shape of the filter cone that contributes to the drawdown. Whether you choose the Kalita Wave 155 or 185 depends on how much coffee you typically brew at once (and determines which coffee filters you buy). The only difference is the amount of coffee each model brews.

The Kalita 155 takes about 17-18 g of ground coffee and 300 ml (10 oz) of water, a popular size for a coffee mug. This makes the 155 a natural choice with a large travel mug.

Person holding Kalita wave 155
Kalita wave 155 bottom view

The Kalita Wave 185 brews with 29-30 g of ground coffee and 500 ml (17 oz) of water. Whichever you choose, you’ll need to purchase Kalita’s proprietary filters in the appropriate size. Standard flat-bottom or basket paper filters are not the right shape.

Kalita 185 on table
Kalita 185 inside view

Ease of Use – 4/5

Compared to other coffee makers, pour over brewers have a simple design that lets you tinker and tailor each step. It’s not a push-button brew method like an automatic drip coffee maker; each step requires your hands-on attention.

The Wave would fit best in the hands of someone who enjoys the hands-on nature of pour over brewing and has a tad more experience than a beginner. That said, even an amateur, given a little practice and patience, would quickly be on their way to delicious coffee with the Wave.

Want to try it for yourself? Steven from Home Grounds walks you through how to brew with the Kalita Wave in this video:

When it comes to drip coffee, getting an even extraction is vital – getting it easily is a blessing. And the Kalita Wave is designed to make it as easy as possible. 

The large “wave” ridges hold your bed of grounds away from the walls of the Wave, allowing air to pass between. They serve a similar function as the grooves on the V60. The improved airflow hastens the flow of water along the sides, evening out the flow rate and overall extraction. Yet these ridges allow for even 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 the unique Kalita Wave filters is that, without proper storage, they can easily lose their shape. Store them upright or in the actual Wave cone because simply tossing them in the cupboard won’t do.

A final note about using the Kalita Wave: where other pour-over coffee makers (especially the Chemex) recommend rinsing the filters with hot water before brewing, the Wave does not require it.

Brew Control Ability – 4.5/5

Pour over coffee is a delicate brewing process that puts quality control back in the hands of the brewer. 

The flat base of the Wave offers a stable and predictable way to restrict water flow compared to other manual drippers. The amount of time hot water is in contact with the grounds is a key factor in determining your brew’s success (or failure). 

Kalita claims that the flat bottom helps promote a flat coffee bed during brewing and that this uniform bed leads to more even flavor extraction (​3​​​). This design feature makes the Kalita Wave much more forgiving than other pour-over drippers, allowing you to brew consistently tasty coffee without ceaselessly hovering about. The predictability frees you up to focus on other important aspects, like grind and water temperature.

The Kalita Wave is meant to take medium-coarse coffee grounds – similar to the grind size used in a Chemex. As with all pour-over coffee makers, you should buy whole bean coffee and experiment to find the grind that produces the flavor you want. A fairly coarse grind will extract more of the brighter flavor elements and reduce the more bitter components.

Another benefit of the flat base is that the coffee-to-water ratio of the Wave is different from other drippers. On average, the Wave requires less water to score a solid extraction. So it yields a stronger cup than some other brewers, using a comparable ratio.

The Wave produces a slightly fuller-bodied coffee than the V60. However, it will have more noticeable hints of sweetness and acidity (thanks to the medium-coarse size coffee grounds) than an immersion brewer like a French press.

Portability – 4.5/5

The Kalita Wave gets full marks for portability, like the Bodum Travel French press, Aeropress and Cuppamoka coffee makers – assuming you get the stainless steel model, which is lighter and more durable than the ceramic or glass. The Kalita makes a great companion if you are in the habit of taking your pour over with you camping or traveling.

The fluted paper filters are susceptible to being flattened, so you should be prepared to pack them in something that preserves their shape.

Price – 5/5

The Kalita Wave is close to the same price as its competing pour-over coffee makers. But as top pick in our review of the best pour over coffee makers, having a comparable price puts it ahead of the game.

Things we liked:

  • Predictable and easy to use.
  • Produces a slightly stronger coffee than other pour over brewers.
  • Classic design makes this an attractive addition to any kitchen.

Things we didn’t like:

  • Delicate filters are easy to ruin.
  • Limited flexibility when it comes to grind size.

Don’t buy the Kalita wave if…

  • You want more control over your drink – For ultimate control, the Hario V60 is what you need. The quality of your coffee is entirely up to your technique and skill.  The V60 will produce an excellent cup, but only with a lot of practice and experimentation. Learn more in our Hario V60 review, or check out Hario’s other dripper, a drip pot called the Woodneck.
  • You’re not into experimenting and practicing with your brewer – Prefer a guaranteed delicious brew every time? Buy the Clever Dripper instead. The Clever uses a unique locking mechanism that holds your slurry in the cone until you place it atop your serving cup or carafe. Compared to the Kalita, the Clever wins out in approachability but loses when it comes to flexibility. Read more in our Clever Dripper review.
  • You’re a complete beginner to drip brewing – New to the game but excited to learn? Consider the Bee House dripper. This adorable coffee maker has a straight bottom and only two holes to restrict water flow. Plus, it uses standard filters that are easy to find in most supermarkets. Read our Bee House Coffee Dripper review.

The Verdict

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 Wave dripper is a straightforward experience that requires little practice to perfect. The flat bottom design helps control the flow of water to produce a more concentrated cup of coffee while creating a more relaxed coffee-making experience.

Kalita Wave

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  1. National Coffee Association. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncausa.org/About-Coffee/How-to-Brew-Coffee
  2. Hernandez, M.A. (2020, January 30). A Brief History of Manual Brewing Methods. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2020/01/a-brief-history-of-manual-brewing-methods/
  3. Kevin M. Moroney ,Ken O’Connell,Paul Meikle-Janney,Stephen B. G. O’Brien,Gavin M. Walker,William T. Lee, Analysing extraction uniformity from porous coffee beds using mathematical modelling and computational fluid dynamics approaches Retrieved July 31, 2019 from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0219906
Julia Bobak
I love trail running, rock climbing, coffee, food, and my tiny dog — and writing about all of them. I start every morning with a fresh Americano from my home espresso machine, or I don’t start it at all.

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