All About the Kalita Wave

ground specialty coffee and Kalita Wave 185It’s easy to see why so many people love drinking pour over coffee. Beyond the vast spectrum of flavors, manual brewing methods let us slow down and create a conscious, mindful connection to the coffee we’re preparing. 


The Kalita Wave is a popular pour over brew method for this very reason. Its approachable design empowers everyone to make an excellent cup of coffee, whether it’s your first time brewing or part of a daily ritual.


Let’s explore what makes the Kalita Wave pour over coffee dripper a staple in homes and coffee shops across the world. 


A Pour Over Coffee Maker Designed With Purpose

The Kalita Wave gets its name from the brewer’s design. If you take a closer look, you’ll see it has a flat bottom with three tiny holes, waved edges (or ridges) along the side, and uses a filter that resembles a giant cupcake wrapper. Each aspect of the design plays a vital role in the brewing process.


Other pour over methods like a Chemex or a Hario V60 utilize a cone shape with a singular hole at the bottom. This style of brewing can highlight coffee characteristics such as acidity, but can also lead to coffee channeling.


Channeling refers to when hot water finds a quick, narrow path through the coffee grounds instead of coming in contact evenly with all the grounds. As a result, the flavorful compounds you want from a coffee are left inside the grounds and not in your drink.


The Kalita Wave’s flat bottom design helps coffee grounds settle evenly across a wider space and reduces the possibility of channeling.


The large “waves” of the filter have a distinct purpose, too. The shape of the filter minimizes water contact with the walls of the dripper, promoting airflow and effectively acting as an insulator.


Brewer Choices

The Kalita Wave comes in three materials: ceramic, glass, and stainless steel. 


The stainless steel Kalita Wave is by far the most popular, known for its portability, sturdiness, and affordable price point. The ceramic and glass brewers offer greater heat retention, yet are susceptible to damage if dropped or mishandled.


Each type of Kalita Wave has advantages beyond its brewing capabilities, too. The stainless steel dripper is an excellent choice for those who want a durable pour over coffee maker for camping or hiking, while homebrewers with an eye for aesthetics tend to opt for a ceramic or glass Kalita Wave for its minimalist and modern appearance.


You can also choose between the Kalita Wave 155 or 185. The Kalita Wave 155 is a single-cup brewer, while the Kalita Wave 185 brews up to 3-4 cups of coffee. 


Filter Options

The Kalita Wave is known for its patented wavy filters. Like most coffee filters, you can opt for a bleached or unbleached option.


Bleached Kalita Wave filters are widely available and use a process called oxygen-bleaching to obtain a stark white appearance. Unbleached filters retain their natural brown color and require a thorough pre-rinse before brewing to eliminate any papery tastes from the filter.


However, both types are single-use filters, meaning you’ll go through a minimum of 365 filters each year if you’re a daily coffee drinker.


If making environmentally-conscious decisions is a priority for you, you’re in luck.


Reusable and sustainable cloth Kalita Wave filters are also an option! One Ebb Filter is good for up to 100 uses and is intentionally designed to fit the Kalita Wave’s structure and water flow. And, if you have a backyard compost pile at your home, the Ebb Filter is biodegradable.


Aside from the environmental benefits, coffee brewed with a cloth filter tends to have a slightly heavier texture and complex flavor profile too. While paper filters trap the natural oils in coffee, cloth filters allow some to flow through, resulting in a well-rounded cup full of nuanced flavors.


An additional advantage to brewing with a cloth filter is a fully transparent supply chain. With paper filters, it can be difficult to know if ethical sourcing practices were followed and where the materials are from. 


If you’re mindful of your impact on the environment and role in the supply chain, and prefer a richer cup of coffee, cloth Kalita Wave filters are your best option.


Start Brewing With a Kalita Wave

With a Kalita Wave and cloth filters in hand, you’re ready to brew deliciously balanced pour over coffee each morning—and we’ll show you how. 


Want to learn more? Check out our How to Brew Coffee With a Kalita Wave recipe.



Anne Mercer is a freelance writer specializing in helping brands and individuals carve out their space in the specialty coffee industry. She is also the co-owner of Victus Coffee, a specialty coffee company based in West Hartford, Connecticut.