How Do You Brew Kona Coffee? Chemex vs. Kalita

How Do You Brew Kona Coffee? Chemex vs. Kalita

So you’ve got your favorite mug and a new book, and it’s time to experience one of the greatest joys of the Hawaii experience: delicious, premium, fresh-roasted Kona coffee. Now... how do you brew it? After all, experiencing the very best that your Kona coffee has to offer means really reliving your Hawaii experience (or maybe have one for the first time!)? 

At Honolulu Coffee, we are passionate about exemplary Kona coffee: farming it, roasting it, and brewing it. The choice of brewing is important, as even the best, most flavorful coffee can underwhelm if brewed without using the best practices. Drip coffee is excellent and easy, but when you have the time, pour overs are the best brewing technique for experiencing Kona coffee in a hands-on way.

A pour over offers full manual control of the brewing process, and we think it's the best way to get the most delicate tastes out of Kona coffee. Also, the hands-on act of brewing makes it more immersive and adds to the richness of the experience. If you tasted your first Kona coffee on your Hawaiian vacation, this is the best way to try to live it again!

Two of the most popular, affordable, and down to earth hand brewing methods are the Chemex coffee maker and the Kalita Wave 185.

THE CHEMEX

Fun and stylish, mildly challenging. Remarkable clarity.

This is the rock star of pour over devices. Classic in appearance and function, the Chemex has a mild learning curve, but more than makes up for it with the clarity and crispness of its brew. Also, the 6 and 8 cup versions make it perfect for those brewing coffee for more than one. 

Utilizing a uniquely thick paper filter, the Chemex is able to remove more of the natural oils in a coffee. This allows the “higher” notes of the coffee to be more noticeable (we like to think of the classic, full-bodied French Press as being on the opposite end of the spectrum). A Chemex brew uplifts our Kona Estate Selection, showcasing and clarifying the dark chocolate, raw honey, and notes of sweet lilikoi from this 100% pure Kona blend. 

The greater clarity and balanced acidity of a Chemex brew is also perfectly suited for even more delicate Kona coffees like the rare Kona Peaberry, with its notes of sweet spice, roasted hazelnut, raw honey, and a milk chocolate body and finish. When you’re not drinking pure Kona, the Chemex also elevates any excellent specialty coffee. We especially like it for really bringing out the smooth and sweet hazelnut flavors found in our year-round Kona Blend, but it can also really make coffees from Ethiopia and Africa shine. 

THE KALITA WAVE 185

Dependable and easy to use. Sweet and balanced.

The Kalita Wave 185 is recognizable worldwide, though sometimes overshadowed in glamor by the Chemex. The Kalita Wave 185 is the sturdy workhorse of pour over coffee, offering an easy hands-on brewing experience through innovative design of its flat-bottom dripper, the “teacup on a saucer” piece that sits atop a pitcher or glass. 

The three holes in the bottom of the Kalita Wave 185 brewer, and its flat bottom, restrict the flow of water leaving the brewer slightly, and help to enhance the sweetness of the coffee. The sloping interior of the dripper is slightly ridged, and the Kalita’s paper filters are “crinkled”, allowing some airflow and predictability in your brew. 

The Kalita Wave 185 offers an excellent brew for almost any coffee, but is particularly suited to the prominent nutty, dark chocolate, and cherry notes of the pure 100% Kona Extra Fancy. As for non-Kona blends, the Kalita Wave 185 also delivers: experience balanced cocoa and brown sugar sweetness from Makahiki, and the caramel and subtle fruit of our Lokahi

Conclusion:

The best way to brew our Kona coffee is the way that you like it. But there are many, many ways to get there, and the pour over method gives the added sense of adding your own personal touch to the process. The Chemex and Kalita Wave are two of the most tried-and-true brew methods in the world of coffee and are both more than capable of handling our world-class Kona coffee. Give them a try, and brew with aloha!

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READ NEXT:

HAND BREW BLOG: KALITA & FRENCH PRESS

A mug of coffee and a tropical plants leading to our French Press and Kalita 185 brewing blog

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