Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Vacuum Pot Brewer

About a week ago, I picked up a Bodum Santos Electric Vacuum Coffee Maker. It rocks! This replaces my french press and a manual pourover process (boil water in a kettle and then pour it over the beans—I used a plastic filtercone and a Swissgold filter).

The problem with most automatic drip brewers is that the water doesn't get hot enough to fully extract the goodness from the beans. (Most serious coffee critics agree that ideal is between about 195 and 205 degrees F. Those that do it right approach the $200 price tag.

One problem with a french press is the disassembly and cleanup. Plus it takes too much interactive time. Start the boil—but don't go far! Start the brew—but it'll be done soon! The same is true for manual pourover: you have to sit there and pour the water over the beans. (Pourover was very easy to clean, however.)

An auto-drip is easy. Fill it up, turn it on, and walk away. I needed to balance convenience and quality, and this vacuum pot is it!

The vacuum pot is the best coffee maker I've used. The brew time (how long water is in contact with the beans) is perfect. The clean up isn't bad (though not as easy as throwing away a paper filter). And it's fully automatic. Fill it up, turn it on, and walk away. (Actually, this one has a timer feature, so it'll finish brewing right as I wake up. I know, you sacrifice a little with an 8-hour-old grind. But I'm trying to strike a balance here.)

The vacuum pot is based on cool science, too. Visit the product page, if you didn't before, and click on the "view product demo" link to see a video. The summary is that when water heats in the bottom chamber, increased pressure forces the slightly-less-than-boiling hot water up into the top brew chamber through the spout. When the bottom heat turns off, the pressure decreases and the coffee drains back down to the bottom pitcher through the nylon filter at the base of the brew chamber/spout. The result is an exceptional and clean cup!

The Santos Electric required an easy mod in order to get a proper brew time. But so far, I'm very happy with the product!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

On Trader Joe's

I'm a big fan of the products found at Trader Joe's. A recent New York Times article sheds some light into the process of how products make it to store shelves. It's a pretty interesting read. They seem like a very passionate bunch of food lovers over there.