The Hario V60 and Kalita Wave are two world-class manual pour-overs, and each showcases what the brew method is capable of.
There are notable differences between the two, however, and these differences make each particularly well-suited for a given type of home barista. We feel that the Hario V60 is ideal for an experienced (or practicing) home barista, who has the time necessary to perfect their pouring technique. The Kalita wave is preferable for a novice barista, or someone who can’t spend five minutes solely devoted to their coffee making.
Here’s a breakdown of which one would be best for your home coffee setup.
In This Guide:
- Overall Quality: Both Are World-Class
- Design Differences: Profile and Holes
- Filter Differences: Kalita Waves Require Special Filters
- Brewing Adjustments
- Brewing Technique: Pouring Without Channeling
- Which is Better, the Hario V60 or Kalita Wave?
- Should You Get the Hario V60 or Kalita Wave?
Overall Quality: Both Are World-Class
Both of these manual pour-overs are truly world-class brewers, and that’s not just marketing speak. The Kalita Wave won the World Brewers Cup in 2013, and the Hario V60 six times (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2021).
With just one win, each of these entered a small class of just five brewers that have won the World Brewers Cup. Regardless of whether you ultimately choose the Hario or Kalita, you’ll be getting one of the best manual pour-overs available.
Design Differences: Profile and Holes
The fundamental differences between these two manual pour-overs literally lie in their sides and their bottoms. The sides also are what give each its respective name.
The Hario V60 is so-named for its V-shaped cone with 60° sides. The cone’s 60° sides have ridges along them, which allows for a constant flow of water even as the coffee expands against the wall’s sides during brewing. The brewed water is funneled down to the V-shaped bottom that has one single hole.
The Kalita Wave is so-named because the sides of its cone are contoured with proprietary wave ledges. As water flows down the contoured sides, it flows to a flat bottom that has three holes for brewed coffee to drip through.
Before getting into the implications of these design differences, it should be noted that price may have a moot impact on selection. Hario V60s tend to be $10-$35, while Kalita Waves tend to cost slightly more at $25-$40.
A ~$15 savings shouldn’t have much impact on choice, given how long either model will likely be used. If saving $15 is a major benefit, forgo one bag of specialty coffee so that you can save up for whichever brewer will serve you best.
The Hario V60 is technically available in more sizes than the Kalita Wave, but again the importance of this difference is fairly negligible.
The Kalita Wave 155 brews 1-2 cups, and the Kalita Wave 185 brews 3-4 cups. These are approximately equivalent to the Hario V60 01 (1-2 cups) and the Hario V60 02 (1-4 cups). Hario also has a V60 03 that can brew up to six cups. (“Cup” here refers to a 6-ounce cup of coffee. Presume 2 cups equals 1 good-sized mug.)
Most home baristas don’t specifically have to brew 3 cups of coffee regularly. They might need to brew much more when entertaining, but a different Chemex or automatic drip brewer should be used for those occasions. Either the V60’s or the Wave’s size is suitable for most daily home coffee brewing.
Filter Differences: Kalita Waves Require Special Filters
Both Hario and Kalita have their own brand-name filters. Whether you need to use the name-brand filters depends on your chosen model.
Hario’s filters have generally been considered good-quality paper filters for pour-overs. The company’s reputation has suffered in recent years, however, as many baristas have commented online that the filters don’t seem to be what they once were. The filters also can leave a distinctly papery taste if they’re not completely rinsed before brewing.
If you don’t like Hario’s filters and/or find a better option, many other companies make paper filters for manual pour-overs. You’ll have no issue finding other filters that work well.
Kalita’s filters have a unique wavy pattern of ridges that fit the contours of the Wave’s sides. This means that the filters can’t easily be substituted with another company’s filters, as other companies don’t use a wavy pattern. You also need to be careful when storing Kalita’s filters so that they don’t lose their wavy pattern.
You can certainly use non-wavy filters on the Kalita Wave. The overall quality will suffer, however, because the water won’t flow down the sides in the same way. Extraction will be less even, and your timing may be thrown off.
Note on Filter Thickness: Kalita’s filters are distinctly thinner than Hario’s, but this isn’t an indication of quality. Kalita needs thinner filters because the flat bottom slows the brewing process. Hario needs thicker filters because the V-bottom creates a faster brewing process. The filter thicknesses are a way to compensate for how slowly or quickly water flows through the cone.
Kalita filters are less likely to impart papery flavors if they’re not rinsed, because they’re thinner. You should still be rinsing all manual pour-over filters, though.
Many specific brewing recipes are available for both the Hario V60 and the Kalita Wave, and you’ll undoubtedly want to experiment as you perfect your own technique. Experimenting is part of the fun of owning either manual pour-over model.
As you experiment, know that Kalita Wave recipes usually take 20-30 seconds longer than Hario V60 recipes. The Wave’s horizontal ridges and flat bottom slow the rate at which water flows, so brewing takes a bit longer. The V60’s steep sides and mostly vertical ridges allow water to flow down quite quickly.
As a byproduct of the brew time, the grind setting used for each of these should be different. A slightly coarser grind setting should be used with the Wave since the grounds are steeped for longer. A slightly finer grind should be used with the V60, because water flows through the grounds quickly. This will help ensure more equal extraction despite the differences in brew times.
These general principles will help you dial in a specific technique, and especially translate recipes between brewers if you’re experimenting with each.
Brewing Technique: Pouring Without Channeling
These differences culminate to give each model distinct advantages when it comes to actually brewing.
The Kalita Wave’s side ridges direct water evenly across the circumference of the filter, and the flat bottom and single hole cause water to stay in the grounds longer. This makes saturation more even regardless of minor variances in your pouring technique.
The mitigation in pouring variances is a double-edged sword. The brewer is more forgiving if you make minor mistakes, but it’ll also downplay any effects of refined pouring techniques. Both unintentional and intentional alterations will be downplayed.
The Hario V60’s more vertical ridges, steep walls and three holes cause water to flow much faster through the brewer. This gives you much greater control when pouring, as any variation in technique will be emphasized by the quick flow.
Greater control is beneficial if you’re practicing for that perfect pour, where you subtly change the pouring technique to highlight specific notes (e.g. the Tetsu Kasuya 4:6 method). Any mistakes that you make will likewise be emphasized, though.
Which is Better, the Hario V60 or Kalita Wave?
The differences between the Hario V60 and Kalita Wave don’t make either entirely better. Each model is better suited for specific purposes, however.
The Hario V60 is ideal for an experienced (or practicing) home barista, who has the time necessary to perfect their pouring technique. It’ll emphasize the different terroir and roast notes of beans more, and changing your technique can bring out different notes from different coffees.
The Kalita wave is preferable for a novice barista, or someone who can’t spend five minutes solely devoted to their coffee making. If you’re inexperienced or are interrupted by a toddler, this brewer will ensure you have good coffee anyway. You won’t as easily identify the most nuanced notes, but you’ll also have to actively try to ruin a cup.
Should You Get the Hario V60 or Kalita Wave?
Base your choice between the Hario V60 and Kalita Wave on your own experience and availability. Perhaps the best solution is a Kalita Wave for weekday mornings when you’re rushing, and a Hario V60 for more leisurely weekend mornings and afternoons. That way, you’d have enough to brew several cups when entertaining too.
Scott M. Brodie has over 20 years of professional experience working in coffee shops and writing about coffee (including selling superautomatic machines). When not writing, he can usually be found roasting a new African single origin or composing a fictional work.