For anyone in a big stinking hurry (I understand 🙂), you can jump to the step-by-step guide on brewing with the Kalita Wave pour over.
What is Pour Over Coffee?
To fully understand why you want to learn the steps to make pour over coffee with a Kalita Wave brewer, it’s worth knowing why you should make pour over coffee in the first place. There are lots of articles that cover it, so I won’t go on too long. In short, it’s a more-controlled way to brew coffee, so you get a better, cleaner, tastier cup of coffee.
A pour over brew of coffee isn’t like a machine or a French Press, which I think are the most-known types of brew. In a machine, it does the slow dripping of water over coffee (the of a classic American Mr Coffee machine). A French Press is an immersion method, where the the coffee beans (grounds) and water are mixed thoroughly, and then strained out.
In a pour over brewer, a human is manually pouring the water over the coffee. This is good for consistency of ground-coverage, for making sure temperatures are ideal, and for the relaxing ceremony (I may be alone on the last one, but I doubt it).
How Does the Kalita Wave Brewer/Dripper Compare to Other Pour Over Coffee Methods?
So, there are lots of way to make pour over coffee. “Chemex pour over” is one of the most well-known brands. “Hario V60” is another. Kalita Wave is probably the third best-known brand of pour over device/tool.
What differs between different pour-over systems isn’t just the manufacturer (although that surely is one), but also how it works. In general, pour over systems have different sizes, placements, filters (made for specific systems) and quantity of holes through which the water passes with the coffee, and that changes the way the final product tastes.
The Chemex pour over system is one of the largest openings of all the pour over coffee brewing equipments and the Hario V60 is a little smaller. The Kalita Wave pour over’s hallmark is that is has three much-smaller holes at the bottom. The three small holes of a Kalita Wave Dripper makes it somewhat easier for a novice (or tired person, etc.) to brew in, because your water is automatically held in contact with the coffee for specific flow rate, so you’re less likely to make brown water with a in-exact grinding of coffee than you would with a Chemex.
Brewing with the Kalita Wave 155 vs 185 Dripper
I’ve had a glass Kalita Wave 185 since Megan got me one for Christmas. I love it. But one of the first speed-bumps you’ll hit shopping for the Kalita is that there are two sizes, the 155 and 185. And best I can tell, these numbers have no direct relationship to something about the brew—not grams of coffee beans, not grams of water, nothing (maybe it’s a flow rate metric? I never took fluid dynamics in college 😐). In short, a Kalita Wave 155 recipe will look pretty familiar to a 185 user.
But, as you’d expect, the 185 is bigger than the 155. Which one should you get? Here’s what Kalita itself says:
- 155: “This 155-size Wave dripper is optimized for brewing a single-serving of brewed coffee. We recommend this dripper for about 18-24 grams of coffee, yielding 12-16 fl oz of brew.”
- 185: “We recommend this size (#185) for brewing about 26-45 grams of coffee, yielding between 16 and 26 ounces of brewed coffee.”
So, if you’re typically brewing a single cup with your Kalita Wave pour over, get a 155. If you’re typically brewing for two, or an American cup 😝, use the 185. That said, my go-to Kalita Wave 155 recipe is to brew 22 grams of coffee for a ~12oz cup of coffee. I have no complaints! I think if you tried to brew with 40 grams in a 155, you’d have significant frustration, malfunctions, and filter messes.
Glass vs. Metal vs. Kalita Wave Ceramic?
In addition to two sizes, Kalita Wave pour over systems offer both sizes in three materials. Transparent glass, stainless steel. or the Kalita Wave Ceramic. In my searching, some people have complained about the durability of the glass Kalita Wave Drippers (the kind I have). I certainly haven’t had an signs of breakage or wear in 6 months of regular use. But I’d also not consider packing a glass Kalita for camping or even airline baggage handlers without some trepidation.
Mostly, in an average kitchen, this feels like it comes down to how worried you are about being clumsy and likely you are to try to travel with the dripper. I trust myself enough to have mostly double-walled glass mugs, and I trust myself with a glass Kalita dripper. But some people also probably prefer the appearance of the steel. Mostly I’d consider this an aesthetic rather than practical choice.
My (Micro) Kalita Wave Review
In short, my Kalita Wave pour over review is this: I love it. But because I don’t have a wealth of experience or comparative analysis under my belt, I’ll refrain from reviewing it in full until some later date. But this tool is the de-facto way I make coffee, and also why I’m not desperately searching around for new pour over brew methods or otherwise.
I do think that it takes longer to make a cup of pour over coffee in the Kalita Wave than it does in the AeroPress. And it takes much more hands-on work than a drip coffee machine. It also takes (a bit) longer than a French Press, and more hands-on work too, if you ignore cleaning the French Press (sucks).
The Kalita is easy, and before we got our Baratza Encore, I was still making pretty good coffee with a sub-par grinder. So I recommend it heartily if you’re in that situation. If you’ve already got a Chemex or Hario, it’s too early for me to tell if you’d get much benefit from one.
How To Brew Coffee with the the Kalita Wave
Materials I use for the Kalita wave pour-over process
- Good coffee beans
- Hot water, ideally in a nice kettle
- Kalita Wave Dripper
- Kalita Filter, be sure to get the right size for your brewer (155 or 185)
- Collecting vessel (mine), this is where the coffee drips
- Kitchen scale (optional) but helpful
I’ll list gram totals throughout this recipe. I think they’re helpful to get a sense, but you don’t absolutely need one. Because the Kalita Wave is metering the flow with its smaller holes, it’s a rather forgiving brew system for different pour rates, so you don’t need to stress it much that you get exactly (for example) 25g per 15 seconds.
The Precise Brewing Steps for the Kalita Wave 185
- Start your water heating to 205F, or 96C. I prefer to do this first, as it typically takes 90-150 seconds for my favorite kettle (AMZN link) to get up to temp.
- Grind the coffee to a medium grind. I typically do 31 grams, if I’m making 500mL. Grind-size, I default to 22 on a Baratza Encore. Visually, that ends up looking like about what I think of as beach sand, bigger than table sugar. (A courser grind, say 30, doesn’t ruin the coffee, it just makes it weaker. A 14, which I’ve tried by accident, leads to a bitter over-extracted cup.)
- Get your kitchen scale. Stack the Kalita Dripper on top of the vessel you want it to drip in to (on the scale). For me, most of the time, this is the server that Megan got me with the Kalita 185 itself. But whatever works.
- Put the filter into the dripper basket. This should be pretty obvious ;p
- [Skippable if you’re not so fussy] Once your water is up to temperature, pour some through your filter and dripper, and into your collecting vessel. I like this for both getting rid of a possible “paper taste”, and to preheat. Pour that water out (I often put it in my drinking mug).
- Now, pour the coffee to the inside of the Kalita Wave filter. I tare (zero) my scale after this. It make measuring the rest way easier.
- Bloom the coffee with about 50g, or enough to get all grounds wet. (I wrote way more about the bloom.) If your grounds don’t grow, you can skip the ~30 seconds of waiting I’d recommend if they’re active.
- Now, you’re brewing. Pour water over the grounds at a steady rate, making sure they all stay wet and you don’t overrun your filter. At this point it’s a style game, and different people do it different. You can pour in short quick spurts of ~25g of water, or do two or three big pours of over 100g with longer waits in between. Because the Wave is a flow-constrictor (much more so than other brewers, discussed more above), anything will yield a pretty similarly good cup.
- When you’ve poured about enough through (I stop at 525g most of the time), stop and let the remainder drip out. You can avoid the last few drips (some say they’re bitter), but I just wait for the dripping to (effectively) stop.