Pour-Over Coffee Makers: Chemex vs Kalita Comparison

Are you a coffee enthusiast who revels in the art of brewing the perfect cup? If so, you know that the choice of coffee maker can significantly impact the taste and quality of your morning brew. Among the various brewing methods, pour-over coffee makers have gained immense popularity for their ability to extract rich flavors and nuanced aromas from freshly ground beans. Within the realm of pour-over brewing, two names stand out: Chemex and Kalita.

I continuously seek the ultimate coffee experience and have had the pleasure of using Chemex and Kalita pour-over coffee makers. The first time I laid eyes on a Chemex, I was captivated by its elegant hourglass design, reminiscent of a piece of art. As I carefully poured hot water over the meticulously placed coffee grounds, I marveled at the clarity of the glass and the gentle bloom that unfolded before my eyes. The result was a cup of coffee that delighted my senses with its pure, clean brew taste. The Chemex coffee maker quickly became a centerpiece in my brewing ritual, a symbol of both beauty and functionality.

However, my coffee journey took an exciting turn when I discovered the Kalita Wave series. Its sleek and modern design intrigued me, and I was eager to explore its unique features. The flat-bottom coffee bed geometry, coupled with the patented “Wave” filter and three-hole design, promised a consistent and even extraction. As I immersed myself in the process, I found solace in the meditative nature of brewing with the Kalita Wave. Every pour became a deliberate act, every sip a revelation of smooth, clean flavors.

Now, let’s embark on a comparative journey as we explore these two renowned pour-over coffee makers’ distinguishing features, advantages, and drawbacks. We’ll delve into the design, brewing methods, filter quality, material durability, versatility, ease of use, and their ultimate taste experience. By the end, I hope you’ll better understand whether Chemex or Kalita is the perfect companion for your daily coffee ritual. So, grab your favorite mug, and let’s explore the world of pour-over coffee with our Chemex vs Kalita comparison.

Chemex Pour Over Coffee Maker Overview

With its distinctive hourglass shape and exquisite craftsmanship, the Chemex Pour Over Coffee Maker has captured the hearts of coffee enthusiasts worldwide. Let’s descend into the features and offerings that make the Chemex an exceptional brewing device.

Chemex Ottomatic: The Perfect Marriage of Design and Functionality

The Chemex Ottomatic is a stunning testament to the harmonious blend of design and functionality. Its clean and simple aesthetics perfectly complement the elegance of the glass carafe, creating a visually captivating brewing experience. As you brew your specialty coffee with the Ottomatic, you’ll appreciate how it effortlessly combines beauty and science, delivering a cup of coffee that looks exquisite and tantalizes your taste buds.

Chemex Classic Series: Simple Function and Visual Elegance

The Chemex Classic Series exemplifies the perfect balance between simple function and visual elegance. Designed to extract the optimum flavors from your coffee grounds, this series delivers a rich-bodied cup of coffee that satisfies even the most discerning palates. Available in three, six, eight, and ten-cup versions, the Classic Series offers versatility to cater to your desired brewing quantity and preferences.

Chemex Glass Handle Series: Beauty and Convenience Combined

For those seeking both beauty and convenience, the Chemex Glass Handle Series is an excellent choice. This series features the iconic hourglass carafe paired with a sturdy and graceful handle. As you pour hot water over the coffee grounds, you’ll appreciate the ease and comfort the handle provides, making your brewing experience seamless. The Glass Handle Series is available in various cup versions, allowing you to select the perfect size for your brewing needs.

Chemex Handblown Series: Artisanal Craftsmanship in Coffee Brewing

For those who appreciate the artistry of coffee brewing, the Chemex Handblown Series is a true delight. Crafted by skilled artisans, each handblown coffeemaker showcases exceptional clarity and exquisite workmanship. It’s no wonder these masterpieces have found their way into the permanent collections of esteemed institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Handblown Series is available in three, five, eight, and thirteen-cup versions, offering options to suit various brewing requirements.

Chemex Filter Paper: Unmatched Quality and Purity

What sets Chemex apart is its commitment to exceptional filter paper quality. Chemex Bonded Filters go beyond traditional filters, removing undesirable elements such as bad fats, bitterness, acidity, and sediments. Manufactured in the USA using North American materials, these filters are sustainably harvested, ensuring a cleaner and more refined cup of coffee.

Chemex Glass Quality: Ensuring Pure and Untainted Coffee

One of the hallmarks of the Chemex Pour Over Coffee Maker is the exceptional glass quality used in its construction. Made from high-quality lab glass, the Chemex carafe imparts no flavor or chemicals into your brewed coffee. This purity ensures that you savor every nuance and subtlety of your chosen beans, allowing you to experience coffee in its truest form.

Versatility of Chemex Coffee Maker: Beyond Coffee Brewing

The Chemex Pour Over Coffee Maker is not limited to brewing coffee alone. Its versatile design allows you to explore a range of beverages. Whether you’re craving a fragrant cup of tea, a refreshing glass of iced coffee, or even indulging in the art of cold brew, the Chemex can accommodate your brewing desires.

Appreciating Chemex: A Legacy of Elegance, Ease, and Taste

Throughout its remarkable journey of over 80 years, the Chemex Pour Over Coffee Maker has become an object of admiration and fascination. Its elegant presence can be found in renowned museums worldwide.

Pros of Chemex Pour Over Coffee Maker:

  • Stylish Design: The Chemex boasts a timeless, iconic design that adds a sophisticated touch to any kitchen.
  • Quality of Brew: It produces clear, full-flavored coffee without oils, offering a distinct and enjoyable coffee experience.
  • Brew Capacity: The Chemex is available in various sizes, allowing you to brew up to 10 cups at a time, catering to individual needs or larger groups.
  • Health Benefits: Uses bonded paper filters that reduce oils and cholesterol, making it a healthier option compared to unfiltered coffee methods.
  • Material Quality: The carafe is made of BPA-free borosilicate glass, which is a health-conscious and environmentally friendly material.
  • Durability: Despite being made of glass, the Chemex is reasonably durable and is dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.
  • Precision and Control: Offers more control over the brewing process compared to automatic drip coffee machines.

Cons of Chemex Pour Over Coffee Maker:

  • Need for Special Filters: Requires the purchase of special paper filters, adding to the overall cost and maintenance.
  • Cleaning Difficulty: Can be somewhat tricky to clean, especially the wood collar and leather tie, which need to be removed before washing.
  • Cost: Higher price point compared to some other pour-over options.
  • Less Full-Bodied Coffee: The coffee produced is less full-bodied due to the filtering process, which might not appeal to those who prefer a richer mouthfeel.
  • Not Suitable for Espresso Lovers: Specifically designed for pour-over drip coffee, not suitable for making espresso.
  • Brewing Time: Takes more time and attention than other brewing methods, requiring about 8-15 minutes to brew a full pot.
  • Portability Concerns: While technically portable, its glass construction makes it less ideal for travel or rugged use.

Kalita Coffee Pour Over Maker Overview

Now, let’s focus on the Kalita Coffee Pour Over Maker, specifically the remarkable Kalita Wave series. This innovative coffee dripper has gained a reputation as the pinnacle of pour-over brewing. Let’s explore the unique features and delightful experiences the Kalita Wave can bring to your coffee ritual.

Kalita Wave Series: The Pinnacle of Coffee Drippers

The Kalita Wave series is a testament to the ingenuity of coffee brewing. Its flat-bottom coffee bed geometry, coupled with the patented “Wave” filter and three-hole design, work together harmoniously to achieve an even extraction that takes your coffee to new heights. I like that you can always expect a consistently delicious and nuanced cup of coffee that tantalizes your taste buds.

Available Options: Stainless Steel, Glass, and Ceramic

The Kalita Wave offers three distinct styles: stainless steel, glass, and ceramic. Each material brings its own advantages to the brewing experience. The stainless steel option offers durability and excellent heat retention, perfect for those who value longevity and insulation. The glass version provides a visually appealing brewing process, allowing you to witness the mesmerizing flow of water through the coffee bed. And for those who appreciate the classic touch of ceramic, it offers exceptional heat conductivity and an elegant aesthetic.

Versatile Brewing: Cup or Brew Stand

The Kalita Wave gives you the freedom to choose your preferred brewing method. Whether you desire to brew directly into a cup or mount the Kalita Wave on a brew stand like the TruBru, the choice is yours. For a versatile brewing experience, I recommend the Kalita 185 size. It accommodates approximately 26-45 grams of coffee grounds, yielding between 16 and 26 ounces of brewed coffee, which is just the right to make it through a Monday morning meeting (or sharing with a friend).

Kalita Wave: An Enjoyable Brewing Experience

One of the joys of using the Kalita Wave is its compact and user-friendly design. It takes up minimal space in your cupboards or counter, and cleaning is a breeze with a quick rinse or occasional hand-washing. Paired with the convenience of paper filters, the Kalita Wave ensures a straightforward and hassle-free brewing process. As you perfect your grind and proportions, using the Kalita Wave becomes a daily meditation, immersing you in the art of coffee preparation.

Consistent Results: Smooth and Clean Coffee Brewed Every Time

When it comes to the Kalita Wave, consistency is key. Its unique design and meticulous engineering deliver smooth and clean coffee with each brew. The flat-bottom bed geometry promotes an even extraction, while the “Wave” filter prevents clogging and encourages a uniform flow rate. Finding the ideal coffee grounds and water ratio for the Kalita 185 is the secret to unlocking its full potential, resulting in a cup of coffee that is rich, flavorful, and utterly satisfying.

Overall Satisfaction: A Delightful Home Coffee Experience

Personally, my experience with the Kalita Wave has been delightful, elevating my home coffee experience to new heights. The Kalita Wave’s ability to always deliver a cup of coffee that is smooth, aromatic, and free from bitterness has made it a cherished companion in my routine. It’s more than just a coffee dripper; it’s an invitation to savor the simple pleasures and indulge in the art of brewing.

Pros of Kalita Wave Pour Over Coffee Maker:

  • Design and Material Options: Available in stainless steel, glass, or ceramic, ensuring temperature consistency and catering to personal preferences​​.
  • Compact and Lightweight: Ideal for small kitchens, offices, and dorm rooms because it’s easy to store​​​​.
  • Affordable: Reasonably priced compared to other pour-over coffee makers​​​​.
  • Ease of Use: Perfect for beginners and seasoned brewers, ensuring consistent brewing results.
  • Strong Brew Quality: Capable of producing a stronger brew with less risk of over-extraction​​​​.
  • Easy to Clean: Simple cleaning process thanks to its design​​.

Cons of Kalita Wave Pour Over Coffee Maker:

  • Specialty Filters Required: Needs proprietary Kalita paper filters, which must be purchased separatelyy.
  • Limited Brewing Capacity: Cannot brew multiple cups at a time; suitable for single servings only​​.
  • Practice Required: Not for casual users, as mastering its use may take some time and practice​​.
  • Small Handle: The handle is relatively small, which may affect handling and pouring​​.
  • Delicate Filters: The filters can be too delicate and prone to damage​​.
  • Grind Size Flexibility: Limited flexibility in grind size, which might affect the ability to experiment with different coffee types​​.

Chemex vs Kalita: A Feature-by-Feature Comparison

Now that we’ve explored the intricacies of the Chemex and Kalita pour-over coffee makers separately, it’s time to declare a winner in each category. Let’s plunge into the showdown and see who comes out on top!

Chemex

  • Elegant Design
  • Superior Coffee Flavor
  • Pour over and carafe together
  • Versatility
  • Easy to Use and Clean

Kalita Wave

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  • Sleek and Functional Design
  • Even Extraction
  • Versatile Brewing Options
  • Durability and Material Options
  • Compact and Easy to Clean

Design and Aesthetics

  • Chemex: With its elegant hourglass carafe and a range of handle options, the Chemex exudes sophistication and grace. It’s a timeless beauty that adds a touch of elegance to any coffee brewing ritual.
  • Kalita: The Kalita Wave series boasts a sleek and modern design that catches the eye. Available in stainless steel, glass, and ceramic, it offers a variety of material options to suit different aesthetics.

Winner: Chemex. Its iconic hourglass carafe and handle options make it a stunning centerpiece in any kitchen.

Brewing Method and Extraction

  • Chemex: The Chemex’s patented CHEMEX filters, controlled flow rate, and “bloom” technique ensures optimal extraction, bringing out the rich flavors of your coffee.
  • Kalita: With its flat-bottom coffee bed geometry, patented “Wave” filter, and three-hole design, the Kalita Wave ensures an even extraction, resulting in a delightful cup of coffee.

Winner: Draw. Both Chemex and Kalita excel in their brewing methods, delivering exceptional flavors.

Brewing Capacity

  • Chemex: The Chemex offers a range of sizes, from three to ten cups, catering to different brewing needs and occasions.
  • Kalita: The recommended Kalita 185 size allows you to brew around 26-45 grams of coffee, yielding 16-26 ounces of deliciousness.

Winner: Chemex. Its wider range of sizes provides more flexibility for brewing larger batches of coffee.

Filter Paper Quality

  • Chemex: The CHEMEX Bonded Filters excel in removing undesirable elements, resulting in a clean and flavorful cup of coffee.
  • Kalita: Kalita’s Wave series uses its own high-quality filter paper, ensuring top-notch performance and filtration.

Winner: Chemex. Its CHEMEX Bonded Filters are renowned for their superior quality and ability to deliver an immaculate brew.

Material and Durability

  • Chemex: Crafted from high-quality lab glass, the Chemex is durable and ensures your coffee’s purity.
  • Kalita: The Kalita Wave comes in stainless steel, glass, and ceramic options, each offering durability and style.

Winner: Chemex. Its high-quality lab glass construction ensures long-lasting durability without compromising the purity of your coffee.

Versatility of Use

  • Chemex: Beyond coffee, the Chemex allows you to brew various beverages, including tea, iced coffee, and cold brew.
  • Kalita: The Kalita Wave opens doors to experimenting with different types of coffee and flavors.

Winner: Chemex. Its versatility in brewing various beverages gives it the upper hand in this category.

Ease of Use and Cleaning

  • Chemex: The Chemex brewing process is simple and straightforward, making it a joy to use. Cleaning is a breeze with a quick rinse or gentle hand washing.
  • Kalita: The Kalita Wave’s compact size, easy cleaning, and simple usage with paper filters make it a convenient brewing companion.

Winner: Kalita. Its compact size and hassle-free cleaning process make it a user-friendly option.

Taste and Flavor Profile

  • Chemex: By eliminating undesirable elements, the Chemex allows the true taste of your beans to shine, resulting in a clean and flavorful brew.
  • Kalita: The Kalita Wave’s extraction process produces a smooth and clean flavor profile, highlighting the nuances of your coffee.

Winner: Kalita. Its extraction process creates a remarkably smooth and clean flavor profile.

Personal Experience and Satisfaction

  • Chemex: I continue to praise the Chemex for its elegance and consistency in delivering a fantastic cup of coffee.
  • Kalita: I enjoy the Kalita Wave’s reliability and the delightful coffee it produces.

Winner: Draw. Both Chemex and Kalita have dedicated fans who swear by their brewing prowess.

Price and Availability

  • Chemex: The Chemex coffee makers are available in a range of price points, catering to different budgets and preferences.
  • Kalita: Kalita coffee pour-over devices are competitively priced and can be purchased from various retailers.

Winner: Draw. The pricing and availability of both Chemex and Kalita are accessible and widespread.

Final Thoughts

Chemex and Kalita each bring unique strengths to the table. Your choice ultimately depends on your personal preferences and brewing needs. So, consider the categories that matter most to you: design, brewing method, capacity, filter paper quality, material durability, versatility, ease of use, and taste. Remember, the journey of making exceptional coffee is enjoyable, and both the Chemex and Kalita promise a delightful brewing experience.

Now, armed with the knowledge of their differences and similarities, it’s time to embark on your pour-over coffee adventure. Unleash your inner barista and savor every sip of the extraordinary coffee this coffee equipment can produce. Cheers to exceptional mornings and blissful coffee moments!


Frequently Asked Questions

Does the type of roast affect the brewing performance of Chemex or Kalita?

Yes, the type of roast can impact the brewing performance. Lighter roasts tend to highlight more delicate flavors and may require slight adjustments to the brewing parameters, such as a finer grind. Darker roasts, on the other hand, are often more robust and may benefit from a coarser grind and slightly longer brewing time.

Can I use Chemex or Kalita for brewing iced coffee or cold brew?

Absolutely! Both the Chemex and Kalita can be used for brewing delicious iced coffee or cold brew. Simply adjust the brewing parameters to accommodate the lower temperature and longer steeping time required for these methods. Cold brew typically involves a coarser grind and a longer steeping period.

Are there any special techniques or tips for using Chemex or Kalita effectively?

Yes, here are a few tips. Pre-wet the filter thoroughly before adding coffee grounds to reduce the paper taste. For both Chemex and Kalita, use a gooseneck kettle for precise water pouring. Practice the “bloom” technique by adding a small amount of water to allow the coffee to degas before continuing with the full pour. Maintain a consistent pouring rate to ensure even extraction. When making more than one cup, make sure to maintain your brew ratio.

How does the taste of coffee brewed with Chemex differ from that of Kalita?

The taste can vary based on personal preference, but in general, Chemex brews coffee with a clean and bright cup. Kalita, on the other hand, often produces a cup with a smooth and balanced taste. Both methods excel in bringing out the unique qualities of the beans.

What is the recommended grind size for Chemex and Kalita pour-over brewing?

For Chemex, a medium-coarse grind is generally recommended to balance extraction and avoid over-extraction. Kalita benefits from a medium grind size to promote even extraction and prevent clogging.

Can I brew tea using Chemex or Kalita coffee makers?

Yes, both Chemex and Kalita can be used for brewing tea. However, it’s important to note that the flavors of coffee and tea can be absorbed by the materials, potentially affecting future brews. If you choose to brew tea in them, it’s advisable to dedicate a separate brewer specifically for tea to avoid flavor transfer.

What grind size should you use in a Chemex?

For Chemex, a medium-coarse grind is typically recommended. The coffee grounds should resemble coarse sea salt to facilitate a balanced extraction. If you want a stronger brew to make iced coffee, you can grind as fine as table salt, but you will need to adjust your water-to-coffee ratio to account for the melted ice.

Picture of About the Author Kris Silvey

About the Author Kris Silvey

As a semi-professional at-home barista and full-time software engineer, my love for coffee borders on obsession. By combining my passion for coffee with an engineering mindset, I strive to perfect my brewing process and share that knowledge with each of you.

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