The Able Kone 3

08.26

Less than three months after Able launched their successful Kickstarter campaign to fund a production run of its latest Kone coffee filter, their beautifully designed white boxes have begun appearing in mailboxes and Instagram feeds around the world.

The new Kone and soon to be released ceramic brewer raised $150,000 more than the initial $5000 requested for tooling and production costs. Now with over 1200 backers supporting Keith Gehrke, the founder of Able Brewing, it’s become clear that his company’s new life after Coava, will create a bright new path on its own.

The Kone is a reusable, stainless steel coffee filter originally designed to fit the Chemex coffee maker, but can really be used with any vessel that supports its size and shape. The filter uses hundreds of thousands of micro-sized holes, created using a process of photo-etched steel, to form a precise filter pattern for uniform extraction.

I prefer not to compare the Kone with Chemex paper filters, because there is little comparison in the resulting coffee. The Kone is a unique brew method that incorporates pour over techniques to produce a heavier, oil-rich brew that’s still cleaner than a French press, which many people enjoy more than paper.

I’ve used the Kone since the first version was released more than 2 years ago. It’s been great following the progression of the filter and the company as it’s been refined over the years. The third and newest version is no exception.

The most obvious changes in the new design is the black plastic ring around the edge along with a new blunted tip. My reaction to the black ring was negative at first for altering the elegant, streamlined aesthetic of previous versions (it also slightly affects how well it sits in a Chemex).

However, once I handled the new Kone, the extra rigidity added to the shape and structure by the plastic ring becomes obvious and appreciated. For the coffee shops who use the Kone all day long, the new lip will greatly improve emptying spent grounds and seemingly extend the filters overall life.

The new blunted tip not only makes the Kone safer to handle, but it eliminates the small gap found on the tip of older versions, which was a clear path for fine grounds that increase sediment in the cup. This new “cap” plays a part in catching fines and helping produce a cleaner cup overall than the previous Kones.

With even smaller holes and a new pattern that becomes more concentrated near the tip, the new Kone offers more uniform passthrough as well. More of the water makes its way to the bottom, instead of leaking dramatically through the sides of the filter.

When the first Kone came out, I thought it looked incredible and worked great. It was new and there was nothing to compare it with. Once version 2 came out, the first one suddenly looked and felt like a prototype and the quality of the brew greatly improved.

The latest version, while losing some of its elegance, looks like a retail-ready product that could be sold on the shelves of Williams-Sonoma. From the packaging to the product itself, there’s a much greater feeling of value.

Below I’ve run an experiment to illustrate the progression of the Kone and how much the sediment has been reduced with each new version.

I brewed coffee with each version of the Kone using the same parameters and technique: 40 grams of coffee to 600 grams of water, 30 second bloom followed by a slow and steady center pour, using a medium grind (5-O on a Baratza Vario-W).

After each coffee was done brewing, I poured the result through a rinsed, white V60 filter to capture the sediment. Results pictured below begin with version 1.

From my highly unscientific experiment, you can clearly see how much the sediment is reduced with each new version, but there is always some sediment. With a refined technique, it’s likely possible to minimize the sediment even more, but I don’t find the current amount distracting and have been surprised by the clarity achieved.

Overall, the new Kone is a great improvement over its predecessor. From its reinforced new structure to the increased clarity in the cup—if you were a fan of previous versions then you’ll love the latest. If you’re just now discovering the Kone or have been waiting to purchase one, this is definitely the best version so far and you’ll be happy you waited.

Able Brewing Equipment

[DCILY tip: Dry & store the Kone upright with an unused AeroPress funnel]

 

posted by on 08.26.2012, under Brew Methods, Products

Pop Chart’s Compendious Coffee Diagram

08.21

The chart masters over at Pop Chart Lab have just released an impressively comprehensive flow chart that diagrams the various elements required for all manner of coffee drinks. Including various types of grinders, brew methods, mixers, and the resulting beverages they create. The listed brew methods even include such new and notable options such as the Steampunk and Able Kone.

Overall, it’s one of the most accurate—and impressive—coffee illustations I’ve seen on the web. While obviously well researched, I noticed two glaring mistakes: the categorization of the AeroPress as an espresso maker and (most odd), connecting the “cupping” brew method to iced coffee. It may be too late for corrections, but either way, Pop Chart Lab will be printing 500 of them large scale, for wall hanging glory.

Zoom in and explore the full scale version at Pop Chart Lab

posted by on 08.21.2012, under Coffee 101, Design

Cartel Coffee & The Chemex

08.20

Since the early days of brew method videos, there’s been an impressive evolution in the quality of the videos being produced. From the academic, to the clever to the action packed—tutorial videos have become a way for coffee companies to educate consumers, market themselves and have a bit of fun in the process.

The latest addition to the brewtorial archive comes from Cartel Coffee Lab in Arizona. Using the same “Stranger Than Fiction” notations as their earlier video, their latest—also produced by Ah Dios—gives the mid-century modern Chemex a southwestern flair.

posted by on 08.20.2012, under Brew Methods, Brewtorial, Coffee 101, Misc., Videos

NPR: Coffee Is The New Wine

08.17

 
NPR ran a nice piece yesterday featuring Peter Giuliano (who recently departed from Counter Culture) and Allie Caran, who opened Artifact Coffee in Baltimore this summer, that highlights specialty coffee’s focus on coffee quality and its diverse flavors.

Increasingly, specialty roasters are working directly with coffee growers around the world to produce coffees as varied in taste as wines. And how are roasters teaching their clientele to appreciate the subtle characteristics of brews? By bringing an age-old tasting ritual once limited to coffee insiders to the coffee-sipping masses.

The writer, Allison Aubrey, visited a cupping at Artifact to learn about tasting the flavor nuances in coffee and some of the characteristics that help them develop.

Listen to the full story on NPR

posted by on 08.17.2012, under Coffee 101, Misc., Videos

Nordic Barista Cup 2012 Begins in Copenhagen

08.09

Last night, 200 of the coffee industries finest gathered together in Copenhagen, Denmark to welcome the next 3 days of inspiring speakers, cuppings, Nordic barista team competitions and enough delicious coffee to satisfy all our discerning palates.

I am on-site with my colleague Tim Styles from Workshop Coffee to capture all the action. We will be uploading videos of the speakers at the end of each day, blogging and tweeting the highlights on behalf of the Nordic Barista Cup for those who can’t be here.

Follow along at home:
Blog: Nordic Barista Cup
Flickr: Official photostream
Twitter: @NordicBaristaCu
Instagram: #NBC2012
YouTube: NBC Speaker Videos

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posted by on 08.09.2012, under Misc.