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Airscape Maker Planetary Design Revives the Flask Brewer

ethoz FLASK 1 – Courtesy of Planetary Design

Coming Dec. 10, the Flask brewer with be the first product from Planetary Design’s new Ethoz brand. All images courtesy of Planetary Design.

The innovative Flask coffee brewer has been rescued from development purgatory, finding a new home with Planetary Design‘s new Ethoz brand for an official launch next month.

The Flask was originally developed as the first home brewing device by Brooklyn, New York-based Alpha Dominche, the maker of the Steampunk brewing system. Alpha Dominche revealed the device in December 2017 before attracting more than $230,000 in crowdfunding pledges for its production.

In April of 2018, the brewer also turned heads at the Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle, including that of Jess Nepstad, CEO of Montana-based coffee and tea brewing and storage equipment maker Planetary Design.

Flask brewer collar

“Walking through the trade show, I walk by the Alpha Dominche booth and I saw the Flask, and I said to myself, ‘Wow. If Planetary Design was going to ever design or create an indoor, home-use French press, that would be the product that I would want, that I would hope that we would have developed,” Nepstad told Daily Coffee News. “I spent many minutes sitting there visiting with the group from Alpha Dominche, complimenting them on the design and telling them how much I appreciated it.”

Alpha Dominche unceremoniously ceased all operations at the end of 2018, leaving the Flask and other designs to gather dust. Nepstad took the news of AD’s demise as a call to action. Through various channels, Nepstad said he was able to communicate with Tymer Tilton, Alpha Dominche’s principal designer and a fellow Montanan, as well as the defunct company’s investors, eventually reaching a purchase agreement at the end of last year.

Flask coffee brewer

“Then we started uncovering all of the skeletons in the closet, if you will, and we found that the molds were not finished and certain design elements hadn’t been completed,” said Nepstad. “So we took over the project, kind of like taking over somebody’s midterm paper right at the end.”

The Flask immersion brewer involves a deceptively simple two-chamber design. For a batch of 17 ounces of finished brew, the coffee and water steep together in the inner chamber until the plunger is inserted, driving the liquid down through a metal mesh filter and then through a one-way valve and into the outer chamber, from which it can be poured from any direction around its rim.

Additional paper filters are also included for users seeking a cleaner, lighter-bodied cup. The inner chamber slides out and its bottom is removable for easily pushing out the spent grounds with the plunger.

ethoz FLASK box – Courtesy of Planetary Design

Both chambers are made from clear borosilicate glass. The plunger is composed of milled stainless steel with a rubber gasket, and the device wears a branded leather cuff around its neck for grip and aesthetic appeal.

Said Nepstad, “It looks like it was designed and developed in Montana, and that’s why I loved it so much.”

With some final tweaks and refinements completed, and the original factory partner still on board, Planetary Design is now ready to launch the Flask as the inaugural product of its new Ethoz sub-brand (styled by the company as ethoz), which will feature glass coffee and tea products.

In the Planetary Design family of brands, Ethoz joins Airscape, a line of coffee and kitchen storage containers with a patented inner lid that forces air out and away from its contents, and BruTrek, an outdoors-oriented line of rugged brewers and vessels.

The retail price for the Flask will be $100. An accompanying set of two dual-wall glass coffee cups will also be available for $12. Sales of the Flask are slated to launch online on Thursday, Dec. 10.



Jerry R

@Howard Bryman – Why didn’t you ask Jeff Nepstad if he plans to offer a special deal for the Kickstarter backers who lost so much money on this device? Crowdfunding has a long history of projects that went bust to be taken over by a new entity who then offers a deal to prior backers (ie, ZPM -> Decent). Airscape clearly benefited from the misfortune of Flask backers. Unless Airscape wants a bunch of negative PR for being perceived to be part of stiffing Flask backers they should come up with a program that helps to make things right. In the process they would get an instant installed base of users, people who are likely to become repeat customers of subsequently introduced products, and innumerable positive Amazon reviews to launch the product.


Looks like a great product, but it would be nice if they offered a “vegan” version without the leather.

Jess Nepstad

Hi Folks,

This is Jess from the interview. We are very excited to bring the Flask product to the market. This is a beautiful product that produces a wonderful clean brew.

Regarding comments above from Jason & Jerry –

We knew there would be backers upset about their financial loss of backing a company that was unable to bring the Flask product to fruition. The path to get a product to market is VERY hard and many companies and ideas never get to the finish line. Not to mention trying to manufacture anything during a world wide pandemic.

It was 2 years ago the company behind Flask announced they were suddenly closing their doors. I do not want to speak badly of this company, so I will let you all read between the lines.

My question – why did it take Planetary Design two years to bring the product to market?

The straight answer is the factory had not been paid for molds or development work for the Flask, unpaid consultants, packaging incomplete, only one factory prototype existed and it did not work along with a complete lack of trust for anyone taking over the project.

FACT – there was no bank account full of kickstarter funds ready to purchase inventory or pay for project work – in fact, not a single penny in any account and over $100,000 of debts.

We took over the project anyway, got busy and we do what we do – get projects to market. The complexity of the project was taxing in both time and money. We didn’t ask any consumers for additional funding. So after 2 years of time we brought the Flask to market. We hope this product will be wonderfully successful and eventually, we do get a return on our investment.

If we had not stepped in, the Flask would not exist and Kickstarters would have nothing. We feel bad that the company you invested in at the beginning did not deliver. There are risks with all investments as we all know. It stinks.

We don’t get the list of the Kickstarter names either – there is no connection between what monies were raised and Planetary Design.

Planetary Design is offering a discount for all kickstarter backers.

We are not obligated by law or by Kickstarter rules… but we are good folks at Planetary Design. We are ethical. We are business people. Whether you think the discount is adequate, that is your opinion.

I have been very transparent and if you need further explanation – you can reach me thru our Planetary Design website.

Thanks for the opportunity to explain in further detail the history of this project.

And I do like the Vegan idea above too.. We will see what we can do. My wife and kiddos are Vegans, so I should have thought of that option.

Cheers, Jess Nepstad

Mike Lamson

I don’t see anything of a discount. Just going to general website.

You can understand my skepticism in your transparency when your link isn’t what you said it was.

Jerry Rubin

I would never support this unethical company – they benefitted from Kickstarter backer’s funds then totally stiffed them. I used to buy lots of Planetary Designs products but never again. The fact that there was unfinished design work is irrelevant – besides, Planetary Designs should have done more due diligence. They could have figured out a way to bring Kickstarter backers on board as supporters of their brand – instead Planetary Designs has managed to alienate hundreds of people who will now blackball them.

Jason Kruse

Same. I got stiffed on the Kickstarter and then a very, very minor discount from Planetary that would’ve still made the price (with what I’d already put down on the campaign) far more. Figured I’d just take the $50 hit and move on.

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