15 Nov 2014

Tutorial: How to Brew Kalita Wave Coffee

24 grams | 400mL | 94C | 3:30 minutes

The Kalita Wave. As of a few years its all the rage. 'Ride the wave' was all around us. I have to say, I wasn't a fan. Why? Every time I ordered a Kalita brewed coffee it tasted muddy and cloudy. Why would you want a muddy drip coffee? Exactly...

Now, recently I have had the opportunity to play with the brew method myself and I have to say, I was wrong. It was never the Kalita Wave that let me down, it was the recipes used by the baristas. With the correct dosage and grind one can get an amazing, clean and clear cup of coffee. As apparently the how to of this coffee contraption is not clear to everyone I thought I would write a tutorial on the subject.

But first a little background.

Kalita is a Japanese brand that has been around since 1958, but has only recently become popular under coffee people. The looks are more similar to expensive batch brewers with the device rocking a flat bottom and the filters having a wavy shape (hence the name).

The design, apart from being nice to look at, has some advantages. The flat bottom with three holes makes it a much easier brew method than for example the ever popular V60. Why?
First of, the flat bottom encourages the brewer to create a column of water, instead of an upside down pyramid, making sure the water is evenly dispersed and all ground coffee is passed through by an equal amount of water. The wave filter, secondly ensures better heat retention and is even said to encourage the releasing of CO2 in the coffee, making it easier to bloom. Which in turn makes it easier to extract flavour from the grounds. 
The three holes in the flat bottom control the flow rate of water, resulting in a longer dwelling time. According to some this is a good thing as it creates complexity in the cup. However, I think this is where some baristas mess it up, creating muddiness rather than complexity.

So what can go wrong?

If you can get a really nice cup of coffee using a wave, then why have I so often gotten a bad one? Things to look out for are, not destroying the structure of the wave filter and using a grind that is a bit coarser. So, what to do?

Coffee brewing on a Kalita Wave

If you would rather see a shortened tutorial in video format, check out the Coffee Strides channel on Youtube.

What will you need

- 6 grams of coffee beans per 100ml of water
- filtered water
- kettle and pouring kettle
- scale
- timer
- grinder
- Kalita Wave
- Kalita Wave filters
- carafe

step 1
Pick your coffee. For filter or drip coffee, always choose a light to medium roasted coffee. This time I went for the Reko by the Coffeecompany. Weigh out your coffee (6 grams to 100 ml of water). Remember this ratio is just a starting point. If you find the coffee to watery or acidic, you can dose a little less. If you find the coffee to thick, strong or bitter, you can dose a little more.


step 2
Because of the flat bottom with the three holes the Kalita Wave sits somewhere between a full immersion and a permeation method. The water does run through the coffee, however when keeping the flow of water even, due to the fact there are only three little holes, the water can sit on the grounds for a long time. To correct this a bit, make sure to use a coarser grind than you would use for any other cone shaped drip methods. 


step 3
Boil some filtered water. The best temperature, depending on personal preference, lies between 75 and 96 degrees Celsius. The hotter, the quicker the extraction will be. Using water that is a bit colder will result in a little more acidity. As the Reko is already quite acidic I went a little hotter this time, using 94 degrees Celsius.

step 4
Rinse your Kalita Wave filter. Do this by pouring water into the middle of the filter. Do not pour over the waves, as this will destroy the form of the filter and this can result in an uneven brew.
Make sure all the water has run through and that the entire filter has been rinsed.



step 5
Add the ground coffee and even it out, laying it flat in the filter. Then get a timer. Slowly add about double the amount of water to ground coffee. This first bit of water is just to bloom your coffee. If the coffee starts dripping, you have added either too much or not distributed the water evenly. Blooming ensures all the CO2 has been released from the bean, which in turn allows the water to actually penetrate the ground coffee and start extracting flavour. So if you skip the blooming part, you will achieve a less successful extraction, because the water particles are pushed away from the ground coffee by the CO2. Which will give you a weak and acidic end result.
The fresher the beans the more blooming you need. Normally it takes between 30 and 60 seconds. You want to wait until the coffee bed stops growing. Then you can move on to the actual brewing of the grounds.



step 6
Slowly add water to the grounds, pouring in circular motions from the middle to the outside, making sure not to pour over the sides of the filter. Fill the filter up to about 1-2 centimetres below the top. Stop pouring and let it drop about 1cm. Then add more water, again in circular motions starting in the middle and fanning out, until you reach the same level you stopped pouring the first time. 
Repeat this until you have added all the water you wanted to (again 100ml to 6 grams of coffee). You want to have all water run through the grounds at 3:30. If your drip is too fast and you are done way earlier, you need a little finer grind. If your drip it too slow, you need a little coarser grind.


Add the end of the brewing, your bed should lie flat.



step 7
Enjoy your coffee



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