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Cups, assorted news, and newbie vacuum brewer tips
Cups, assorted news, and newbie vacuum brewer tips
Posted September 2, 2001 4:30pm
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Quick News Bytes
The contributions keep rolling in... I'm completely humbled by them. Thanks especially to a fellow Canuckian who donated $50 on his own (for the extremely minor help I gave him in tracking down a good deal on a Silvia/Rocky combo), but I don't want to single that person out: everyone's donation is awesome. You guys rock.

One of my more favoured cups in my pretty huge espresso cup collection is this set by Tramontina, a Brasilian manufacturer of high quality pots and kitchen utensils. I also thought they were very rare. An Ikea buyer told me the story about these cups (click the link to read), and I thought I had something pretty special. Well, the cups are special, but apparently they aren't so rare anymore - a big thanks to Glenn Rinks who sent me this link to Bed, Bath and Beyond where the identical cups are being sold for $10 per set, including a spoon (I never got a spoon!). Bad news though for Canadians out there - the site does not sell to us low lifes - they only accept US-based credit card holders :-( Your friendly neighbourhood CoffeeKid will need to find someone who will buy me a couple (or 4) and I'll compensate them for it. Back to these cups - while they do not hold the same temps that the rock and roll Inox cups from Baratza do (those are the most amazing heat-retention cups I've ever used), the Tramontina cups have a style and substance of quality nonetheless. I especially like the near perfect bowl shape the insides have. If you have a stainless steel fetish, these are the cups for you.

CoffeeGeek is moving along... thanks for the really positive feedback (and a ton of questions about what it is and does) on the new "skin" for our content management system. But CoffeeGeek isn't moving along fast enough. I crack the whip on the programming guys, I pay their hours as they work, but nothing to show yet. I can't even get them to nail down a hard delivery date any longer :-(

In case you didn't know, my personal site, Spiffle, has been completely redesigned and is finally starting to mature in it's most recent incarnation. I'm starting to populate the archives, including ALL the rants I've written online in the past 6 years or so. Some are pretty frivolous, some are the most difficult things I've had to write. I've got over 300 rants to put up on the site dating back to early 1996, so even though the content management system that runs Spiffle is very slick, it will still take me time. I did manage to upload about 30 of my old rants in about 2 hours. Not too bad. That includes verifying links and some minor editing (removing things that no longer exist, or rerouting links).

One thing about my personal site... every rants page has its own "feedback and comments" system, which all the feedback for a particular rant tied to that particular rant. But no one comments! Maybe I'm just a suck about it, but hey, my personal site gets about 250 unique visitors a day, and no one writes me. Wahhhhh. :-)

I got a lot of positive feedback over the latest addition to this site - the inside look of a super automatic espresso machine. A lot of curious Georges out there, and that's great! Thanks to everyone who's been writing me expressing their gratitude for a look inside a fairly complex machine. No sweat, it was fun (relative) doing it, and I'll probably be tearing apart other $1000 devices soon and putting the pics online :-)

Vacuum Siphon Brewers and Newbie Problems
Chris over at Lockergnome (and Tech TV's Call for Help show - yeah, that's him hugging a keyboard :-)) has been having problems as of late with his new Bodum Electric Santos (née Starbucks Utopia)... problems with a machine he bought on my recommendation. Turns out it's a fairly common problem most new vac pot owners have... maybe RTFM'ing too much. (read the ___ing manual). I've found most vac pot manuals are chock full of mistakes and incorrect instructions, and the Santos is no different. If you want the correct way to operate a vac pot, check out this photo essay I did on the subject. But if you're suffering from clickitus after reading this page, I'll give a short step by step here.

  1. You should always preheat the brewing water in all vac pots before adding the top globe / siphon part. By "preheat" I mean get the water in the bottom globe up to 170F or so. How do you know what 170F is? By eye, just wait until you start seeing wisps of steam/vapor come out of the bottom globe, but don't wait so long that you start to see agitation from boiling.
  2. Depending on the filter you use, you should grind slightly finer than you would for normal filter coffee. If you're using a mesh metal filter, a bit coarser. If you're using paper, the same as filter. Metal (aka nicro) filters should almost be as coarse as what you would do for press pots. While your bottom water is heating up, grind approx. 7 grams (one rounded tablespoon) of coffee for every 4 ounces of water. Attach the filter to the top globe / siphon, and add your coffee.
  3. Once you attach the top part, the "kick up" or "trip north" as I like to call it, should occur in a minute or so. As soon as you get an inch or two of coffee up top, you should stir to fully saturate your grinds. With some vac pots, you don't have to do this, but I would recommend you do it with all of them. Just a quick stir, maybe 5 seconds' worth should do it.
  4. Once the water is fully up north, start your timer - either internally in your brain, via a preset countdown timer (all hard core vac pot users should have one) or your watch. Brewing times differ with different vac pots, but a good rule of thumb (not gospel here) is this: 3 cuppers should brew for about 55 seconds; 5 cuppers for about 1:45 minutes:seconds, and 8 cuppers for about 2:45 to 3:30 minutes: seconds. Once the time has elapsed, remove the heat source (or remove your vac pot from the heat source). The electrical Santos models should do a proper kickdown on their own, I haven't heard any really serious timing issues.

That's pretty much it. It may look like rocket science, but vac pot brewing can become second nature. And you get an awesome cuppa. For more info, you can always view my Vac Pot FAQ, hosted on this very site.

Oh, and Chris did follow the stir and add the top after water preheats rules, and his coffee has improved greatly. He says next he has to find a better blend to use.... well gee, I suppose I should mail him off some CoffeeKid HomeRoast, dontcha think? :-)

And on that note, time to wrap up this latest installment. Once again I want to thank everyone who took some of their hard earned money, no matter how small or large, to donate to this site and it's associate costs. You guys rock.

Till next time, thanks for stopping by!

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