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Coava KONE 2: Review
Since the original publication of this review, Able has released a 3rd Generation Kone. While there have been great improvements between the 2nd and 3rd generation, we believe the parameters discussed in the Kone 2 review still hold true on the 3rd generation and have decided to leave this review up for your aid! In addition, the Kone is now produced solely by Able Brewing.
The good folks at Coava are keeping busy. Coava Coffee Roasters is a shop and micro-roastery located in Portland, Oregon who have, over the last year, started producing some very innovative new brewing devices for specialty coffee. Last year, they introduced the Kone, a metal filter designed for pour over brewing in a Chemex. The responses were great, as reviewers highlighted the benefits of the Kone being reusable, made fully in the United States, and that it allowed more oils than paper filters, allowing for a more nuanced cup. I received the new generation Kone a little over a week ago, and was able to spend time brewing on it over the past several days.
For a frame of reference, my grinder was the Preciso, my pouring kettle was the Buono with the flow restrictor from Barismo, and I stuck to a beginning-of-the-pour water temperature of 199 degrees for each brew to limit at least one variable. For those who might be curious, I used Quills Coffee's Nicaragua Taza de Sabor and Barismo's Costa Rica Don Mayo, Finca El Llano, both very delicious washed Central American coffees.
Experimenting with Methods
As an owner of the first generation Kone, it became apparent that to get the best results one needed to grind finer than for a normal Chemex, generally finer than for a V60, and focus the pour primarily to the center of the filter with a low pour rate. This would produce the cleanest cup and most even extraction, a delicious cup with practice, but without much room for variation and a fine line between over-extraction. What excites me most about the second generation Kone is that the new hole design allows for a bit more experimentation with brewing parameters and pouring styles. I brewed several different batches, but will limit my review to three representative experiences.
For the first, I used a dose of 30g to 476g of water at a grind setting comparable to what I would use for a V60 01, a 12 on my Preciso. I poured 50g of water for a 50s pre-infusion, with a total brew time of 3:10. This cup ended up tasting slightly over-extracted and sour, and at this grind setting a 2:30 brew time proved more successful. In my second brew, I wanted to use a grind setting comparable to either a V60 02 or a smaller Chemex batch combined with a slower pour. The setting on the Preciso was a 22, and I dosed a bit higher at 33g to 500g of water. I poured 35g for a 45s pre-infusion, with a total brew time of 3:30. The pouring method was more similar to how I would pour for a paper Chemex, avoiding hitting the wall but not being afraid of pouring in a circular fashion over the fines. The resulting cup was much sweeter, and if anything may have been a tad under-extracted. Much to my enjoyment, even with a coarser setting and different pouring method there were no more fines in the brew from a coarser grind setting. Again, this hole design brings versatility for a huge improvement. Finally, for the last brew I tuned the grind setting back to 20. This time, I went with 33g to 515g of water, a 30g pre-infusion at 45s, and total brew time of 3:30. I poured in circles for the first 1/3 of the volume, and then for the last 2/3 I poured at a steady rate at the center, keeping the water level up. This brew was fantastic, not over-extracted at the least, carrying the sweetness of the previous cup, but with a few more nuances and subtle notes missed from the previous brew.
On the Coava blog, four complaints were listed concerning the first Kone which the second generation Kone sought to address. The first was the complaint that the Kone was "tricky to use". As discussed above, the newer Kone design allows for a broader range of grind settings and pouring styles, allowing the barista to adjust parameters for a clean cup that best suits the coffee being used. The second complaint given was that the first Kone was fragile and easily bent if not handled delicately. I can attest that I washed the new Kone 10-15 times, and was not particularly delicate with it, and it held strongly to original form. Very nice improvement, especially for shop owners considering using the Kone on a brew bar. A third complaint was that the top edge of the first Kone was too sharp, giving a paper cut the user. A fully removable custom silicone ring is in the works and will be released soon which will help protect the KONE from damage while eliminating cuts. And last, the complaint about cost. As stated by Coava, the cost of the new Kone will not be reduced, but we should be glad that the price is not going up with all the improvements! And the Kone is made fully in the United States with high quality stainless steel. As the etching in the new Kone reads: MADE IN USA | designed in portland, steel from ohio, etched and welded in connecticut. Pretty cool, and remember, it's manufactured to last a very long time, produce no paper waste, and tastes awesome. The new Kone is an excellent addition to quality home and shop brewing, and I look forward to what the future brings from Able Brewing!
Recommended starting parameters:
33 grams of coffee - medium grind
500 milliliters of water
3:30 brew time