Able Brewing Company has created a great metal filter for the Aerobie Aeropress as a substitute for the standard paper filter. Designed specifically for use with the Aeropress, it is both an aesthetically attractive and eco-friendly solution to wasting paper filters every day, something I feel somewhat guilty about. To save you the trouble of misinformation, please use the following links to get an in-depth look at the technical aspects of the disk. Of course, to support Able Brewing and its excellent line of products, here is the official page where you can purchase it if you so desire. This article has been a long time in the making. Since I got my hands on this early model, there have been some new editions to the product line up and changes to the design, such as options for gradient sizes.
At its most fundamental, the Able Disk is wonderful because it saves paper. I will admit, much to the horror of my barista friends, I do not change the to a new paper filter for every cup of coffee, or even several. If I am making a few in one session, I will generally keep the same filter throughout the day. I wash the paper thoroughly after each use and simply replace it in the press. I just can’t bring myself to getting rid of what I feel are still 95% usable filters, it just feels excessive and wasteful. With a Hario or a Chemex, it would be very difficult to save these filters since they rely heavily on shape, rigidity, and cleanliness to pour exceptional cups. Plus, cleaning them would be extremely difficult without tearing the paper. Aeropress filters, on the other hand, are relatively small and remain unsaturated after just one use. In fact, the filter usually falls off, clean save a few grounds, when I open up the press for cleaning anyway, so why not save it? I am probably just kidding myself, but that is how I do it. The Able Disk completely eliminates my little moral dilemma because it is completely reusable. It is easy to clean, store, and maintain, keep it in the press and you won’t lose it, and you won’t have to think about wasting. Conscience cleared… but what about taste?
For better or for worse, there seems to be a difference in taste between the two filters. This is more likely the “make or break” factor for most consumers. While being environmentally friendly may be a motivation for some, it’s effect on taste will definitely deter some. But is it better? Hard to say. What is clear is that using the Able Brewing Disk does change the flavor.
To test the difference, over the course of a week, some colleagues and I took two separate Aeorpresses, one with a paper filter and one with the metal disk, and used them regularly both in the shop and at home , using the same coffees, and periodically tasting and those served if they noticed a difference and if so, which they preferred. Results were mixed; some said they could not tell the difference, others were very satisfied with the results of both, but most preferred one over the other for various reasons. At our private home cupping, results were more or less even.
For me personally, I noticed that coffee from the metal filter feels slightly thinner than the standard paper , but the difference is so minute it wouldn’t bother me to be served either. Since it solves my moral dilemma, I am happy to use the Able Brewing Disk. With some of the heavier bodied South American and Island coffees we tried, some indicated that the “thinner” sensation was much more pronounced compared to lighter, fruitier coffees and Africans. In fact, with lighter bodied coffees, the consensus indicated there was no discernible difference.
So, what’s the final verdict? I think that the Aeropress is an excellent choice for the eco-conscious coffee enthusiast and commercial settings. While aficionados may be dissatisfied with the resulting changes in flavor, I think most home consumers will be quite satisfied. I also think this product would do very well in a commercial setting since it is so practical; you never have to worry about running out of filters, cleaning is a breeze, and you will get consistent results without constantly wasting paper. Please enjoy!