Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Merry Christmas To Us!

Happy New Year!

My New Year's resolution: I will make more of an effort to emerge from the wine-induced haze enough to blog more.

For Christmas, Foodgoat and I got each other something we've been eyeing for long time: the Bodum Santos coffee maker, which is an electric vacuum coffee maker. We first witnessed it in action at a Phoenix coffee tasting, but it always makes me think of that that great scene when Katherine Hepburn tries to make coffee for Spencer Tracy in "Woman of the Year". I thought it all looked very complicated as well, so I was sympathetic.

Too bad she didn't have the Bodum Santos. It's electronic, rather than stovetop, which takes out all the guesswork out of the process and is as easy to use as any automatic drip machine.

How does a vacuum coffee maker, aka vac pot, work? Magic!

Oh, all right.
Vapor pressure and vacuum force.

As water in the lower chamber is heated, the gas pressure rises, pushing hot water up through the tube into the higher chamber. There, the water mixes with the coffee grounds, brewing your delicious coffee. When the heat shuts off on the bottom, a vacuum is created, and pressure, instead of pushing liquid up, pulls the liquid down through the tube in a great coffee whooosh!, into the lower chamber. The grounds are kept in the upper chamber by a filter. It's hugely fun to watch the water travel from one part to the other and then back down again as coffee.

It's an old-fashioned way of brewing coffee, invented in the 1830's, and the predominant method used prior to the 1950's. But one never sees it these days, despite the fact that it makes a delicious cup of coffee (CoffeeKid has some theories on why). We got ours at Phoenix, and all of the employees there got very excited about our buying it.

With a 12 cup capacity, we can brew up a lot more coffee than with the French press, and it seems faster and more consistent. Plus, it's a delight to watch (and to hear the whooosh!). It's been has been going on the road with us to various holiday parties, along with the Aerator, to entertain other people as well, making it quite the conversation piece.

Here, watch it work yourself:

There are some down sides: it's more awkward to clean than the French press, and other reviews have complained of a short lifespan and the company's poor customer service.

But overall, it's made our morning coffee a lot more fun. And I can have whole pots of coffee instead of just the one cup that the French press made, which has been great for the long, cold Cleveland holidays.


  1. Anonymous8:14 AM

    Surprisingly, this method is super popular in Japan. Some stores will have the old-fashioned counter-top variety with Bunsen burner, while some places will have the mini 2-cup tabletop variety with Sterno.

  2. There's a mini version with a Sterno?!! Oooh, that sounds fun! The Bodum electronic one is the only model I've actually seen sold in stores, ever.

  3. I've got one but the bottom of the carafe has a crack and is leaking. I tried to buy a replacement, but it's out of stock.

    As for the non-electric, I have one of those as well. I need to get a new filter, and contacted Sweet Maria's (where I used to order green coffee to roast). They were incredibly responsive, so if you're interested in one, please check them out here.

  4. Anonymous11:25 AM

    This looks like a pretty cool gadget. I've got a whole collection of stove top pots like this that I started when I visited Tuscany on my honeymoon. Maybe I'm a bit sad but I can't get enough of them. My favourite is a high-pressure brikka (made by Bodum) which even manages to make a fairly stable crema on top. If you use freshly ground coffee then it's even better.