Kalita Wave Champions

For many victorious Brewers Cup baristas, the weapon of choice at these eminent coffee competitions is the Kalita Wave. The three champions we profiled respectively had unique winning recipes, each with special focuses ranging from water temperature to grind. The Kalita Wave’s flat bottom and three drip-holes eliminate the channeling of water in the brew bed; the dripper’s minimal contact with the filter produces temperature consistency –necessary qualities for precise (and award-winning) techniques. Let’s dive into the champs and their recipes.

James McCarthy, Best in the World

After clinching the top spot at the US Brewers Cup, James McCarthy brewed his way to global victory at the 2013 World Cup, Kalita Wave in hand. McCarthy is a technician at Counter Culture Coffee, a specialty coffee roaster in New York City; naturally, his deal-closing recipe that year used a Counter Culture roast, the Esmeralda Lino Lot. The Peterson family, famed for their sustainable practices at their Panama farm, Hacienda La Esmeralda, produces the floral Geisha bean used in this roast.

By 2013, the champ’s road to the World Brewer’s Cup was a ten-year journey that began at a Gimme! Coffee in Ithaca, New York. After Gimme!, McCarthy transitioned into the roasting world at the Athens, Georgia coffee roaster, 1000 Faces. In 2009, he moved to New York City and soon joined the Counter Culture Coffee team.

McCarthy’s Technique:

James McCarthy’s winning technique focused on specifically extracting the Lino Lot’s floral sweetness, and bypassing the bitterness, through the use of flow-restricted kettles. McCarthy used two kettles at a time to sustain a column of water over the sifted grounds for absorption. This way, he was able to reduce disturbance in the coffee bed thus avoiding over-extraction, the embitterment culprit. See if you can emulate the world champ’s winning recipe!

James McCarthy’s Recipe:

You will need:

  • The Kalita Wave
  • 380 ml of freshly boiled water
  • 24 grams of Counter Culture’s Esmeralda Lino Lot, coarsely ground, with the fines sifted 
  • One regular kettle
  • Two flow-restricted kettles

You will brew for three minutes and thirty seconds.

For the first half of the brewing, you will use the high-flow kettle. 

The bloom, or the part of the brewing process when the water’s contact with the coffee causes gases to leave the grinds, will take 45 seconds. With the grinds rising during the bloom, CO2 leaves the coffee and the flavor extraction commences.

In the second half of the brewing, you will use the flow-restricted kettles two at a time, as McCarthy did, maintaining a column of water above the grounds

And there you have it. With the Kalita Wave, you can have James McCarthy’s world’s best brew. If you’re entertaining friends while making this special coffee and want to display some showmanship, feel free to use a decorative tray. At the Brewer’s World Cup, McCarthy used a custom hand-built wooden tray.

Dylan Siemans, Coffee Scientist

Coffee is king in Seattle, and at the 2017 US Brewer’s Cup, so was Dylan Siemans. The 2017 winner traveled to the Emerald City from Northwest Arkansas, where he is on the Onyx Coffee Lab team, to nab the top spot. His craft focuses on experimentation and variation, matching up different water temperatures with different grinds, of different coarseness and so on.

Siemen’s Technique:

For the 2017 competition, Siemens executed a pour-over recipe using a Kalita Wave, with a special focus on how precise temperatures can bring out intended flavors from specific ingredients. 

Yet ever scientific, Siemens used every available lever to dial and drive flavor. 

His coffee of choice was lactic fermented Columbian coffee beans. These beans sat in a cold-water tank impervious to oxygen, where over the course of 80 hours, lactic acid is formed within the tank. The process results in a creamier feel and an acidity almost like a fine wine. 

The beans were ground with a burr grinder. Burr grinders use more exact equipment to slowly crumble the beans into more even and exact pieces than a typical blade grinder can do. If the grounds are too coarse, there are less flavor compounds available which results in a less concentrated cup. Siemens also used re-mineralized water from Third Wave Water for a lively and steady flavor.

The special attention on the brew bed’s temperature is based on Siemens’ expert knowledge that this temperature is associated with degree of extraction, which affects the outcome of the coffee’s flavor. Essentially, Siemens uses temperature to steer the flavor groundwork laid by his water and grounds combination.

And of course, the Kalita Wave played an important role, as its flat-bottom filter helped with even extraction.

Dylan Sieman’s Recipe:

You will need:

  • The Kalita Wave
  • 25 grams of lactic fermented coffee beans
  • One packet of third wave water, added to one gallon of distilled water
  • Burr grinder (Siemens used a Malkhonig EK-43)
  • Cremaware cup
  • Timer

You will first grind your 25 grams of coffee beans on setting #6 (medium-fine). Siemens then placed the Cremaware cup on a scale and calibrated it. As preciseness is key, it must register as 0 grams with the mug on it. 

You will then preheat the ceramic dripper simply by running water, at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, through the dripper. Next, you will heat the water to exactly 202 degrees with the Kalita Wave Kettle.

At this point, you are ready to start pouring. Start your timer. You will make five distinct pours at specific points of the two and a half minute process. 

At 00:00 minutes, pour 70 grams of water and stir the coffee three times. The temperature of the coffee bed will be at 176 degrees.

At 00:40 minutes, pour another 110 grams of water. The coffee bed temperature will be at 186 degrees.

At one minute, add another 70 grams of water. The bed will be at 188 degrees.

At 01:15 minutes, pour another 70 grams of water.

Pour the last 40 grams of water at 1:45 minutes. The coffee bed is now 186 degrees.

Let the water drain for 45 seconds, until the timer hits 2:30.

Siemens’ science experiment is best enjoyed hot and immediately!

Todd Goldsworthy, Adding a Human Touch

Todd Goldsworthy’s 2014 US Brewer’s Cup victory was the earned pay-off for a cinematic and personal journey. In fact, he prior competed at the 2013 regionals and came out at last place. This human component, however, is what makes Goldsworthy’s story and recipe special.

Goldsworthy is a brewer at Klatch Coffee in Los Angeles. His bean of choice, like James McCarthy’s, is a naturally processed Geisha from the Peterson family’s Hacienda La Esmeralda farm in Boquete, Panama.

Having a positive and direct working relationship with the Petersons, Goldsworthy actually visited Hacienda La Esmeralda. He juiced the Petersons’ coffees, and the Petersons gave Goldsworthy an education that allowed him to closely understand the Geisha bean.

Of course, the 2014 champ shared this personal touch component at the competition. He shared stories and intimate information about the coffee with customers and judges, like how the Geisha trees were stressed in their youth by the area’s wind, so windbreakers were installed resulting in uncharacteristically burly trees that grew out instead of up.

Goldsworthy’s Technique:

While Goldsworthy implemented several expert techniques, it’s the human element of his general approach that makes him stand out. In addition to visiting the Petersons, he’s also visited the Elida Estate, run by Wilford Lamastus who has been providing Klatch with coffee for ten years. Goldsworthy considers these partners his friends.

For the competition specifically, the Petersons helped Goldsworthy with table after table of cupping and exploring multiple roast profiles so that he could pick his favorites before finally landing on his chosen coffee. When Goldsworthy returned to Los Angeles, the owner of Klatch, Mike Perry, roasted five different samples as well.

Goldsworthy tried different brewing methods for each production roast. This involved different recipes, waters, ratios, grinds and even different grinders.

While particular about the brewing devices he uses, Goldsworthy had actually never used the Kalita Wave before preparing for the competition. He has a penchant for experimenting with devices and developing go-to recipes for each. Below is his Kalita Wave recipe that won the top spot in 2014!

Todd Goldsworthy’s Recipe:

You will need:

  • The Kalita Wave
  • 28 grams of naturally-processed Geisha coffee
  • 350 ml of water
  • Grinder (Goldsworthy uses a Baratza Virtuoso grinder)
  • TDS Meter

First, you will coarsely grind the Geisha beans.

Then heat the 350 ml of water to 205 degrees Farenheit. Using the TDS Meter, make sure the TDS reading is specifically 100.

Finally, pour the water over 28 grams of coffee using the Kalita Wave.

If you want to add a human component to the process, you can perhaps wear an apron that your mother made you –that’s what Goldsworthy did!

Kalita Wave, Champion Approved

An unexpected Excalibur of sorts, the Kalita Wave’s key quality is how it simplifies the overall process without compromising precision. Its simplicity actually makes it quite an unassuming device. However, as James McCarthy, Dylan Siemans and Todd Goldsworthy showcased, the Kalita Wave’s ability to make such a concentrated cup is very literally gold.

If you’d like to learn more about the Kalita Wave, check out our review guide here: kalita-usa.com/kalita-wave-review