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]
I’ve been a big fan of the Kone filter for Chemex and the Disk filter for AeroPress since I first started using them almost two years ago. From reducing waste, to highlighting certain elements of a coffee that may not make it through paper filters, the Kone and Disk are both used frequently in my brewing rotation. So I’m thrilled to share the latest progression of filters and brewing devices from DCILY sponsor, Able Brewing.
After Able Brewing amicably parted ways with Coava Coffee earlier this year to focus solely on brewing equipment, Keith Gehrke has officially reintroduced the new company. Today, Keith launched an elegant new website (designed by Jolby) while also unveiling the latest (and possibly last) version of the Kone with its beautiful new porcelain companion—a coffee brewing system designed specifically for the filter.
KONE Brewing System:
We really wanted a way to showcase the KONE’s unique coffee. So we teamed up with a local ceramic studio here in Portland with the goal of producing a manual brewer that is as versatile as possible, a joy to use and a centerpiece in your home. The brewer beautifully houses the KONE and after the coffee is done dripping, the filter support can be removed and replaced by an elegant lid. Up to 32 ounces of Coffee can be served directly from the kettle. While designing the brewer, we also realized that with the KONE resting inside the kettle you could steep a full pot of tea.
Initial orders for the new products are being taken though Kickstarter to help offset the tooling and production costs of the first run (made in the USA). In less than 2 hours, the Kickstarter campaign surpassed the initial $5000 goal, so there’s no doubt this will happen. But if you have any interest, you can take advantage of the significant savings opportunity by pre-ordering yours in the next month.
Congrats to Keith on what will likely be another beloved coffee brewing device.
Able Brewing & Kickstarter Pre-Order
I want to start the new year by celebrating a coffee company that everyone should be watching in 2011—especially if you missed what they’ve been up to in 2010. Coava Coffee (pronounced “ko-vuh”), is a small company in Portland Oregon that’s already made big news in the coffee world and aren’t slowing down anytime soon.
Matt Higgins began Coava in 2009 and just a year ago, in January 2010, he was joined by best friend Keith Gehrke. In the last year, the duo have opened one of the most beautiful coffee bars I’ve ever seen, had over 25 coffees rated 90+ on Coffee Review, developed a stainless steel Chemex filter called the Kone, followed by its cousin—the Disk— for the AeroPress.
On January 1, Coava leaked photos of the latest gem to emerge from their lab—the Kone Funnel—a full immersion glass brewer that looks like part clever coffee dripper, part homemade beer-bong, and part chemistry lab. This latest creation uses a Kone filter inside of a glass funnel that’s equipped with a stopper. The stopper will allow a controlled release of coffee ranging from 10 seconds to 3 minutes depending on the brew variables. The official launch date is January 18th at the La Marzocco Out of the Box event, so expect a follow-up with more details in the future.
I visited Coava in November and got to experience the passion these guys have for coffee first hand. Though Keith was busy, I met Matt, who treated me to a nice shot of their Costa Rican Helsar and soon began talking more like an engineer than a barista, as he explained a bit about the process behind the Kone.
It was immediately discernible that Matt loved what he’s doing—so much that he’s even begun growing coffee in his basement to learn more about the process and hone his green coffee buying skills. Now that’s dedication.
The simplicity of Coava’s space is complimented by the finesse of the craft that went into building it out. The counter is generous and low, allowing a nice view of their single origin offerings as they’re brewed with a Chemex and Kone. A restored Probat sits just past the end of the counter, offering a public view of the roasting process and seating spreads throughout a large showroom shared with a Bamboo fabrication studio. Old drill presses and prototype furniture double as tables and industrial decoration, making the space feel raw but functional. If I could call any local cafe my own, this would be it.
Check out Coava and keep an eye on them as they continue contributing great things to the coffee industry this year.
UPDATE: As a part of the continuing Year of the Coava coverage I wanted to announce that representatives from Coava Coffee, Sam Purvis and Devin Chapman, have just swept the Northwest Regional Barista Competition and Brewers Cup, respectively. They will both move on to the United States Barista Championship this April in Houston. Congrats on the win! Read an interview with Sam Purvis on Willamette Week.
[photos by Jelani Memory via Coava]