Our Coffee Expert Reviews It In Detail


Do you love the pour-over brews at your local coffee shop but feel too intimidated to try it at home? Consider the Kalita Wave, which offers a happy marriage between high-quality craft brewing and approachability. 

The Kalita was my first pour-over dripper and still holds a valued place on my coffee bar, and it’s the brewer I continue to recommend to beginners. Find out why in this Kalita Wave review.

I’ll cover everything I love about this manual coffee maker, what I’m not so fond of, and how I think it stacks up against the competition.

Summary: Kalita Wave Brewer

  • Flat-bottom pour over dripper with unique ridged sides
  • Three-hole bottom restricts water flow for more even extraction
  • Available in two sizes and five materials

“The dripper is easy to use and consistently makes great coffee without much fuss.”

– Customer

The Full Kalita Wave Dripper Review For 2023

The Kalita Wave pour over brewer has a simple design that hides some clever innovations. The flat, three-holed bottom restricts water flow, making it easier to achieve an even extraction. 

It’s a perfect getaway to manual brewing, delivering a reliably flavorful cup of coffee and making it our pick for the best pour over coffee maker.

The Kalita dripper is available in various materials. While I’ll cover the key differences between them, this review focuses on the stainless steel version – the most popular and the one with which I have the most personal experience.

How We Rated It

  • Design
  • Ease of Use
  • Coffee Flavor
  • Value for Money

How It Looks: Size, Shape, and Material

The Kalita Wave pour-over 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. A baseplate encircles the cone so it can sit on a mug or carafe during brewing, and a curved plastic-coated handle arches from top to bottom.

This dripper is available in four materials: glass, ceramic, Tsubame steel, or stainless steel. Regarding Kalita Wave glass vs steel, I prefer the popular stainless steel due to its durability, light weight (for those on the go, making it suitable for a travel coffee maker), and attractive aesthetic. My Kalita Wave Tsubame review is also very positive, but it’s hard to justify the considerably higher price for this material.

I’ll delve into how the different materials affect usability and coffee quality below.

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

The Kalita comes in two sizes, a single cup (the Kalita 155) and 2-4 cups (the Kalita Wave 185), both identical in design. It’s important to buy the correct size because flat-bottom brewers can be unforgiving when brewing quantities they weren’t designed for.

With a conical brewer, you’ll get a relatively thick coffee bed at the base of the cone, even with a small amount of coffee. But in a flat-bottom brewer, below a certain minimum of coffee, the bed will be shallow and uneven. You’ll end up with a watery and under-extracted brew.

In my experience, the Kalita Wave 185 can’t really brew a good cup with less than 25 grams of coffee. My standard Kalita Wave recipe uses a 1:15 coffee-to-water ratio, equaling about 12 ounces of coffee. It’s perfect for large mugs, travel cups, or serving a few people. 

A photo of Kalita Wave 185

a photo of kalita wave 185 from the inside

I’d advise sizing down to the 155 if you want to brew less than 12 ounces. I suggest a minimum of 17 grams of coffee, just right for an 8-ounce brew. But here’s a weird tip if you want to use less: try packing the bed a little denser before starting your brew. I usually grab my espresso tamper for this, but the back of a spoon works too.

kalita wave 155 in Steven's hand

the bottom side of kalita wave 155

Why I Recommend The Kalita To Pour Over Beginners

Any pour over coffee maker takes more skill than, say, pressuring the “brew” button on an automatic drip coffee maker (1). But that’s the fun! Manual brewers like the Kalita give you complete control over the process.

The Kalita Wave offers two especially beginner-friendly design features. First, the large “wave” ridges of the dripper (and the unique wave-style paper filter) hold your bed of ground coffee away from the brewer walls. They serve a similar function as the grooves on the V60, but even more so. The improved airflow smooths out the water flow rate for a more even extraction. 

This layer of air also acts as an excellent insulator to keep your coffee at the correct temperature throughout the brewing process.

Second, the flat bottom with three holes facilitates the formation of a flat coffee bed, prevents channeling, and restricts water flow in a predictable way. This uniform bed leads to more reliable flavor extraction (​2​​​).

Brewing good-quality coffee is about consistency, and that’s where the Kalita shines – even in the hands of novice baristas.

I love the Wave as an introductory brewer because its design is much more forgiving to poor or inconsistent pouring technique. You can even get by without a gooseneck kettle. Using the Kalita Wave does require a different pouring strategy than a conical brewer; the classic widening spiral doesn’t work here.

I like to use a pulse pouring method, which you can see Steven from Home Grounds demonstrate in this video:

Clogging Issues

I have experienced clogging issues with the Kalita Wave because it uses three small holes rather than one large one. The wet slurry can settle more into one or more of the holes, yielding a slow or uneven coffee extraction. To avoid this, I use a medium-coarse grind and keep the water level relatively high when brewing with the Kalita.

This issue also makes the Wave less forgiving to budget grinders. It performs best when all your grinds are a uniform size.

Interestingly, this problem varies between the different materials. The stainless steel model uses a set of ridges on the base to keep the filter out of the holes, but they are quite small. The ceramic dripper uses larger ridges, and the glass version has a raised center; both are less prone to clogging than the stainless and have a faster flow rate.

Hario vs Kalita

The Hario V60 and Kalita Wave are two of the most popular pour-over drippers, so let’s quickly compare them. The V60 is considered a more advanced dripper. You have more control over your brew, but it takes more practice to achieve consistency. It is better than the Wave for brewing small cups, and it’s cheaper.

Learn more in our detailed look at the Kalita Wave vs V60.

These two brewers are so affordable that I’d suggest owning one of each if you have the budget. Learning to use both will make you a well-rounded pour over coffee professional.

Chemex vs Kalita Wave

The Chemex pour over brewer is more expensive than the Wave or the V60, but it holds its own unique appeal – including a stunning design. Like the V60, it’s a bit more susceptible to user error. It relies on thick double-bonded paper filters that produce a light-bodied crisp cup, perfect for showcasing light roast single origins. It can brew much larger volumes, up to 50 ounces.

How Does A Kalita Pour Over Taste?

The Kalita Wave delivers the clean cup you expect from a pour over brew with a bit more body than other drippers. With the flat-bottom design, I find I can get away with a higher coffee-to-water ratio, which produces a bolder coffee taste.

“It makes coffees that are sweet, bright, and it lets through a low-to-medium body.”

I use medium-coarse coffee grounds with my Kalita Wave, a bit coarser than for a V60. The slightly coarser grind extracts more sweetness and less bitterness, which makes the Wave particularly nice for darker roasts. For the larger 185, I use a coffee grind size similar to a Chemex brew. For the smaller 155, I go a little finer.

What you gain in consistency with the Wave, you lose in versatility. The Wave brews one style of coffee easily and well, but it’s harder to experiment with different styles compared to something like the V60. That’s why I like it as an option for beginners – or anyone content with a consistently tasty coffee.

Does dripper material affect flavor?

Coffee dripper material affects flavor because the materials have different thermal properties (3). Plastic and steel have a lower thermal mass than ceramic or glass, absorbing less heat from the brewed coffee. On the other hand, ceramic, glass, and steel are all poor insulators, allowing more heat to escape the dripper.

While worth considering, these differences are minimized in the Wave because the ridged sides and proprietary filters are designed to keep the bed of coffee off the dripper as much as possible. The bigger factor is the design differences between the materials I already mentioned.

The Price Is Definitely Right

The Kalita Wave stainless steel dripper is a very affordable piece of coffee gear, at around $35 for the 155 and $5 more for the 185. That’s more than a plastic or ceramic Hario V60, similar to the Origami dripper, and less than the Chemex or Aeropress. 

Plus, the stainless steel Wave is virtually indestructible. So it’s a small price for a lifetime of good coffee.

It’s important to note that the Wave is only designed for use with the proprietary Kalita Wave filters, which are more expensive and harder to find than standard conical filters. You can find metal or cloth reusable filters for the Wave, which cut costs and waste, but they won’t yield the same style of coffee.

What we liked:

  • Predictable and easy to use
  • Makes a beautifully crisp and full-bodied coffee
  • Affordable price
  • Attractive and durable design

What we didn’t like:

  • Not suitable for small servings
  • Filters are expensive and hard to find
  • Drain holes can clog

And here’s how Kalita wave compares to other dripper brewers:

Demo Image
Demo Image
Demo Image
Demo Image
Demo Image

Stainless steel, ceramic, glass, Tsubame steel

Plastic, glass, ceramic, stainless steel, copper

155 (1-2 cups), 185 (1-4 cups)

Small 01 (1 cup), Medium 02 (1-3 cups)

3 cup, 6 cup, 8 cup, 10 cup

Small (1-2 cups), Medium (2-4 cups)

Small (1 cup), Large (1-3 cups)

Double-bonded Chemex filters

Standard Melitta conical filters

Don’t Buy The Kalita Wave If…

  • You want more control – For ultimate control, stick with the classic Hario V60 coffee maker. There’s a reason it’s beloved by professional baristas worldwide. Making quality coffee is entirely up to your technique and skill.
  • You want an easy and reliable brew – If you’re not into experimenting and practicing with your brewer, buy the Clever Dripper. It uses a unique locking mechanism that holds your slurry in the cone until you’re ready to filter. You still need the right grind size and water temperature, but pouring skill is removed from the equation.
  • You want to serve a crowd – The best way to brew a full carafe of great pour-over coffee is with the 10-cup Chemex. Not only can it make up to 50 ounces of coffee, but it doubles as a beautiful serving vessel to impress your guests.

The Verdict

The Kalita Wave pour over dripper brews a clean and full-bodied cup that will appeal to every kind of coffee lover. But in my experience, it’s a particularly great introduction to pour over brewing. Thanks to its unique design with a flat bottom and waved sides, the Kalita works with you to control water flow. It all but guarantees extraction consistency even while you’re still mastering the art of the pouring technique.


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