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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Expert Lessons

How to Brew Coffee with a Kalita Wave

How to Brew Coffee with a Kalita Wave

Counter Culture, the obsessed-over Durham, NC coffee roaster whose beans are used in over 150 shops and restaurants in NYC alone (like Abraço, Smith Cantine, Charlie Bird and Maysville), opened its new training center in Nolita this month. Pros and enthusiastic amatueurs can take classes or attend public cuppings every Friday morning at the sunny state-of-the-art facility, which is outfitted with Modbar espresso systems (whose controls are located under the counter, so baristas aren't stuck behind bulky machines) and every immersion and drip brewing device imaginable, including the currently-trending Kalita Wave. Because of its flat bottom, some experts say the sleek Japanese device produces a more evenly-extracted, cleaner-tasting cup of coffee than a traditional cone-shaped brewer. Here, staff instructor Erin McCarthy offers his tips for the dripper, which he used to win the World Brewers Cup Championship in Australia this past May.

Don't rinse the filter. Because the Wave's filters are so thin, McCarthy says they won't impart a papery taste to coffee if you skip the standard pre-brewing rinse.

Dial in the perfect grind. The Wave's design allows water to drain slightly faster than a Chemex (whose thick filter slows the brewing time) but slower than a Melitta or Hario V60. This means your grind should be in between—finer than Chemex, coarser than other standard drip methods. If your coffee brews in 3 to 4 minutes, your grind is probably about right. (If it brews faster, try a finer ground; if it's slower, go a little coarser.) An ideal amount of coffee for the larger "185" size Kalita Wave is 30 grams, weighed on a scale.

Pulse your pouring. Heat 500 grams of water until it’s almost boiling and slowly pour twice the weight of the coffee (60 grams) over the grounds in a circular motion, which will agitate the coffee and let it "de-gas" (bubble up as it expels carbon dioxide). After about thirty seconds, pour more hot water in the filter until it reaches about an inch from the top. Let it fall an inch, then fill it back up to the line. Continue to do this until you’ve finished pouring the water.

Skip the stirring. Agitating the grounds with a spoon can be useful when brewing with a conical dripper, since the mixing motion can help evenly extract solids from grounds distributed in an uneven shape. But the grounds sit more evenly on the Wave's flat bottom, so stirring is unnecessary.

Related: F&W's Guide to How to Make Coffee
America's Best Coffee Bars
Crimes Against Coffee

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