HomeRoast Digest


Topic: I think I'm done with the vacpot (34 msgs / 1210 lines)
1) From: Seth Grandeau
As with many things in life, my very first pot of vacpot coffee was
spectacular, but I have not been able to repeat it and far too many pots of
homeroast have gone down the drain, including this mornings Ethiopian.  I
have the 8-cup Yama.  After a few pots, I started to worry about the cloth
filter's cleanliness, so I ordered a cory rod off of ebay.  This has led to
nothing but torment.  Most pots stall on the way south.  I thought it was my
Baratza grinder, so I upgraded to a Rocky.  Espresso shots have improved,
but the vacpot still stalls.  Is it possible my cory rod is bad?  It has a
textured finish on the "ball" part, but it's not VERY textured.  Should I
try buying another one?  Should I just stick to reliable drip coffee?
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2) From: Sheila Quinn
I'm with you, Seth! I found a Cory vacpot in an antique shop for a good 
price, and it's just too much trouble. Not only does it stall no matter 
how I set the grind (I also have a Rocky) but it just takes too darned 
long. Even when I start with hot water from my water kettle, it still 
seems like it takes forever. I decided it isn't worth the hassle and put 
it in the closet. I'm much too impatient to mess around with that thing 
for a pot of coffee! I have oodles of other brewing methods anyway, so I 
gave up on it.
Sheila
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3) From: Barry Luterman
What a shame I have a Bodum Santos and Cory and never never stall. the
coffee is phenomenal and takes not much more time than drip. If you have the
grind right the culprit must be the gasket. soften it up. Take it off the
neck of the brewer place it in boiling water. when the water cools move the
gasket to ice water. repeat until gasket is pliable. I suspect you have tiny
intermittent air leaks.
On Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 6:49 AM, Seth Grandeau  wrote:
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4) From: John and Emma
Seth,
I have the same vac pot, bought my Cory Rod from SM's, have a Baratza
Virtuoso grinder and only had one stall in about a year. The stall was
because my grind setting was for my Moka Pot instead of for my Vac Pot. With
the Vac Pot I found the perfect grinder setting was 29. For the Moka Pot I
use a setting of 12. You can see why it stalled. I use my Vac Pot every day
and love it. Like you my first experience with my Vac Pot was amazing. After
replacing the cloth filter with the Cory Rod from SM's I was WOWed once
again. I do find that when I'm bored with the results from my Vac Pot I use
the French Press or Moka Pot as alternatives. Every time I go back to my Vac
Pot I know why it is my brewing method of choice. I don't have an Espresso
machine yet so until then these are the only three methods I use to brew my
elixir of life. I have tried other methods but these are the three that
produce the best results for me.
John H.

5) From: Douglas Hoople
Hi All,
First of all, the glass rod from SM is the Cona rod, not the Cory rod.
And yes, it's smoother than other glass rods. So your results will improve
if you can find the rougher-textured Cory rod or Corning rod, which I think
can only be found used.
I authored a thread about a month ago about a vacpot implosion that I
experienced, so I know precisely what you're going through. The revised
notice on the SM Cona rod page is based on the experience documented in that
thread.
One thing that will cause a stall just about every time is to have a vortex
or whirlpool going at the time that the pot reverses and starts the draw
down. So avoidance of late stirring is recommended, and, in general, if
you're going to stir while brewing with the glass rod, try to keep the
motion random.
I now use a Corning rod, and it stalls much less often. Even so, if I get
the water spinning during drawdown, it will still stall.
With a few precautions, the stalls can be avoided. There are people who've
been using vacpots for years, many with glass rod drainers. They love the
vacpot.
I've only been using a vacpot for two or three months. Given a choice of
glass rod or cloth filter, I'd take the glass rod anytime. I also have a
Hario TCA-2, for which no glass rod is available. I'm never quite sure that
the cloth filter is clean enough.
As for vacpot vs. other methods. Well, I don't think that I'll ever be able
to enter the ranks of the espresso makers... way too much expensive
equipment and way too much precision (!!!) and way to little to drink at the
end of it. With espresso not on the list, I'd have to say I'd take a vacpot
over any other method. No question.
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6) From: R Nepsund
I picked up a Bodum Santos electric vac-pot at a thrift store for $9
about a week and a half ago :-) .   Works great. My only complaint is
that it has a 4 cup (2 mugs) minimum.   I'm trying finer grinds with
it and running it through some filter felt afterwards to remove the
fines.
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7) From:
Seth, simply try a larger grind. If you stir...try stiring only at the beginning...and not on the descent...which causes a mound that, in my experience, makes for a cleaner cup, but causes more stalling. I use between a 15-20 (from true zero) on the Rocky with my cory vacpot. It never stalls unless I create a mound.
Also my opinion, that almost nothing beats a french press for control and simplicity. The vac pot has quite a few more variables.
Good luck.
Dean De Crisce
Sent from a Treo phone

8) From:
Barry,
other than the cleanliness of the cup, do you find different flavors than in a french press?
just to check in with my technique...fill vacpot with water...heat up...put thermometer in upper bowl...grind at 17 from true zero on Rocky...when water moves north and temp stable at 200, turn down heat part way and add the ground coffee...stir with a chopstick and let brew 70-90 secs...turn off heat and remove to counter...let drain withou enhancement (no cold towel or stirred syphon). 
makes a nice cup...but not much different than FP.
What do you do?
Dean De Crisce
Sent from a Treo phone

9) From:
Maybe my grind is incorrect...i use about the same grind for the vacpot 17 as for the aeropress 13 and moka pot 15. 
Dean De Crisce
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10) From: Douglas Hoople
Interesting that you think that vacpot and FP are so similar. I find them to
be like night and day. The sediments in the FP cloud the intrinsic flavors,
IMHO.
I've never been happy with FP coffee, but love the coffee that comes out of
my vacpot.
On Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 12:04 PM,  wrote:
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11) From: John A C Despres
NO! Don't get rid of it! It's a wonderful brew once you get it dialed in.
I might have an idea or two for you to try.
First, run just water as if there were coffee in the upper bowl. If it still
doesn't flow to the bottom, the problem may not be your grind. Go ahead and
preheat your water as normal, add it to the bottom and set the funnel with
rod or cloth filter in place but do not add coffee and continue with your
normal brewing process. It's possible you may still gave the same problem
without grounds in there.
If the clear water stalls, it could be the seal is bad, or you didn't leave
the pot on the heat long enough. As soon as the water starts heading up,
dial your heat to medium and leave it there. Once the water reaches the top,
leave the pot on the fire for at least another two minutes - this helps
create a greater vacuum. After two minutes, remove from the heat and wait.
I'm going to guess the degree of texture on the rod won't make that much
difference, once you get the proper amount of vacuum below.
If after trying this a few times and it's working well, go ahead and add
your coffee. I use a grind between drip and French press. Make notes on
various grinds and adjust from there.
Have fun, post results.
John
On Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 3:07 PM,  wrote:
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12) From: Barry Luterman
I haven't had a Rocky in a long time. As I remember I ground for Vacuum at
about 30 over true zero. First I heat the water in a separate kettle. This
saves the glass of the Vacuum pot from some wear and tear. The trick is not
to over heat the water in the kettle. You want to keep it below 205 degrees.
Now I fill the vacuum pot with water up to the 8 cup line. Place the upper
bowl on the lower bowl with the Cory rod in place and the ground coffee in
the upper bowl. When the water hits 205 degrees (at sea level) it will
automatically start rising into the upper bowl. Therefore, there is probably
no need for a thermocouple as long as you start with water below 205
degrees.When 2 cups have entered the upper chamber I mix them gently with a
disposable  chop stick and reduce the heat to simmer.I do this to give
myself a little extra brew time and to reduce the force of the Cory Rod
displacement at the end of the rise time.  Now I leave the pot on simmer for
1 minute. Then remove the pot and place it on trivet. It takes about 90 to
120 sec for all the coffee to filter down to the inferior bowl. The coffee
never stalls and is always delicious.
On Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 10:04 AM,  wrote:
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13) From: dennis true
All this Vac-Pot talk is making me want to get one here in Cuba... I  
LOVE the coffee from it both rod and filter are wonderful...
On Mar 7, 2009, at 2:06 PM, Douglas Hoople wrote:
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14) From:
Hi...what do they use in cuba? I believe most people use a moka pot. Is that true?
Dean De Crisce
Sent from a Treo phone

15) From: dennis true
LOL I'm stuck on base so we have old drip pots that do a weak job of  
making anything... glad I have my AP!!
On Mar 7, 2009, at 9:27 PM,   wrote:
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16) From: MichaelB
I now use the cloth filter all the time. I currently have three ready for
use that I rotate through regularly. As soon as I decide I want a vac pot I
start soaking a dry filter in hot water. I have a hot water on demand tap
which helps with prep and cleanup. Then as soon as the coffee is finished
brewing I immediately pour it into a thermal carafe and clean up. (Well
maybe I'll drink a half cup immediately and then set it down to cool a bit
while I clean up.) First I clean the bottom bowl with a pinch of cafiza,
sometimes with a long bristle brush to help, sometimes just with vigorous
shaking of the pot. Then I turn the funnel over in the sink and aim the
water flow down the tube so the water is flowing through the bottom of the
filter and pushing out the grinds. When all the grinds are gone I release
the filter, give it a good rinse on both sides with a strong flow of water
from the tap. Then I soak it in a small cup with a pinch of oxyclean,
agitate it gently in the oxyclean till well saturated, then leave to
soak for about an hour. Then agitate well, rinse very well in several
changes of hot water. Then hang up to dry. Smells fresh. Looks brand new.
Water passing through it is sparkling clean. All this sounds more laborious
than it is; it's just your normal cleanup, no harder than cleaning a press
pot.
As for length of time to prepare a brew, I think most folks are too timid
with heating. If you watch the youtubes of those mult thousand $ halogen
setups the water is boiling vigorously just before the barista fixes the top
funnel in place. Water rises very quickly when it at or near boiling below.
Try it. When water is fully risen (less than 30 secs with this method) I
give it a little stir with a whisk to even out the temperature and then add
the grinds. Another stir, then wait for your preferred extraction time. A
few different schools of thought here. From lots of coffee, ground
finely for a short time (minute or less) to more coarsely ground SCAA dose
for two mins or so (the latter is my preference). Then off the flame to
cool, a gentle stir to encourage the formation of a center mound.
All this is as quick or quicker than using press pot start to finish. And if
you make filter coffee with care - pre-wetting grinds, waiting for bloom to
subside, then pouring small slow stream throughout the extraction, you're
also in the same time range.
As with any method you choose to make your coffee, if you practice patience,
attention to detail, consistency, and a constant search for ways to improve
your output based on your taste, you will be rewarded. IMO vacpot coffee
will pay more dividends than most other method you may choose to spend time
perfecting. Give up on it and risk depriving your taste buds.
On Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 11:49 AM, Seth Grandeau  wrote:
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--
MichaelB
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17) From: Bob Glasscock
Hey Dean,
Sorry to hear about your frustration with the vp. After being humiliated by
stalled brews, I gradually bumped the coarseness up a notch at a time until
I got consistently good coffee. In my Maestro Plus (not nearly the grinder
you are using) my setting for vp is 31-32. My brewing methods alternate - vp
on the weekends, chemex after work, and Technivorm weekdays, leaving the
Moka and AP for variety. Still haven't gone over to the dark side - saving
my shekels (or should I begin saving Euros?). -Don't give up. -Bob G.

18) From:
Nice post
Dean De Crisce
Sent from a Treo phone

19) From:
I was just resonding to the thread...im doing well with the vacpot. 
Dean De Crisce
Sent from a Treo phone

20) From: Bob Glasscock
Oops.

21) From: Rich Adams

22) From: Douglas Hoople
To repeat. With a glass rod, make sure that the water is NOT spinning
(vortex, whirlpool) at drawdown.
If using a cloth filter, you can spin and vortex all you like, and it leaves
a pretty rounded mound behind when you do.
Don't do that when using the glass rod. It just begs for a stall when you
do.
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23) From: Angelo
Seth,
I found this info on the web...
"One thing to look for with the Cory glass filter rods is that there 
are two styles. The common original style, labeled "CORY FILTER ROD" 
(5.75 inches long), is okay for coffee but was designed for tea. The 
much less common "NEW CORY ROD" (6.5 inches long) is optimized for 
coffee. Sellers are often not aware of this distinction, but it's 
worth clarifying if you're buying a Cory brewer or rod.
For cloth filters, Oxy-Clean works well. Soak the cloth in a cup of 
boiling water with about 1 tsp. Oxy-Clean for several hours. Rinse 
VERY thoroughly and dry.
The Nicro stainless steel filter is rare but is a great option if you 
can find it. No need for paper or cloth, and less prone to stalling 
than glass rods. "
Hope this is helpful to all those who have stalls with their Cory rods.
I like the stainless filter from the Nicro pots.
I'm wondering if anyone has tried to wrap the metal from the 
Swissgold filter around the disk of a cloth filter holder?
A.
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24) From: Seth Grandeau
Doug, that might be my problem.  I do stir when I move it off the heat
(specifically to make the cute mound).
To answer some other suggestions, I just did a test without any coffee in it
and I was SHOCKED at how fast it draws down.  It's not a defective rod
problem.
When stalled, the vaccum is very hard (I can't move the glass rod at all),
so it's not the gasket.
When I stall, it starts to draw down slowly, then stops.  I left it sitting
there for over 10 minutes and it did not get above the 2 on the 8 cup model.
My overall process is to fill to the 8 with filtered tap water.  I put the
bottom globe on my smooth top electric stove on medium and heat it to a
boil.  I then drop it to it's lowest setting, and attach the top globe.
When all the water has moved north, I dump in the grounds (Rocky at 36 ticks
above true 0).  I give it a light stir to get the grounds wet, then let it
sit for 60 seconds, before pulling it off the heat, to a trivet.  I give it
a good circular stir (could be my problem) and wait for the magic, that does
not seem to happen.  I will ty it again without the last stir and see if
that helps.
Thanks for all the advice and suggestions.
-Seth
On Sun, Mar 8, 2009 at 1:05 PM, Douglas Hoople  wrote:
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25) From: Rich Adams

26) From:
I also stir twice. Once initially and then before the downward flow. I do it quickly in a chopping up and down fashion. When I have tried to make a vortex/mound, the cory stalls. Otherwise never a stall. I have always used about a 17 above true zero from the Rocky...which probably explains why I find the cup similar to a FP. Based on statements here as well as some reading on barismo...i just tried 25 above true zero...much cleaner cup with nice flavors.
Maybe next I will try 30!
Dean De Crisce
Sent from a Treo phone

27) From: Douglas Hoople
HI Seth,
If that's the case, then I can guarantee improved results by not vortexing.
Glass rod users all over the world report the high probability of a hard
stall when vortexing.
Note that the Zen practice of perfect vortexing is currently most
compellingly advocated by the folks who use the halogen syphon bar (i.e.,
the Blue Bottle Coffee folks). For the record, they use cloth filters, not
glass rods.
Doug
On Sun, Mar 8, 2009 at 12:46 PM, Seth Grandeau  wrote:
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28) From: Douglas Hoople
Hi Mike,
Thanks for writing this up again. I was looking for it from about a month
ago, but didn't have the stick-to-it-iveness to dig through the old threads.
One quick question: when you clean the filters, do you leave them in place
on the stainless frame, or do you remove them and clean them cloth-only? It
sounds like you clean the whole assembly and not just the cloth. That would
definitely take some of the sting out of the cleaning ritual.
Thanks.
Doug
On Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 9:45 PM, MichaelB  wrote:
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29) From: raymanowen
"...Baratza grinder, so I upgraded to a Rocky."
You've done all the troubleshooting, now just read the tea leaves and
analyze the picture, plus I have a bit of trivia to add.
The two grinders you cited are lightweights. The Solis Maestro Plus is the
same as a Maestro, with an altered grind adjustment ring and a cast Zinc
base for additional weight and glitter.
Lightweight grinders can be good machines with good design, stiff plastic
structure and excellent burrs. Such burrs have not been a feature of the B
machine, and put excess strain on the lightweight structure. The horrible
rough burr finish tended to scratch fines out of the beans at any grind
setting. The newer the ring burrs, the worse they appeared, being cut with a
progressively worn out dull hob by their gear shaper.
The burrs shouldn't change with only a few grams' use, but maybe they did.
The poor vacuum pot is like the Rock of Gibraltar. What's to wear out? It
stalls and the sock is suspect; changing to a different filter style still
produces stalls. May not really be a vac pot problem, eh?
If you have a Wet/ Dry vacuum cleaner, stretch the filter sock over the
vacuum wand, set a bowl of boiling water with Simple Green dissolved in the
sink. Vacuum up a few slugs of the solution through the sock.
OR-
Less mess, secure the sock over the bristles of a bottle brush in the
silverware basket of your dishwasher with safety pins. Probably find a
suitable bottle brush at your friendly Ace Hardware store. They have a lot
of things that can be misused/ abused for other then the original purpose.
Don't be cleaning a load of dirty dishes while cleaning the sock. One wasted
wash/ detergent load won't cause a financial overburden. (It's all in the
name of coffee).
If the Grinders are the First Cause, what are they doing to all of your
other brewing methods? How many perfectly good beans and coffee brewers are
wasted because of a grinder with a poor burr set?
If one brewing method fails due to the grinder's producing fines, they all
suffer. The fines extract differently, even if they are successfully
filtered out.
Try flash freezing the beans prior to grinding- the beans tend to fracture
rather than tear. A coffee particle with a fuzzy surface like torn paper
just means the fines are still attached, still wrecking what could have been
a dazzling cup.
Cheers, Mabuhay -RayO, aka Opa!
Got Grinder?
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30) From: Seth Grandeau
I wanted to thank all the people who offered advice and help.  I think I
solved my problem.  It was the stirring.  I just potted up some very freshly
roasted Ethiopian WP Kebado.  I gave it a few random stirs to make sure all
the grounds were wet and to knock down the bloom a bit.  Then, I took it off
the heat and let it sit, no stir.  Coffee headed south in a nice orderly way
with NOT STALL!  Granted I did not get a zen like mound of gounds in the
upper globe, but a small price to pay for a great cup of coffee.
Thanks again!
-Seth
On Sun, Mar 8, 2009 at 1:07 PM, Angelo  wrote:
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31) From: Douglas Hoople
Hey Seth,
Glad you got it figured out! You have miles of great coffee ahead of you.
One final note on the mound. The cult of the mound is highly overrated,
owing to the odd divergence of perfection factors.
There's a kind of perfect elegance to the glass rod.
It's an elegance that you don't get with the cloth filter, with its
mechanics, the spring, the cleaning, etc.
In order to gain the Zen perfection of the mound, you have to give up the
Zen perfection of the glass rod.
A mound is a achievable through the simplest of stirs, in spite of the cult
of apprenticeship, practicing for months.
But it takes real understanding of the total dynamic to make the glass rod
work, knowing that less is more.
Here's my vote for the glass rod as a greater expression of the Zen
perfection of the vacpot, and the demotion of the mound because of its
reliance on the cloth filter and its anyone-can-do-it procedure.
Happy coffee-drinking, everyone, by whichever path you choose!
Doug
On Sat, Mar 14, 2009 at 9:24 AM, Seth Grandeau  wrote:
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32) From: Seth Grandeau
Doug,
What a nice way to put it.  I agree that the zen mound was shockingly easy
to get (had a beautiful one on my very first try).  Getting the glass rod to
work for me was much more challenging.
OK, three roasts resting comfortably (Ethiopian Kebado, and the last of my
Harrar Horse and Greenwell Kona).  I still have a half pot of vac Kebado in
my thermal carafe (already getting some lemon as the cup cools).  All in
all, a good start to the day. :)
-Seth
On Sat, Mar 14, 2009 at 12:37 PM, Douglas Hoople wrote:
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33) From: MichaelB
The way this thread has gone you need to change the title. Just remove the
"d" to make it closer to your current truth.
On Sat, Mar 14, 2009 at 1:14 PM, Seth Grandeau  wrote:
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MichaelB
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34) From: Michael Irrera
Doug,
Very well put. I've also come to this conclusion after experimenting  
with different stirring methods and filters.  It's been easy for me to  
get a mound (and stall if I'm using a rod), and I'm very skeptical  
that it does anything to enhance the cup.
Give me the relative simplicity, and extremely consistent results, of  
the glass rod. I, too, think that its overall Zen quotient is higher.
Regardless of the Zen factor, it's a lot easier to clean, and that  
alone would be a deciding factor for me, all others being equal.
-AdkMike
On Mar 14, 2009, at 12:37 PM, Douglas Hoople   
wrote:
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