For as long as I’ve had my Aeropress, I’ve searched for alternative filters. The paper filters designed for the Aeropress have never tasted satisfactory to me, even with a good rinsing beforehand. I’ve cut up Chemex filters, but that’s a bit too much work on a regular basis. I explored, but never actively pursued, the elusive 5 micron polyester filter, which required too much hacking, too much cleanup and too much potential for plastic fibers floating in my cup. I have relied instead on cloth, cut from a siphon filter. I like this method for taste, but like all cloth filters, cleaning and storage requires some upkeep. Also, my unskilled filter-tailoring skills left me with a stringy edge worthy of a certain Weezer song.
Metal filters always seemed like the way to go. After all, the Aeropress claims to produce espresso. Hogwash, but putting aside the tired critique that the otherwise terrific Aeropress produces nothing like espresso, it is true the Aeropress borrows from espresso-making principles. So, presumably this device might benefit from something like a portafilter basket. There was some chatter amongst coffee folks a while back about the eventual production of metal filters for the Aeropress, but nothing came of it. When Coava’s kone emerged, my first thought went back to the Aeropress. Half of me secretly hoped those clever Coava guys never thought of the logical next step so that I could cash in instead. But sure enough, Coava figured out how to apply their stainless steel hole-etching process to Areopress-sized filters.
I had some reservations about the kone. Not so with the disk. I’m just glad that the Coava guys got to it first. I could only imagine how ineffective the Alan Alder designed Aerobie ring filter would have been. But seriously, folks, the disk is a slam dunk purchase for any committed Aeropress user. Here are the reasons you too should get a Disk, man:
- The Disk is easy to use. I’d say it’s comparable to the paper filter in ease of use. You don’t have to pre-rinse the Disk, but you do have to clean it after. You can’t just pop this filter into the trash (or compost) with your spent puck of coffee – and be careful you don’t do so by mistake! The important thing is that this filter requires no hacking and it also doesn’t require mastering new brewing techniques. Whichever of the multitude of Aeropress brew methods you prefer will still work just fine with the Disk.
- Ultimate taste. I ran a series of comparative brews, with various coffees, pitting Disk to paper and Disk to cloth. I wasn’t completely blown away by the results and the disk did not transform my coffee experience, but it is definitively better than the paper filters, offering a fuller range of flavors and aromas. I also found it roughly comparable, if not better than, my home-fabricated cloth filters. But even if comparable, the Disk is still easier to use. I did find a slight increase in fines in the cup over paper, not surprisingly, but they were very light and almost not noticeable. My best guess, but merely a shot in the dark, as to why sediment levels were lower than what I encountered with the kone is described on Barismo as cake filtration.
- About the price of CD. Just to be clear, at $15, the disk isn’t cheap. The Aeropress, itself, is only about $25. Also, the Disk isn’t a good bargain because it offers savings over paper filters. I previously argued that the kone offered little in the way of actual cost savings compared to paper filters. The Disk makes even less good on this promise. Aeropress filters are about a penny a piece ($3.50 for a package of 350). You’d have to use the Disk for 4-5 years at a cup a day to make it more economical than paper (I’m unclear on the environmental benefits here). The bottom line is that $15 is simply a manageable price point given most people’s budgets. Given that the coffee produced with it tastes better than the only commercially made paper filter means that you’re making a solid investment in the taste of your coffee for not much more than say, a compact disc (What do you call an MP3 album anyway?).
- This Disk ain’t floppy. Although the Disk is made of the same thin metal as the kone, it’s smaller size makes it sturdy. It doesn’t feel like it would bend or dent without serious effort, and you can store it in your Aeropress to protect it. Be careful, though. It is tiny. I’ve somehow already managed to misplace mine. I can’t complain too much since it was sent to me for free. Ultimately, if it doesn’t manage to reappear, I will be buying one to replace it.