Hario and Kalita are two of the biggest names in the specialty coffee industry today. They are both Japanese companies making products related to specialty coffee brewing, such as pour-over drippers, filters, grinders, servers, etc.
Both Kalita and Hario have loyal followings all across the globe, and their products are used everywhere: home, cafes, coffee institutions, and barista championships. Suppose you ask anyone, whether it be your coffee-enthusiast friend, the internet search engine, an award-winning barista, or a coffee specialist, to suggest you the best coffee brewing equipment brand to go for. In that case, they will most likely recommend you either Kalita, Hario, or both! The coffee gurus frequently swear upon these two brands because both of them have consistently delivered outstanding quality, reliability, and, most importantly, a passion for innovating and improving their products while remaining true to their core vision and values for decades.
Trying to choose between Hario and Kalita as a brand is quite tricky. It is similar to a 'Nikon or Canon?' situation when someone is trying to buy their first camera. You know they are both great, and many people will give you their word that they can both be trusted. Still, you don't know exactly what makes each of them great, and you don't know what is it about the brands that will make them the perfect match for 'you.' This is why today we are going to compare these two companies so you can understand what each of the company stands for and their unique qualities that might personally resonate with you. Let's begin!
‘Kalita’ and ‘Hario’ – The meaning behind their names
“Kalita” comes from the combination of two words – the first part of the German word for coffee “Kaffee" and the last part of the word "Filter," referring to the paper filter used for brewing coffee using the pour-over drip method, which has been one of the most popular ways of brewing specialty coffee in Japan. There is another famous German company called "Melita” in the coffee industry, but Kalita is entirely independent and not related to Melita.
“Hario” comes from the Japanese words “Hari" and "Ou." The classical Japanese word for ‘glass’ is ‘Hari,' and 'Ou' means king in Japanese. The secret of why the name Hario, which stands for 'The King of Glass,' was chosen, will be revealed in the next section, where we briefly introduce the two companies.
Hario and Kalita – Who are they as companies? (A brief introduction)
Kalita was established in July 1959 in a town called Nihonbashi in Tokyo. At that time, it had only one factory in Kawasaki. Over the years, it has released many different kinds of coffee-brewing equipment. Today it is headquartered in Yokohama and has multiple factories and warehouses across Japan where they manufacture a wide range of coffee-brewing equipment distributed globally.
Not only is Kalita a vital contributor to the coffee industry as a manufacturer, but also as a prominent importer. Since 1989, Kalita has been bringing in coffee machines and equipment of reputable brands from overseas and selling them in Japan, for example, Bezzera (Italian), Reneka (French), Fetco (USA), HGZ (Swiss), etc.
Hario started as a manufacturer and distributor of high-quality laboratory and industrial glassware and was founded in October 1921. Since the beginning, Hario has been a great example of perseverance and innovation by persistently working on creating their original heat-proof glass and broadly expanding their products' range over the years. Today, Hario is the only heat-resistant glass manufacturer in Japan to have its own factory. On top of that, they have offices and operations all across the world on multiple continents. Hario’s range of products is awe-inspiring; it manufactures products related to coffee, tea, aromatherapy, pets, laboratory, cooking, household, etc.
*If you want to read the fascinating story behind Hario and to know more about its history, we have the perfect article where you can do so.
Now that you know about Hario and Kalita as companies, you might have a question or two about them, such as:
Hario has been around longer than Kalita. Does that mean Hario’s products are better?
Not necessarily. One interesting fact is that although Hario was founded many years before Kalita was, Hario started to branch into the field of coffee-related products only around 1948. So both of them have been in the coffee industry for a long time, and both companies have decades of experience and knowledge in the manufacturing of coffee products.
Hario’s glasses must be top-grade as it manufactures its own glasses. But what about the quality of Kalita’s glass products?
There is no question about the quality of Hario glassware. However, the quality of Kalita’s glassware is not to be doubted either. Kalita states on its official website that it uses top-notch heat-proof glass in all its glass products. Furthermore, Kalita's heat-resistant glassware is able to withstand a rapid temperature change of up to 120 degrees Celsius, which is quite impressive and more than sufficient heat-proofing for coffee brewing purposes.
The two company’s values, concepts, and vision
A vision to make specialty coffee brewing accessible to every household
Since the beginning, Kalita has been on a mission to bring the joy of specialty coffee to as many people as possible. It was not an easy task during the 1960s when the general perception was that well-brewed specialty coffee could only be enjoyed at cafes with the help of experienced professionals. Kalita came in and changed that perception over the years. By making coffee brewing equipment that can be used easily with good repeatability even at the hands of a non-professional beginner, Kalita took great coffee into households. Thanks to Kalita, people began to realize that they can enjoy café-quality great coffee even at home, brewing it with their own hands! Even today, Kalita makes products with exceptionally high user-friendliness, and their pour-over drippers are well-known for being very beginner-friendly.
Products that celebrate unique local craftsmanship from Japan
Kalita has a special series of products called ‘Made in Japan’ that features and promotes Japanese craftsmanship and traditional raw materials. Two popular products from this series are
- KIRI coffee mill featuring the craftsmanship of Kiri (paulownia wood), a tradition with more than 200 years of history from Niigata prefecture.
- HASAMI ceramic drippers, promoting the traditions from the village of Hasami, a pottery village in Nagasaki prefecture, which has been making high-quality ceramic ware for more than 400 years.
A business strategy deeply rooted in Japanese philosophy
Hario’s foundation is based on a Japanese philosophy called Shinzenbiraku (真善美楽). It combines four words that mean "cognitive truth," “ethical goodness," "aesthetic beauty," and "ease of use." So based on this, Hario strives to continuously improve and innovate their products while staying true to nature, human values, and a high-quality standard. It also entails creating designs that are beautiful to look at but also comfortable to use and will bring joy to people.
Ensuring that glassware production is safe and eco-friendly
As described below, Hario has perfected its ‘Hario Glass' after years of research to ensure that it is safe and reliable for being used even in medical fields.
The Hario glass is made with a hundred percent pure natural minerals without any contamination or air bubbles. This ensures that it will not react with heat or acid, so it will not release any chemicals that can be harmful to the environment or human health.
Another impressive feature of Hario’s glass manufacturing process is that the factories do not have any chimneys! This means that harmful pollution, dust, and smoke are not released into the atmosphere. In addition, this is done in a completely safe way for the health of the employees working inside the factories.
Comprehensive SDG (Sustainable Developmental Goals) projects and initiatives
Hario has an extensive list of SDG activities, and some of them are below.
- Women hold 1/4th of the managerial posts in Hario, which is part of their effort to create a professional environment that promotes gender equality and minimizes inequalities.
- To improve the health of the workers, smoking has been banned in Hario premises, workshops on exercise and well-being are held regularly, AEDs have been installed around the factories, and a health and safety committee has been established with the responsibility to look after the employees’ health.
- The products and manufacturing process promotes and uses local craftsmanship, resources, and culture from different parts of Japan. An example of this is the use of Arita-yaki ceramics to make the world-famous ceramic Hario V60 dripper.
Hario Vs. Kalita – A comparative look at their products in general
Hario and Kalita both feature designs that are simple, classic, and elegant. The design of their products also places a high emphasis on ease of use and maintenance.
Both Kalita and Hario have won reputable design awards. Kalita’s KEDP-600, an electric kettle, has won the 2019 Good Design Award, and Hario has been winning the Good Design Award almost every year since 2000 for one or more products. Notable among Hario’s wins are V60 dripper and V60 range server (2007), Latte Shaker (2013), V60 drip kettle AIR (2020), etc.
Both of their products offer versatility in terms of design so the user can find a product that fits their personal taste. However, Kalita seems to offer more color variations for drippers, especially in fun and pop colors.
Both Hario and Kalita have a generous offering of versatility when it comes to grinders. They both make electric and manual grinders with different sizes, mechanisms, and designs. There is one important difference here; Kalita also offers a good selection of powerful large-scale (industrial) coffee grinders. Hario only has grinders that can be used in professional settings but only for small-scale purposes. We have a useful article where you can know more about Hario grinders and choose the right one, which can be read here.
The age-long debate: Hario V60 or Kalita Wave, which is best for making pour-over coffee?
This has been the coffee world's bruning question for a long time. Hario V60 and Kalita Wave are pour-over equipment, and they are the respective iconic products from each of the brands. The only way to decide would be to read two of our articles, where you will find everything you need to know about Kalita Wave and Hario V60.
The table below sums up some of the most popular coffee equipment and whether Kalita and Hario make them or not.
When you are trying to choose between two big names like Hario and Kalita, it might seem like one is better than the other; it's a battle between two brands, and that you have to choose a side between the two. However, the more we look deeper into the companies, their business values and visions, and their products, it becomes clear that both of them are part of a bigger movement – a movement to make coffee and everything related to coffee better.
Both companies have their strengths and qualities that can personally speak to any coffee lover looking to invest in a piece of coffee equipment to improve their coffee experience. So you can rest assured that no matter which brand you are going for (or both), you are placing your trust in the right place!