The Chemex vs The Kalita Wave 185 – Kaldi's Coffee

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The Chemex vs The Kalita Wave 185 | Why We Choose Them at Our Cafes

Our coffee shops offer the full range of options to enjoy specialty coffee, but we think anyone can - and should - enjoy specialty coffee on the slower side from time to time. Pour over coffee takes the machines out of the picture and instead relies on our baristas’ skilled hands—it’s just them, a kettle, the brewer and the coffee.

The resulting cup is something truly your own.

While there are many pour over devices out there (and more coming out all the time), our preferences at our cafes have been the Chemex Coffee Maker and the Kalita Wave 185.

Kalita Wave and Chemex 6 Cup Coffee Maker

What's the difference between them and why would you choose one over the other?

Here, we’ll talk a little more about the Kalita 185 and Chemex and hopefully give you some insight into:

  • how they work
  • what makes them special
  • what kind of coffee suits them best
  • and why we choose them at our coffee shops over everything else

Let’s get brewing!


Kalita Wave 185 Coffee Brewer
Why we love it:
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to learn
  • Consistent
  • Offers a sweet, balanced brew of any coffee

The Kalita Wave 185 wasn’t the first flat bottom manual brewer, but it is one of the most recognizable and classic options in the world of pour over brewing. Featuring three small holes on the bottom, the Kalita slightly restricts the water flow leaving the brewer and is considered to be a little more forgiving and consistent as a result. The flat-bottom geometry is also known to drive up the sweetness in a coffee and provide a very balanced cup

The Kalita Wave comes in two sizes - 155 and 185 - and in three styles: stainless steel, glass, and ceramic. Our coffee shops use the 185 in stainless steel for its durability (lots of clangs and bangs in a cafe!) and for the extra size that allows for a very full mug for our guests.

The Kalita Wave 185 filter is also known for its ridges that keep it from sticking to the walls of the brewer. Although this creates a tad more work for separating them out of the package, the “crinkles” of the Kalita filter encourage airflow for a more predictable, even brew.  

The Kalita Wave works great for any kind of coffee, but we especially love it with coffees with prominent chocolate, nutty, and dried fruit notes as it really accentuates those notes. 

 Try it with: Central American Coffees (such as El Salvador), Colombian Coffee, and our flagship blend Cafe Kaldi

Chemex glass coffee maker

Why we love it:
  • A mystique matched only by the renown of the coffee it makes
  • Delivers excellent clarity
  • Highlights a coffee's acidity

The Chemex Coffee Maker is actually one of the first pour over coffee makers. It’s an art piece, a historical monument, and a fantastic coffee maker all at once, and people have been enjoying it as much for the clarity in its brews as its visual elegance for decades. There isn’t a pour over aficionado out there that isn’t instantly mesmerized by the smell of swirling freshly brewed Chemex coffee. Suffice to say, there is just something about this pour over brewer that has stood the test of time. 

The Chemex 6 cup (also comes in 3, 8, and 10) is relatively uniquely capable of making large batches of coffee. This makes it a go-to choice for those at home that are brewing for 2 or more people, and this is exactly how we use it in our cafes as well. Our standard recipe is 48 grams of coffee to 800 milliliters of water (so enough for two very full mugs), and this makes it the perfect choice for sharing with your friend or loved one as you catch up in one of our coffee shops. 

See our full Chemex Brew Guide here


The coffee from the Chemex is just as unique and renowned as the coffee maker itself. A Chemex filter is actually just a twice-folded piece of paper, and the barista or home user simply opens up the fold to create a filter that has 3 sides of paper on one side, and 1 on the other. This added thickness from the Chemex filter can draw out more oils from the brew and extend contact time creating a coffee that is crisp and clean. To use a symphony as an analogy, something like a French Press brings out the drums, while the Chemex gives you the piccolos.

Hand holding the Chemex Coffee Maker 6 Cup

Frankly, we just love having the Chemex in our cafes because it’s a Chemex. But it’s also as useful as it is beautiful, empowering our baristas to make larger batches of pour over coffee with simplicity of methodology and clean up. 

The Chemex works great for any kind of coffee, but we especially love it with coffees that have floral, citrus, or ripe fruit notes.

Try it with: Ethiopian coffee or any coffee from Africa, Gesha / Bernardina, naturally processed coffees, and our ‘Tis the Season Holiday Blend


You can't go wrong with either the Kalita or the Chemex, but each is better suited to some tasks. If you want:

  • To make larger batch sizes for 2-4 people: Chemex
  • Lighter, crisper, clearer brews: Chemex
  • Durability and portability: Kalita
  • More body, sweetness, and consistent brews: Kalita
  • Delicious coffee: Chemex and Kalita

Pouring into Kalita and Chemex

Be Your Own Barista

Can’t make it into a cafe? We have several guides for how to make the most of your pour over at home! And pour over coffee isn’t just for single origin coffee. Try it with your favorite blend and see how something familiar can morph by simply brewing it in a different way. Specialty coffee is best when it’s specialty brewed, and your palate will agree. We hope to see you soon, but until then, happy brewing! 

Shop Kalita

Shop Chemex


BREWING AT HOME GUIDE Brewing a Chemex Behind the Cafe Bar, leads to our "Brewing at Home Guide" blog


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