Deciding which dripper to purchase can be overwhelming if you’re venturing into the world of pour-over coffee for the first time.
The market is flooded with a wide range of pour-over brewers that all look very similar.
But two popular options have risen to the top and have become firm favorites with coffee lovers around the globe – the Hario V60 and the Kalita Wave.
They look very similar but don’t let looks fool you. One has a flat bottom, and the other has a conical shape, and each of these drippers brews coffee slightly differently.
Not only that, but the paper filters also differ; these two variations can make a noticeable transformation to your cup of coffee.
If you want to know more about the V60 and the Kalita Wave, stick around. Because in this article, I will be taking a closer look at both.
By the end of this comparison, you will have a clear understanding of which dripper is right for your coffee preferences and lifestyle.
A Closer Look At The Hario V60
Let’s first look at the iconic Hario V60. This V-shaped brewer is a top choice with homebrewers, and its ease of use is where the V60 excels.
The company’s roots can be traced back to 1921 in Tokyo, Japan. Hario wasn’t directly involved in manufacturing coffee brewing equipment but rather high-quality heat-proof laboratory glass.
But over the years, they transitioned to coffee brewing paraphernalia such as coffee drippers, grinders, coffee scales, and even kettles.
It wasn’t until the 80s that their V60 brewer emerged in the United States as an alternative to other manual coffee brewers on the market.
You may or may not know, but the V in the name refers to the shape of the cone dripper, and the 60 references the 60° angled side of the cone.
The spiral detailing on the inside of the dripper enables the water to flow continuously with very little resistance.
A Closer Look At The Kalita Wave
The Kalita Wave is another popular dripper that also originated from Japan.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And back in the late 1950s, Kalita actually started out by copying the German Melitta coffee company (hence the similar-sounding names).
But it wasn’t long before Kalita started producing their own unique paper filters and coffee brewing gear.
The Kalita Wave 185 and the Kalita Wave 155 are two of their most popular brewers. The striking and unique design is like nothing else and something that we should give the company some credit for.
After the Hario V60 had garnered popularity in coffee shops worldwide, the focus then started to move towards the flat-bottomed rival.
The Kalita Wave is prized for both its ease of use and the versatility to experiment to discover your perfect brew.
Its flat bottom and ribbed sides help reduce surface contact with the paper filter, and the three evenly spaced drip holes regulate water flow and extraction time.
V60 vs. Kalita Wave: Key Differences
Now you know a little about the history of both the V690 and the Kalita Wave, let’s take a closer look at how both coffee drippers differ when it comes to brewing; after all, that’s what’s really important.
How the coffee flows and drains through the dripper makes a noticeable difference in how your brewed coffee tastes. Even controlling the drip rate and extraction can be slightly more challenging depending on which brewer you choose.
The Hario V60 has one large hole at the cone dripper’s tip where all the brewed coffee flows through. The Kalita Wave has an entirely different design and functions with a flat bottom with three smaller holes.
The flow rate is reduced in the Kalita due to the small holes compared to the Hario with one big hole.
Due to these differences, the pouring technique is going to be slightly different.
With the Hario V60, most brew recipes call for a steady constant flow until the correct amount of water has been added.
The Kalita Wave typically requires three separate pours allowing the coffee to drain through the coffee bed each time.
The Kalita Wave takes more skill to use, and you have to keep a close eye on your coffee scale and timer while pouring your water over the coffee bed.
Cone vs. Flat Bottom
By looking at both coffee drippers, you can clearly see the differences in design.
The Hario V60 has a 60-degree angle and is shaped like a cone.
The Kalita Wave has a flat bottom with three small holes and a slight ridge to stop the paper filter from touching the base.
The cone shape of the Hario V60 can fool you into thinking that the bottom of the dripper is likely to become over-extracted, whereas the coffee resting at the top would be under-extracted – but that is not the case from my experience.
The clever design with a slightly ridged inner surface combined with the correct coffee grind size and the proper pouring technique ensures that this rarely happens.
Because the Kalita Wave has a flat bottom, many coffee enthusiasts believe that this helps to brew a more consistent cup compared to cone shape drippers because no parts of the ground coffee are in contact with water for extended periods.
In a cone dripper, such as the V60, the water remains in contact with the coffee for longer.
Due to the shape, the water collects in one central location, which helps with an even saturation. The water runs through the coffee grounds faster than in a flat bottom filter.
Coffee Paper Filter Shape
Not all paper coffee filters are created equal and come in various shapes and sizes. The Hario V60 uses a cone-shaped filter, which seems to be one of the more popular filter shapes used in today’s coffee makers.
Many aftermarket manufacturers produce filters that are suitable for the V60, so you don’t have to stick with the original Hario branded filters if you want to save a few dollars.
It seems like I have tried almost all of the different aftermarket paper filters for the Hario V60 over the years. Still, after trying many mediocre filters, I’ve finally settled on a brand called CAFEC.
They have an excellent range of cone-shaped paper filters for pour-over coffee drippers, and my favorites from their store are made from a sustainable material called abaca.
If you’re on the hunt for a good aftermarket paper filter for your Hario V60, I would definitely check them out.
The Kalita Wave utilizes filters that look and function entirely differently. They have a flat bottom and a wavy shape – hence the name “Kalita Wave.”
The wave shape actually serves a purpose and helps to push the brew bed and the hot water away from the side of the dripper.
This neat design also aids in thermal retention of the brew bed, keeping the temperature where it needs to be.
Unlike Hario V60 cone-shaped filters that are relatively easy to find, the Kalita Wave filters are harder to source.
I often find that I have to buy the original wave filters manufactured by Kalita, and so far, I haven’t found a brand that produces a Kalita filter that I enjoy using.
Plastic, Metal, Or Ceramic Coffee Dripper?
You’ll encounter plastic, metal, or ceramic options when choosing a V60 or a Kalita Wave.
My daily coffee brewer is the V60, made from ceramic. After using plastic for many years, I defaulted to a ceramic dripper.
I find that ceramic doesn’t scratch and stain, and I’m always concerned when plastic components and coffee are in contact for prolonged amounts of time.
Sure, ceramic will break if dropped and requires preheating before use. Still, I find that’s a reasonable trade-off for a heavy ceramic dripper that feels solid in the hand.
Apart from ceramic, you can find metal and plastic versions. They all have the same design and function exactly the same. When it comes to price, there is a big difference, and plastic will be the cheapest option, followed by ceramic and then the more pricey metal versions.
Similarly, the Kalita Wave comes in plastic, ceramic, and metal versions, and in terms of heat retention, the same holds true when compared with the Hario V60.
Metal steel drippers are the more popular Kalita’s you will come across in both 185 and 155 sizes.
Plastic, metal, or ceramic coffee dripper? I guess it comes down to which you prefer. They all function the same.
Just remember ceramic and metal are best preheated before using, and ceramic will break if dropped. The choice is yours.
Hario V60 Or The Kalita Wave?
Okay, if you’ve got this far, you should have a good idea of the key difference between a Hario V60 and the Kalita Wave.
If you’ve never used a pour over coffee dripper before, I suggest starting with the V60; it’s excellent for beginners.
The V60 tends to give you a more prolonged aftertaste with a slightly more exciting aftertaste combined with an interesting texture. The V60 has the ability to elevate old and boring coffee beans, transforming them into a tasty cup.
On the flip side, the Kalita Wave typically brews more constant and uniform cups. But the trade-off is it takes skill and more knowledge of what you’re doing.
If you don’t own a good burr coffee grinder, you’ll struggle to get a good consistent grind that the Kalita Wave requires.
The Kalita Wave is a good transition from the Hario V60 once you’re more experienced with brewing variables and know more about different coffees and brewing styles.
I’m not saying that a beginner can’t master the Kalita, but it does take practice and good brewing gear combined with trial and error until you find the sweet spot.