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Here I want to talk about my love of the Kalita Wave coffee brewer, specifically the 155 model. As someone who has done much research and experimentation with the art of pour over coffee, I commend the Kalita company for making a brewer that is simple and yet masterfully utilitarian in design.
First off, the size of the Kalita Wave brewers trains pourers to regulate their pouring speed, which is something easy to mess up when using other brewing devices. For example, if using the smaller Kalita Wave 155 which is designed to brew 6-12 oz. of coffee, the pourer can only pour so much without over flowing, causing he or she to space out each interval ofpouring. Other brewers are much larger, so unless the pourer is very experienced, it is easy to pour too much and risk under extracting the coffee from too short of a brew time (i.e Hario V60 and Chemex). The Kalita allows both the beginner and expert to pour correctly and ensure a proper extraction.
Secondly, the Kalita’s shape and draining system allows for an extremely uniform extraction without risking over extraction. The flat bottom and wide circumference allows all the coffee grounds to equally contact the brewing water. Many brewers such as the Hario V60 with its conical shape leaves the grounds at the top under extracted and the grounds at the bottom over extracted, leading to a more inconsistent brew. Also the shape of the Kalita makes the pour technique less vital (albeit still important) for it is easier to pour the water without missing the coffee grounds and getting a watery brew. The V60 requires much more precision to nail down the pour technique so all no water bypasses the grounds.
(Side note: V60 is a great brewer; it simply requires more skill and attention than other brewers. As seen in the 2015 World’s Brewer’s Cup, 4 of the top 6 finalists used a V60, showing its value in the high precision brewing arena. My love of the Kalita comes from its value as an easier brewer, and in my opinion gives much more even results)
Furthermore, with Kalita’s three holed bottom, the flow rate of the coffee is inherently limited so the brewer can ensure a proper brew time while not needing to have too fine of a grind. The slow flow rate allows for a gentler extraction that is more easily controlled, and therefore more easily adaptable to finding sweet spots of each coffee. Fine grinds can lead to over extraction much more easily than coarser grinds. Once again the V60 can be viewed as an antagonist to that statement with a large single hole at the bottom of the brewer, requiring a finer grind to satisfy a proper brew time.
The Kalita is great for its foolproof nature, easy adaptability, and how it is good for both the amateur and the experienced brewer, for it creates restraints to ensure a good brewing experience. However, the best brewers in the world still favor the V60, evidence given by the World’s Brewer’s Cup. The V60 provides the many options in altering brewing parameters in order to meet the brewer’s standards, which is essential for producing the competition level brews.
Yet, from personal experience I can guarantee that while the V60 can work really well, it takes a lot of effort to dial all the parameters in. The Kalita, on the other hand, really only requires an adjustable grinder, for changing the grind size dramatically changes the brew times.
So, for anyone who is into pour overs or wants to get into pour overs, the Kalita Wave 155 is my best recommendation. Stay tuned for our very own custom ceramic Kalita pour over set!
Here is my Kalita Wave recipe:
Equipment and ingredients
- Kalita Wave 155 dripper with paper filter
- 20-23 grams of medium ground coffee (Adjust grind for brew times)
- 360 grams of 205°F filtered water
- Mug to hold dripper
- Place 155 dripper with paper filter on mug and pour hot water through the dripper to wet the paper and preheat the dripper and mug. Make sure to maintain the ruffled edges of the paper filter when wetting, for sometimes the paper collapses on itself.
- Place the ground coffee in dripper and the mug on the scale. Tare scale.
- Bloom the coffee by pouring 30 grams of water into the dripper and waiting 30 sec. You grind size will dictate how water much is absorbed. Ideally drops of coffee should come out after 15 sec, no sooner.
- After the 30 sec bloom, begin pouring slowly until the top of the brewer is reached. Try to saturate all the grounds evenly.
- Wait until the water level is about 2/3 filled and repeat the pour to the top.
- Do this in ~50 gram steps until the end volume is met (360 grams). Brew time should be between 2:30-3:00 min
Note: If you do not have a scale, do not panic. There are other ways to consistently getting good ratios without one.
For example, you can use the mug you will use as a guideline for measuring the water you bring to a soft boil, and you can find use a measuring cup to measure either ground or whole bean coffee.
My go-to method is to measure water with my standard 12 oz. mug and scoop up exactly a quarter cup of whole coffee beans. That gives a ratio of around 1:16 coffee to water that I normally use in my more precise brewing. It is not perfect, but it gets the job done.