Chemex vs Kalita: Which One Do You Choose?

Learn what the key differences are between the Chemex vs Kalita Wave pour-over drippers before you decide which one to purchase.

A close up of kalita coffee dripper. Chemex vs. Kalita.
The Kalita Wave features a flat bottom with three extraction holes

If like me, you have become enamored with the once-again popular pour-over method of coffee making, you've probably started wondering which dripper to invest in when it comes to the Chemex vs. Kalita Wave.

To make things easier for you, I've tested both and compiled a short comparison, which you can read below.

A Short Overview of Chemex vs Kalita Wave

In the world of coffee makers, the Chemex stands out from the rest due to its striking and appealing design. The coffee maker consists of an hourglass-shaped flask with a funnel-like neck. A wooden collar, tied with a leather thong, makes for easy handling of the Chemex, even when it’s filled with hot coffee. 

The Chemex works with proprietary filters that are thicker than regular filters. These thicker filters prevent most of the coffee oils from escaping into the brew, resulting in a clean and bright cup of coffee with nuanced flavors.

The Kalita Wave is manufactured by the family-owned Japanese company, Kalita Co., which has been producing coffee equipment since the 1950s. It has a markedly different design from other pour-over drippers, in that it features a flat bottom with three extraction holes. This design helps with even extraction and prevents the channeling of water in the coffee bed.

In addition, Kalita’s design also allows for consistency in temperature and even dispersion of water, due to the fact that the dripper has minimal contact with the filter.

What Do the Chemex and the Kalita Wave Have in Common?

Chemex Vs Kalita
Chemex has thicker filters that prevent most of the coffee oils from escaping into the brew

The Chemex and Kalita Wave are both pour-over drippers that produce clear cups of coffee with bright notes and nuanced flavors. Both brewers work well with a medium to medium-coarse grind, which should be roughly the same texture as sea salt. Both are also stove-top friendly and can handle significant changes in temperature without shattering.

Comparison Between a Chemex and a Kalita

                            Chemex

                           Kalita

The Chemex uses proprietary filters that are thicker than standard paper filters. They remove most of the coffee oils and produce a very clean cup of coffee.

The Kalita also uses proprietary filters. However, these are not as thick as those used in the Chemex.

The Chemex boasts an elegant design.

The design of the Kalita is not unpleasant but not very exciting or appealing either.

Water drips through a single hole with the Chemex.

The Kalita Wave features a flat bottom with three extraction holes.

The Chemex is more expensive than the Kalita.

The Kalita will go easier on your wallet than the Chemex.

The design of the Chemex includes the glass flask where the brewed coffee ends up.

The Kalita is only a dripper. You place it on a cup or carafe of your choice. Kalita does offer separate glass servers, however.

With Chemex, you can brew up to 10 cups of coffee per brew.

The Kalita can provide a maximum of four cups of coffee per brew.

The hourglass shape of the Chemex makes it a bit tricky to clean.

The straightforward design of the Kalita makes for quick and easy cleaning.

What’s Better About a Chemex?

One of the top-selling points of the Chemex is undoubtedly its beautiful design, which is sure to provide a conversation topic when you have guests over. Also, due to the thick paper of the filters, you receive a wonderfully clear cup of coffee with the Chemex.

Despite the fact that the Chemex is made from glass, it’s surprisingly durable and sturdy. However, I wouldn’t take the Chemex with me when I go camping or traveling.

What’s Better About a Kalita Wave?

Because of its simple design, the Kalita is very easy to clean and use. Whereas you need to fold the Chemex’s filters in a specific way, the placement of the filter into the Kalita is straightforward. Also, the hourglass design of the Chemex makes cleaning more complex, whereas the Kalita is super easy to clean.

Who Should Opt for the Chemex?

barista holding a kettle while pouring hot water to a chemex filter
Chemex can brew coffee for more than one person and is applicable when brewing for a group

I recommend Chemex for those who may want to brew several cups of coffee at a time. It's also a suitable coffee maker for those who enjoy the finer things in life, such as clear cups of coffee and beautiful designs.

If you don't mind a slightly more complex pour-over brewing method and a higher price tag, Chemex is a good choice. As a Chemex can brew coffee for more than one person, it's a good choice when brewing for a group.

Who Should Opt for the Kalita Wave?

I recommend the Kalita for people who may not need many cups of coffee at a time, and who prefer convenience and utility over design. Since the Kalita is available in stainless steel and is also small in size, it is a portable brewer that you can effortlessly throw into your suitcase.

If you're a practical person who likes a good cup of coffee without too much fuss, go for the Kalita Wave. Like an Aeropress, it's a good choice if you're brewing one or a few small cups of coffee. An entry-level Kalita Wave is also usually a few dollars cheaper than a comparable Chemex.

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