HomeRoast Digest

Topic: Vac Brewing Problem (10 msgs / 257 lines)
1) From: Gary Schine
I'm an experienced home roaster and admitted coffee fanatic who has always
relied on french press or manual drip brewing.  I know other equally
experienced coffe fanatics recommend vac brewing so I got myself a Bodum
Santos and anxiously tried it.  I haven't been able to get a good brew out
of it yet.  Half the time the filter clogs and I have to abort the brew and
rescue it by pouring it through a paper filter (sometimes putting the whol
contraption back on the heat unclogs it but not always).  When I don't have
the clogging problem, I get only fair coffee.
If it wasn't for the fact that so many sophisticated coffee addicts swear by
it, I would just declare vacuum brewing to be a novelty method that looks
cool but doesn't work.
So, what am I dong wrong??
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2) From: Gary Zimmerman
Gary Schine wrote:
Sounds like your problem is in the grind.
It might also be in the degree of roast, because I *think* I've noticed a 
difference in evenness of grind depending on darkness of the bean.  I use a 
hand grinder and certainly lighter rosted beans are much harder to grind.
So, to begin with, I'd use a slightly coarser grind and more coffee.  If 
you still get the stalling, try a different degree of roast (can't say 
whether lighter or darker would be better).  I occasionally have the 
slow-or-no pulldown problem too, but only rarely when I use my Santos.  I 
have one hand grinder I leave set for "coarser" grinds, like vac pot, gold 
filter, and press pot, and another I have set to a much finer grind that I 
use for my everyday Melitta filter drip brews.
Others on this list have experimented with other filters for the Santos, 
like a glass rod or paper filter disk, but I've been very happy with the 
original plastic disc filter that came with it.
-- garyZ
       & vacuum
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3) From: floyd burton
It's called a stuck vac pot-generally it is caused by too fine a grind-just
keep making your grind slightly coarses.  However if you have a grinder that
makes lots of dust-then you will have stuck brews all the time.  I have a
commercial Bunn grinder and no dust but had a lot of stuck brews till I got
my grind coarse enough.  I really like my vac pot now that I have got my
grinder dialed in.  When they get stuck - it takes a lot of effort to break
the vac-glad I have a ss Nicro-no implosions here.

4) From: Fulton Martin
--On Saturday, March 02, 2002 1:29 PM -0500 Gary Schine 
Using the Bodum Santos? 8-)  Seriousl y, it was my first vacuum pot, 
and maybe it was beginners luck, but it made *wonderful* coffee, right 
off the bat. It wasn't until I started fooling around with the grind 
and different roasts and stuff that it started stalling occasionally 
(very frustrating, I agree). By that time, I had a Yama and a SS Food 
Service Direct pot, neither of which has *ever* stalled. I seldom use 
the Santos anymore, as I chipped the bottom tube. 8-(
If I had to guess, I'd say your grind may be a bit too fine. You didn't 
say what kind of grinder you're using, so without being too specific 
I'd say go a bit coarser than what you're using for your drip pot.
The other thing you might do is get a   for $7.42 from Food 
Service Direct. It'll work fine; screw the spring into the upper 
threads (more tension).
I hesistate to recommend a technique, as I recall (early in my 
experiments) making good coffee starting with cold water in the bottom 
of mine, and using an alcohol lamp to heat it, resulting in a trip 
"north" that took about 20 minutes. Nowadays, for all my vacuum coffee, 
no matter which pot I'm using, I preboil the water and pour it into the 
bottom pot, then put that on a low burner, and as soon as I put the top 
on, the water heads "north" immediately. As soon as there's enough 
water in the top to do so, I stir to wet the grounds and start a 
two-minute timer. At the end of the two minutes, I take it off the heat 
onto a trivet for the trip "south."
Fulton Martin
San Diego, CA
N32 43.956, W117 05.874
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5) From: John - wandering Texas
    Like all things coffee - it requires dialing in the grind.  If you are
stalling the Vac pot you might 1) back off the grind a click or two  and 2)
Make sure water is boiling hot before putting the top on the pot  3) make
sure the coffee is completely free of chaff.
I had all the fun you're having when I first got my Cona Vac.  The kind
people on the list had me straightened out in a couple of days :O)
John - finding it hard to believe that its going to freeze here on the
Mexican border - they'll be ice-skating over now.

6) From: Bob Norton
On 3/3/02John - wandering Texas wrote:
I find this guarantees overflow if you're using freshly roasted coffee. I
always put the top on (with coffee) before I put it on the heat. I never
get stalls.
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7) From: John - wandering Texas
I guess it depends on the Vac pot being used.  I know the Cona behaves best
if I wait until I see bubbles before putting the top on.  But then the top
on the Cona is ample in size and shaped well (like a brandy glass!).

8) From: Steven Dover
I too, wait to see small bubbles on the bottom prior to putting the top on.
I do this for a couple of reasons...I don't want the coffee to get too hot
before the water goes up top...and, I want the water to be 'hot enough'
before it goes up top. Ftr, I'm using a Cory Rubberless. Some folks hate
'em...but - I like the rubberless much better than *anything* with a rubber
gasket. With the right grind, stalls are *very* rare. - Steve D...with 2
Cory Rubberless, 1 Cory with a rubber gasket {the largest Cory vac made in
the early '50's}, 1 Silex, and 3 Sunbeam Coffeemasters.

9) From: Gary Zimmerman
Steven Dover wrote:
If I were to go rubberless, I'd worry about STDs - stall to death.
(I'm so sorry.)
-- garyZ
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10) From: JKG
From: Gary Zimmerman 
(snipped offending humor)
More coffee spilled on my keyboard today.  Thanks,
Gary.  :-)
(who goes bare from time to time with my 
rubberless Cory but prefers the Yama for
everyday brewing)
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