The Kalita Wave and the Chemex are two very popular pour over coffee makers. They brew a really good cup of coffee, too. So between Kalita Wave vs Chemex, is there a clear winner? Or is the answer murky?
If you’ve had enough of the puns, let’s get on with this comparison!
Kalita Wave overview
The Kalita Wave is a really unique pour over brewer. While other popular pour over brewers like the Hario V60 have a relatively narrow conical opening, the Kalita Wave has a flat bottom and three holes for the filtered coffee to flow out of.
Three holes is quite a unique design decision on Kalita’s part. There is some debate on whether the three holes help increase the flow rate or not, since the main factor restricting the flow rate is actually the paper filter more than anything else.
Like the Hario V60, the Kalita Wave can be used with any cup of your choice. It is available in glass, ceramic, or stainless steel, and in a variety of sizes.
The Chemex is an iconic American made pour over coffee maker. Made entirely from glass, the looks grab your eye and the hourglass shape makes you want to stare at it all day long.
There is a little ridge on the side of the Chemex which serves as a channel for pouring out the coffee as well as a way to keep air pressure even on both sides of the brewer while your coffee is dripping.
The Chemex uses really thick paper filters and that results in a very bright, clean cup of coffee.
You can find the Chemex in a wide variety of sizes from 3 cups all the way up to 8 cups.
The Classic Chemex has a wooden collar with a leather tie that you use to grip the hot glass for pouring. A newer version comes without the collar but with a handle you can use.
Kalita Wave Vs Chemex: Compared
Design and build quality
The Kalita Wave is a really functional and simple dripper. The most unique thing about the design is the flat bottom and the three holes for water to flow out of.
Overall, I don’t think the holes will make much of noticeable a difference for flow rate, as there are many other factors involved: mainly the thickness of the paper filter you are using.
Kalita filters are pretty thick, so the flow rate will be medium to slow. That’s pretty much where you want it to be, anyway.
Available in stainless steel, ceramic, and glass, you have quite a few choices with the Kalita Wave. I personally prefer stainless steel as I am a klutz and I don’t want to knock it over! That’s why my Hario V60 is plastic, too.
The Chemex is just gorgeous! The glass design and the ridge, coupled with the wooden collar and leather tie just make it mind-blowing!
There are few coffee makers that can rival the Chemex in terms of design and looks, and it’s no surprise that the basic design of the Chemex has remained unchanged ever since its invention back in the 1940s.
The hourglass shape allows you to fit a filter in the top and watch it drip down through the neck into the chamber below. Once you’re done brewing, just decant it out into your favorite cup and enjoy.
Some may think that the glass is a disadvantage, though, as it’s that much easier to break.
I’m going to call it a tie. Both the Kalita and the Chemex have their pros and cons: the Kalita is very versatile and can fit anywhere. The stainless steel model will be nearly indestructible. On the other hand, the Chemex is just something else in terms of looks and design.
There are a lot of variables that go into brewing pour over coffee. For an even extraction, you need to pour nice and slowly, and make sure you bloom the coffee with about 20% of your total water before you add any more.
The Kalita Wave uses a pretty thick filter, so all sediments are filtered, and the resulting cup is clean and very bright.
The flat bottom may help in wetting the grounds more evenly, leading to a more even extraction, but that depends on your pouring technique, too!
Sine the Chemex also belongs to the family of pour over coffee makers, the brewing method is pretty much the same as the Kalita.
However, instead of a flat bottom, the Chemex has a conical bottom like the Hario V60. One argument in favor of a conical bottom is that it helps “guide” the water to drip out of a single, precise point.
That may result in a slower brewing time, though.
We can’t really call a clear winner in the coffee quality department because there are too many variables. Even though we used a medium roast ground medium-fine for both brews, you may find that a light roast, dark roast, or coarser grind gets you different results than what we saw.
Ease of use
The Kalita is a pour over brewer, which means there is going to be a little skill involved in brewing. However, it’s nothing that you can’t learn and get the hang of within a few brews.
The keys to a good pour over coffee are the grind size, the speed of your pour, and the brew time. These three things work together to make a good cup of coffee.
Because the filter is so thick, the brew may take a little longer than the expected 2 to 2.5 minutes, so some folks advise to increase the dose of ground coffee and make the grind size a little bigger to compensate.
The Chemex is also a pour over brewer, but it can make many more cups of coffee in one go than the Kalita can. Still, everything that applies to the Kalita applies to the Chemex, right down to the thicker filter.
This is a tough one! Both brewers require the same skill level and practice to use, so it’s not fair to say one is easier than the other. It is simpler to call winners if you were comparing pour over to a different brewer like a french press!
However, the fact that the Kalita has a flat bottom makes it much easier for the water to wet the grounds evenly, and
The Kalita is available in many different materials and sizes, but as of now, the cheapest one which is made of glass costs $26.03.
The Chemex is also available in many different sizes, and the cheapest one as of now costs $39.91.
Conclusion: is there a clear winner?
After comparing these two coffee makers, it’s hard to call a clear winner. Both brew similar cups of coffee, since they’re both coffee drippers at heart.
However, the Kalita is a little more convenient to use as there are smaller one available and you can use them with any cup.
The Chemex is the best looking coffee maker around, though, and as an added bonus, they’re made in the USA if you wish to support US-based businesses.
Last update on 2021-10-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API