Over the last six years, the Hario V60 has become the industry standard pour-over dripper. In some circles, “V60” is practically a synonym for pour-over coffee. The Japanese-made cone dripper, complete with custom paper filters, is a highly functional and yet aesthetically pleasing piece of coffee design. Spiral ridges help ensure extraction along the sides of the coffee bed (in contrast to a Chemex), and face it, they just look sexy. The 01 is perfect for brewing straight into a 10 oz mug, while the 02 can make more than enough to share (upwards of 1 liter).
The New Wave
Recently, however, Hario’s stranglehold on the by-the-cup coffee market has been challenged by another Japanese company, Kalita. Their dripper, the Kalita Wave, has surged in popularity, particularly among the coffee cognoscenti. Erin McCarthy used a Kalita Wave to win the 2013 US Brewers Cup. Legendary Danish roasters The Coffee Collective recently switched to Waves in their three Copenhagen cafes. The dripper even snagged it’s own article in the New York Times magazine.
The Wave features a flat bed, which is supposed to extract more evenly than the V60’s conical shape. Three small holes in the bed of the Wave control the flow rate, which means there’s less room for user error. This also allows for longer dwell times, which lends itself to more complexity in the cup. Sure, the stainless steel model looks a little chintzy, but it has better heat retention than the ceramic V60. (Glass models, however, are available for both drippers.)
Hario V60 vs Kalita Wave: The Pros and Cons
So which one is better? That question can only be answered by turning to the world of hi-def brew videos. In defense of the V60 we have a video from former World Brewer’s Cup Champion, Matt Perger. Perger, who is two-time Australian barista champ to boot, employs a radical pulse-brew method that disregards conventional techniques and ratios. The video also features a banging sound track and some classic Antipodean wit. His method is tricky to master, but yields some delicious results when properly executed.
Conversely, the best video we’ve seen for the Wave is by Nick Cho, who is the man responsible for importing the dripper to the States in the first place. What it lacks in soundtrack or humor it makes up for in mind-blowing extraction theory. Watch and learn.
And the Winner Is…
So where does the Coffee Compass land? Call it a cop-out, but we’re on the fence. We’ve had too many great coffees from both brew methods to rule either out. The consistency of the Wave lends itself to busy cafe environments as well as to novice home brewers. The transparency of the V60 means that it will always have a place in on hearts and on our carafes. Any coffee nerd would do well to have both (along with a good kettle) in their arsenal.