July 5, 2011
Earlier this year, I reviewed the First Generation Kone from Coava Coffee Roasters out in Portland. I am a big fan of the device for certain coffees, and it certainly brings a different sort of cup to the table than other devices, as it is both a pour-over device, yielding a crisp cup, while also being metal filtered which yields a heavier body with fine particulate in the cup. As well, I’ve been a big fan of Coava, as they are one of the only coffee companies I know of whom are actively working to create brewing devices specifically for speciality coffee, rather than adopting already existing devices and adapting them to their needs (most obvious example of this is the Aeropress).
When I heard that Coava was releasing a Generation Two Kone, I was rightfully excited and couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. They generously agreed to send me another one to review and received it just over a week ago. Immediately one can tell something is different about this filter, it looks more sleek, more pleasing to the eye.
It turns out Coava has been working hard to take in everyone’s criticisms about their first generation filter and turn it into an even better product. They switched up the stainless steel from the last Kone, now it is a high quality matte finished stainless that is far more pleasing to the eye, does not smudge like the previous metal, and is more flexible. Like a spring retains its shape, this stainless is springy and returns to it’s circle shape rather than being easily bent like the last generation Kone.
As well, Coava heard out the criticism of the resulting brew lacking cleanliness and having fine particles in the cup. It turns out the first Kone’s filter hole size and distribution was optimized for the Mazzer Robur-E’s that their coffee bar uses for pour-overs. Espresso Grinders like the Robur output a distribution of particle size at two peaks, one at a slightly larger particle size, one at a slightly smaller particle size, which effectively creates a wall of resistance for the high pressure water espresso machines output to pass through. However, traditional filter grinders try to grind along a single distribution peak, so that all the particles are as consistent in size as possible, allowing for even extraction of all the pieces, leading to less resistance in a filter like the Kone, and allowing fine particles to pass through the bed as there is no “wall” of resistance created by the coffee bed against the filter.
Whereas I had pretty consistent results off my Preciso with the last Kone, I found that the brewer was not forgiving to different grind sizes. I could dial in the filter rather well with the micro adjustments on the Preciso to the point where very little fines passed through, but as soon as the coffee changed I would have to dial in again. However, the new Kone’s smaller hole size and distribution has allowed for more forgiving results. I have been able to use quite a large range of particle sizes and have had very good results thus far, even having one of the best cups in recent memory of the Kone 2 with Heart Roaster’s Kenya Gichathaini using a Guatemala Lab Grinder on a 2.5 setting, just slightly finer than a normal filter grind setting of 3.
I have found, however, that the Kone works best at a dose of 35 grams or more. This dose allows for easily arriving at the proper brew time of 3-4 minutes and gives the least amount of fines, something to do with bed cake filtration I think, but I have no way to prove this theory other than my experiences. As well, the increased turbulence from the kettle pouring from a further distance could be culprit for more fines in the cup from smaller doses. Coava is working on this problem though with the soon to be released One-Cup through the new Able company, which will be the face of all their brewing gear in the future.
Overall, I am supremely impressed with Coava’s improvements to their already fantastic Kone filter, and am looking forward to further developments in their gear as their One-Cup is released this fall. If you haven’t picked a Kone up yet, now is the time. It’s better than ever and more forgiving to the home user and coffee bar using it with a traditional coffee grinder. However, if you normally brew coffee for one person, I would hold off and purchase the One-Cup later this summer when they release it, as I have no doubt it will address the need for a smaller brewing device one can brew coffee on for just one person.