1. So Far, So Fine: Able’s DISK In Review

    It’s been a bit over a year since I got my first Aeropress, and a few months more than that since I got my first DISK filter. I purchased a 010 model DISK for my Bialetti moka pot, back when Coava was still the company behind the helm of the DISK and Kone filters. These days, the DISK is made by Able Brewing, a spin-off of Coava, and the DISK is a-changing with time. This brings me to the subject of this review: the new, unreleased soon-to-be-released, DISK Fine.

    Prima Coffee DISK Fine

    Image via Prima Coffee. More images to come, my last batch was awful.

    I mentioned my Aeropress history to underscore the fact that, by now, I’m quite familiar with my 010 DISK, having used it nearly every day for over a year - about 500 brews or so. That DISK iteration has the largest holes, it’s thicker, and it brews a damn fine cup of coffee. The brews are a bit body-heavy, with some sediment in the bottom of the cup, but the richness in flavor and dead simple brewing more than make up for that. When Prima Coffee let the Twitterverse volunteer to help test the DISK Fine, I knew I had to sign up, not only for the curiosity to see what Able had been cookin’, but to weigh in as a frequent and experienced DISKer. As luck would have it, I was indeed selected to be a tester!

    The first thing I did upon receiving the DISK Fine was to compare it to my beloved 010. The Fine is noticeably thinner - almost papery in comparison to the 010. It flexes, and likely bends (I don’t have the guts to try that!), quite easily, almost feeling flimsy. The holes are innumerable, and quite small, and certainly don’t appear quite as conical to the naked eye.

    The DISK, like its big ol’ brother, the Kone filter for Chemex, is made from photochemically etched stainless steel. What that means exactly is, well, a mystery to me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it involved a shallow chemical bath and lasers. The result, in the case of either filter, is a definite precision feel, making the cost to buy in feel more worthwhile. This was the reason I first fell in love with my DISK 010 - it was obviously well-engineered, and despite not having brewed coffee with it, I knew it was a good purchase.

    The Fine threw me though, as that flimsy quality seemed distinctly not like the DISK I knew. Still, looking at the size and count of the filter holes, I guessed that it was a factor of manufacturing, a design choice I would probably understand if I were an engineer or something. Besides, this was a free test unit, complimentary to me, and not something I should be too picky about so let’s just brew some damn coffee!

    Aeropress, preheated, inverted, 18 grams of coffee, 290 grams of water, ground around medium drip. Steep for 1:15, invert, remove the plunger, add the remaining water (it doesn’t all fit the first go), plunge for about :30.

    Result? Bright, biting, crisp, sour, yuck. Not what I was expecting, but I noticed quite a few key differences. The first were the obvious drips while inverting. This new filter appeared to leak much like the stock paper filters do for the Aeropress. The plunge, too, offered far less resistance than I’m used to with the 010, which I at first attributed to obviously having the wrong grind fineness (too coarse this time). But no, even with subsequent dialed in brews, the Fine acts more like a membrane than a piece of steel, allowing liquid to pass easily through into the cup. The more I brewed, and the more I compared to the 010 filter, the more I realized the Fine performs like a paper filter. So I brewed them back to back; first a paper filter brew, then a DISK Fine brew.

    The results didn’t surprise me so much as they confirmed my assumption. I used the same recipe (below), made sure to thoroughly rinse my paper filter, and weighed and time scrupulously. The paper filter brew was what I thought it would be - balanced, sweet, clean, and only slightly tangy (the remnants of a washed Ethiopian). The Fine, however, brought out all the same notes, with the addition of a chocolate undertone that was lacking with the paper. Presumably, this is the result of fines in suspension. This was arguably more balanced than the previous, as that tang - still present - was now tamed a bit by this milky chocolate. It was honestly one of my best Aeropress brews to date. Not exactly a religious experience, but I think I have a new favorite filter.

    So how can I sum this up…The DISK Fine is like a permanent paper filter for the Aeropress, in the sense that it brews much like a paper filter does, with none of the setup time and pre-rinsing, with the added faculty of increased body and low notes. Try a finer grind and a lower dose, and stirring helps. Also, be careful when cleaning the DISK Fine, as it bends easily, and unless Able chooses a thicker material (they might, it’s been mentioned on Twitter that the thin material wasn’t exactly desirable), you run the risk of creasing it if you scrub/rub too hard.

    The Able Brewing DISK Fine should be available this summer, for about $12.50. If you Aeropress, it’s worth it!

    Brewing with the DISK Fine:

    17g coffee, ground finer than drip (moka pot)

    250g water at ~205 F

    Inverted brew

    Preheat the Aeropress with water just off the boil. Drain and add grounds.

    Add about half the water, stir once and bloom for 45 seconds. Add rest of water, steep one minute. Add filter, screw on cap, flip onto a mug, and let sit for another 15-20 seconds, before pressing within 40 seconds. Total brew time is about 2:40.

    UPDATE: Keith from Able let me know via Twitter that the retail DISK Fine will still be thin - a constraint that allows for the smaller holes. He also said there will be photos and video of the magical (probably not laser) etching process on the site. So be sure to check out Able Brewing’s page in the coming months!


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