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Topic: Cona question (15 msgs / 362 lines)
1) From: K W Matley
I got a Cona "D" brewer from Sweet Maria's a couple of weeks ago. I had 
previously used a Yama tabletop and was really happy with the coffee it 
produced, but wanted a larger pot and wanted to try brewing with no 
metal parts at all.
The Cona works pretty well, but it has a quirk that I'm wondering 
about. When I fill it with hot water and add the funnel, the water 
slowly rises into the funnel until the carafe is about half full. At 
that point there is a loud pop, the entire brewer shakes, the glass 
strainer jumps up and the rest of the water (save the small amount that 
never leaves the carafe) rushes into the funnel. There is also a some 
backflow into the carafe, including a small amount of grounds, leaving 
me with a slightly muddy cup of coffee. Is this the way the Cona is 
supposed to work? Is it possible that the glass strainer is a bit too 
heavy and allows the carafe to build excessive pressure? 
Thanks!
Ken
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2) From: Barry Luterman
Try reducing the heat while brewing.Use a lower flame.
On Sun, Apr 6, 2008 at 6:57 AM, K W Matley  wrote:
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3) From: Paul Helbert
Are you using the alcohol lamp? Heat doesn't get much lower than that. Are
you leaving an inch or so of air space above the water? Short answer is
"No", it isn't supposed to do what you describe.
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4) From: K W Matley
Yeah, I'm using the alcohol lamp, which as far as I can see is not 
adjustable. I just read on another site that the Cona takes 3-5 minutes 
to complete the brewing if you start with boiling water. Mine takes 
about 10, even after preheating the carafe. It seems like it starts out 
OK, but then stalls for several minutes (I guess while building up 
steam for the pop).
Ken
On Sun, 6 Apr 2008 14:31:50 -0400, Paul Helbert wrote:
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5) From: Barry Luterman
See my previous e-mail about the gasket.
On Sun, Apr 6, 2008 at 9:44 AM, K W Matley  wrote:
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6) From: Rich
Do you get the same results if YOU start with water that has been 
boiled?  Let the water come to a full boil in the kettle.
K W Matley wrote:
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7) From: K W Matley
I have never tried without boiling the water first. I bring the kettle 
to a boil, pour about a cup of water into the carafe and return the 
kettle to boil while I swirl the water in the carafe and start the 
alcohol lamp. I then dump out the scalding water and pour in fresh 
boiling water from the kettle. The carafe goes onto the lamp as soon as 
I wipe any water drops off if it. Thanks.
Kwn  
On Sun, 06 Apr 2008 17:16:08 -0500, Rich wrote:
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8) From: K W Matley
Thanks for the info about the gasket. I think this might be part of the 
problem, though not because of leakage. The gasket is very tight going 
in and typically there is about 1/2 inch of the neck of the funnel 
exposed when I insert it into the carafe. Yesterday I ran several water 
only batches and found that the pop was less if I really pushed the 
funnel down so that there was less neck showing. I spooned a little 
water into the flare at the neck of the carafe so I would see bubbles 
if the gasket leaked, and it appeared not to. I also started 
experimenting with the stand, which appears to be a bit out of true. 
When the whole apparatus is assembled and sitting on the stand, there 
is about a 10 degree tilt. I'm wondering if being out of true affects 
the operation of the strainer. I've been gradually bending the stand 
down so that the apparatus is straighter--I'm  a bit hesitant to try 
too much as I don't know how brittle the metal stand is. Anyway, this 
morning with less neck exposed and a straighter apparatus, the Cona 
only took about 5-6 minutes to fill the funnel, as apposed to 8-10 
minutes previously. Still a pop, but maybe not as violent.
I'd say that experimenting with roast profiles is more fun, but until 
my roaster's parts arrive I've got the time to play with this....
Ken 
On Sun, 6 Apr 2008 09:52:18 -1000, Barry Luterman wrote:
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9) From: Rich
One of the major pains of the vac pot is leakage.  It only takes inches 
per square inch pressure to put the water up in the top so pressure 
leakage from the lower chamber is usually not a problem unless its 
gross.  Drawing the brew back does take full vacuum though and a vacuum 
leak is much harder to spot.  The gasket should be soft enough to allow 
reasonably fully seating the top into the bottom.
K W Matley wrote:
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10) From: Barry Luterman
As I said before. You might not always see the leak. After you boil the
gasket a few times put a thin layer of Vaseline on it and try it again. If
it is a leak you will notice the improvement immediately. If not you will
have done no harm to the pot or gasket.
On Mon, Apr 7, 2008 at 1:57 PM, Rich  wrote:
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11) From: MichaelB
Ken,
Here are some thoughts based on your comments. Hopefully there will be some
hits here along with the inevitable misses.
- You mention neck space above the inserted funnel. There should not be any
glass neck space above the stopper. The stopper needs to be snug against the
funnel as high as it will go. If the stopper part sticks up beyond the neck
of the bottom container that is probably OK as long as there is a good seal.
As you attach the funnel turn it as if you were screwing it into the bottom
unit so that you have a better chance of getting the snuggest fit possible.
 - Start out with a coarse grind. Hopefully you have a quality burr grinder
that is not producing excessive fines to slow down or stall filtering. If
you've been on this list more than 5 minutes you know how highly we value
the importance of the grinder. 'nuff said.
- I think you're suffering from too little heat to drive the water upwards
reliably. Instead of a smooth upward flow you get sudden jump when the vapor
pressure finally builds up below to push the remaining water up in one rush
rather than a steady flow. Do yourself a favor and get the butane burner
that Tom sells as a replacement for the toy lamps that come with Cona and
Yama. It will get the water to correct temperature quickly. It is easy to
adjust to get the water as hot as you want before attaching the top and then
allowing the water to stay up top as long as you want before turning it off
to start the downward trip.
- Have you seen the youtube videos of the Japanese siphon stands that use
halogen lights to heat the water?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkOCKbEj-vQI have changed my vacuum technique since seeing what they do. I now bring">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjH1hzl-Iq0http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3JcOndpcGU&feature=relatedhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkOCKbEj-vQI have changed my vacuum technique since seeing what they do. I now bring
the water to the exact temperature I want, then quickly seal the top unit in
place, and get an immediate and rapid rise of water to the top. This allows
you to be quite consistent with the brewing temperature and extraction time
of your coffee.You can experiment to find out what temperature and time work
best for your beans, then duplicate the settings every time. You can take
the water to 200 degrees or whatever you want and you will get an instant
rise of water as soon as you attach the top.
(Some of the videos show the water boiling vigorously. This may be OK
because the temperature will drop drastically when the water rises to
the top funnel and encounters the room temperature coffee. Or
perhaps they're in RayO country where water boils at a lower temperature
than sea level.)
-There is always room for tweaking and improving technique, even when you
are getting reasonable results. But you're not quite there yet. Faulty
equipment? Inexperience? Other factors? Keep trying. Hopefully you're on the
verge of a breakthrough. Happy brewing.
On 4/7/08, K W Matley  wrote:
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MichaelB
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12) From: K W Matley
Thanks. I've been wondering about the butane burner SM's sells. From 
the pictures it looks like it might be too high to fit under the Cona's 
bowl. Do you have any experience with this? I've been looking around at 
lab stands, wondering if it might be a good idea to dispense with the 
Cona's stand entirely. 
I grind with a Rancilio Rocky, so grind quality should not be an issue. 
The behavior I describe, including the stall, occurs with no coffee in 
the funnel as well as in normal operation. I first wondered if the 
grinds were stalling the brewing, but the water does rise enough to 
float the grinds before the stall--and then of course it stalls with no 
grinds present. 
The halogen lamps also are intriguing. Again, stand issues....
I think I'm gonna try a different brand of alcohol in the lamp and see 
if that makes any difference at all.
Ken
 
On Tue, 8 Apr 2008 09:37:45 -0400, MichaelB wrote:
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13) From: Paul Helbert
The Yama butane lamp that SM sells is way too tall for the Cona D. Perhaps
you could make a stand which would raise it to a reasonable level, but
please make sure it is good and stout.
On Tue, Apr 8, 2008 at 10:07 AM, K W Matley  wrote:
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Paul Helbert
Prepackaged, roasted & ground coffee,,,
One of the worst ideas since sliced bread.
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14) From: MichaelB
I have the C model and use 3 cork coasters, a bit less than a half inch
thick to raise the stand high enough to clear the butane burner. This method
is solid enough for me. Hockey pucks are good too if you need the extra
height (and if you happen to have some lying around, eh?)
While I use the butane burner at the dining room table, I can use the Cona
directly on my gas stovetop. I remove the metal grate from around the simmer
burner. The cutout opening of the Cona stand fits around the small burner,
the stand sits on the flat surface around it, and the bowl is suspended at
the right height over the gas flame. And the other metal and plastic parts
are far enough away to keep from excessive heating.
Caveats. You may not want to try this at home with a circa $200 brewer. It
is potentially dangerous. Open flames, delicate glass parts, rubber and
plastic parts very near flames. I never would have tried this without
watching those videos and the casual way the users handle the boiling units.
I started with extra care and with ove gloves but don't need them anymore.
On 4/8/08, K W Matley  wrote:
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MichaelB
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15) From: Michael I
Not to further confound things, but my butane burner fits perfectly under my
Hario.  I put water from the hot water tap of my espresso machine into the
bottom, turn on the burner, and it's boiling in 30 seconds or so.  I usually
make a vac pot every day, as I think it's just about as convenient as my
press pot (though more fragile).
I can also use the Hario on my stove in much the way you describe, but so
much heat goes up the sides of the pot, I'm concerned what prolonged use in
that manner would do to the rest of the assembly (plastic handle and such).
But it's a good backup if I run out of butane.
-AdkMike


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