Portland artist develops zero-waste design for brewing coffee

Pouring has become one of the easiest and most popular ways to brew coffee. But it relies on a filter, which is usually paper. Yes, there are alternatives such as stainless steel filters and using a piece of cotton cloth.

But that wasn’t enough for Portland-based Etai Rahmil. He’s a glass artist, and he decided in 2018 that he could find something better: a reusable glass filter that did the job, but also looked good.

“There are two things I do every day, without fail: drinking coffee and making glass art,” he says. “One day we ran out of paper filters in the glassware, and the idea of ​​combining these two things came to mind. I’m an engineer at heart, so the challenge of using glass to accomplish something like making coffee in a non-traditional way was super exciting. Also, running out of paper filters in the middle of a work day is no fun, which has happened way too many times.

Rahmil started testing ideas. The first two iterations didn’t work. He not only had to be eco-friendly, but also produce coffee that he would want to drink himself. After six months of experimentation, he settled on the “inverted design”, he says. “To produce an evenly saturating, self-regulating pour with minimal agitation, we incorporated a diffuser lid that rains down coffee grounds, an important part of the brewing process. This reduces agitation, allowing the bottom cake to remain intact. »

Pure Over launched on Kickstarter with its new design in August 2020, amid the pandemic, when many people were brewing coffee at home. Although it was risky, Rahmil says the daily art of brewing a cup of coffee had become even more important in keeping his rituals alive. Turns out he was right. During the 35-day campaign, he reached 3,517% of his Kickstarter goal (he originally planned to raise around $10,000). Instead, 5,000 people supported the project, raising $351,745.

Rahmil had found a clientele for a new business and was inspired by the potential impact it could have on the environment. “We learned that it takes 1.5 million trees to make the 275 billion coffee filters produced each year, and that 25,000 filters are used and thrown away in the lifetime of the average coffee drinker. There is an opportunity for this industry to be more environmentally friendly, and we believe Pure Over can help eliminate the 750 million paper filters that are thrown away every day,” he says.

The product comes in a plastic-free delivery. He also discovered the art of shipping glass safely, using only cardboard boxes perfectly suited to his product, with the aim of minimizing packaging waste. And in addition to the filter, he designed a simple contemporary glass base that completes the look.

While it’s not a design that will appeal to all coffee lovers, it offers a zero-waste way of brewing coffee that has its benefits: just wash it in the dishwasher and repeat the process the next morning. Plus, it looks stunning on screen—-something you don’t see with other eco-friendly products; it does not compromise on its look to offer an eco-alternative. Plus, the same design could be used creatively to steep loose leaf tea, if you’re limited on the countertop.

The small company – currently a team of four – has also found a way to give back. Rahmil teaches glassblowing and art classes through Crucible, an Oakland-based nonprofit art school that strives to make the arts accessible to everyone by offering scholarships and free tuition. Rahmil says he will teach more classes in 2023 and his company Pure Over will make annual donations to the program to support it.

With a coarser grind, Pure Over produces a clean, flavorful brew and less waste. Could this be a win for coffee lovers? Very probably.

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