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Topic: Yama brewing... (27 msgs / 1301 lines)
1) From: Wendy Sarrett
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I tried my new Yama, that I just got from SM's out for the first time
tonight.  It seems to have taken a long time (probably 20-25 minutes)
for the water to be sucked up into the top chamber.  Is that normal??
Once I took it off the heat it seemed to flow back to the bottom chamber
pretty well.   If the "suck-up" time is too long,  what might I be doing
wrong?  Any other good tips for brewing with these puppies?
 
Thanks!
Wendy
 

2) From: Mark A. Chalkley
I don't have a Yama, Wendy, but I've got a couple of Harios and a
Bodum Santos (non-electric) and they all work the pretty much the
same.  So I'll take a stab at it.
First of all, the mechanics of what's happening:  When you heat the
bottom carafe with the water in it, pressure builds and forces the
water into the bowl on top.  This process is typically referred to by
us scientific types as "the trip north".  ;>)  Then, when you remove
the heat from the bottom carafe, the return to ambient temperature,
coupled with the fact that it's now relatively empty of the water that
was there before, creates a vacuum that sucks the water back into the
bottom carafe, scientifically known as "the trip south" (once again,
tongue decidedly in cheek), thus the term "vacuum pot".
Now, to your question:  If it's taking 20-25 minutes to build enough
pressure in the bottom carafe to force "the trip north", I can only
guess that you're not pre-heating the water before you put it in the
carafe.  Try bringing the water to a boil first, using your favorite
method.  (I used to use a microwave, but these days I use an electric
kettle designed to do it a little more quickly and efficiently.)  If
you pre-heat the water first, you'll probably see north trip times
closer to 3-4 minutes.
Where many run into problems is with "stalling".  This happens when
the suction from the bottom is insufficient to pull all the coffee
back into the carafe during the trip south.  Remember, you really
don't want the water in the upper bowl with the coffee grounds longer
than 4 minutes or so - many prefer about 3 minutes - or it'll
over-extract and turn the coffee bitter.  If you ever have a problem
with stalling, it'll likely be that the coffee is ground too finely.
Also, wrapping a damp cloth around the upper part of the carafe can
sometimes "unstall" it.
Hope this helps.
Mark C.
On Wednesday, December 4, 2002, 11:06:19 PM, Wendy Sarrett wrote:
WS> I tried my new Yama, that I just got from SM's out for the first time
WS> tonight.  It seems to have taken a long time (probably 20-25 minutes)
WS> for the water to be sucked up into the top chamber.  Is that normal??
WS> Once I took it off the heat it seemed to flow back to the bottom chamber
WS> pretty well.   If the "suck-up" time is too long,  what might I be doing
WS> wrong?  Any other good tips for brewing with these puppies?
 
WS> Thanks!
WS> Wendy
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3) From: Wendy Sarrett
Thanks Marc,
Actually I did preheat the water.  The time was the time for all the
water to get up there, not for it to start.  What I noticed is it did
the first two lines of water (from 5 to 3) very slowly (most of the
20-25 minutes) and then quickly dropped.  Does this make sence?
Wendy

4) From: Mark A. Chalkley
Wendy,
That sounds pretty strange, to me.  I've been using vac pot (or the
Royal balance pot, which is the same principle, using a side-by-side
layout) full time for a couple years or so, and I've never seen
anything like that, except when the water isn't hot enough.  But,
given the physics involved, the only possibilities I can think of are:
1 - No seal between the upper and lower pots.  But, if this were the
case, the water wouldn't make the trip north at all.  I suppose it
could be a faulty seal or some contamination on it (like a piece of
tape or something) that makes it just a little leaky, but I seriously
doubt it.
2 - Lack of pre-heating the water.  But you're doing this already, so
that's out.  Just to make sure, though:  Are you letting the water
come to a boil before putting it in the Yama?  Then immediately
putting the burner under it?
3 - Not enough heat under the carafe.  Since you're using the Yama,
you're using your own stove for the heat source.  Tom, in his Yama
instructions  -http://www.sweetmarias.com/brewing.inst.yama.html-
says the trip north starts in 15 seconds, but he doesn't say how long
it takes to complete.  In any case, it shouldn't take longer than
about 3 minutes.  That's why he says you may want to leave the burner
on for 30 seconds or so after all the water is up.  Plus, in further
increases the vacuum in the carafe.  So, what kind of stove are you
using? What setting? I think you need to turn the heat up a bit. (Make
sure you're using the little wire grid if it's an electric stove.)
This seems to be about the only possibility left.
Mark C.
On Thursday, December 5, 2002, 6:33:32 AM, Wendy Sarrett wrote:
WS> Thanks Marc,
WS> Actually I did preheat the water.  The time was the time for all the
WS> water to get up there, not for it to start.  What I noticed is it did
WS> the first two lines of water (from 5 to 3) very slowly (most of the
WS> 20-25 minutes) and then quickly dropped.  Does this make sence?
WS> Wendy
WS>

5) From: Wendy Sarrett
Yes, I am using an electric stove and did use the wire grid.  What I'm
thinking is perhaps initially I didn't have the heat on the stove up
high enough...it seemed to speed up once I upped it.  Yama actually
suggests medium but I started at low (as per Tom's instructions) and
when things were going real slow I upped it to medium/low.   I don't
think there's any problem with the seal, it seemed pretty snug.  
Oh, on a related note, I put the filter thing in water in the fridge
when I was done washing it as described in some of the forums on
coffeegeek.com.  They say it prevents oils on the filter from going
rancid.
Wendy

6) From: EuropaChris
Hi, Wendy.  
I've been using a Yama for almost 2 years now.  I use the wire grid on a regular electric stove.  I set the heat to Med. and stick a thermometer in the water when I put it on.  I then go shave, get dressed, etc.  By the time I'm ready (15-20 min.) the water is 190F to 200F.  I grind my coffee, dump it in, put on the top globe, and away we go.  The water goes up in a few minutes.  I let it bubble for 1 min. and take it off the heat.  Yummy!
The filter gets rinsed in HOT water after each use and stored in the fridge in water.  I clean it with boiling water and OxyClean every week.  I'm still on the original filter that came with the brewer, and it looks new yet after cleaning.
Chris
Wendy Sarrett  wrote:
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7) From: Wendy Sarrett
Thanks Chris,
I'll have to try that. It would be nice if I can get the routine
efficent enough that I can use it as a workday brewer, not just night
and weekends.
Do you use the top cover for anything other than a stand for the top
globe?  The pix on the box had it being used as a cover for the top
globe when the coffee was brewing but the instructions didn't show that.
Also do you do the boiling water and oxyclean on the filter assembly
(not just the cloth filter I assume?) as two separate steps or are you
talking about soaking the thing in boiling water with oxyclean?  I did
do the fridge thing with the filter part (the entire filter assembly,
not just the piece of cloth) as I read that on coffeegeek (It's not
spelled out on either the Yama instructions or the tip sheet.)
Thanks!
Wendy

8) From: Chris Beck
Wendy Sarrett wrote:
<Snip>
Nope.
<Snip>
I take the whole filter assembly and dunk it into a glass measuring cup 
with boiling hot water and a half scoop (yeah, a lot) of OxyClean.  It 
fizzes and fizzes, and gradually turns white as the OxyClean eats all 
the coffee goo.  I let it soak 15 minutes or so or until it's good and 
white.  The cloth has never been off the filter holder yet.  I've got 
several spares, but haven't needed them yet.
I find using the Yama as convenient as a drip brewer.  I just have to 
remember to start the water on the stove in the lower pot right after I 
get up so it's ready when I'm done getting dressed.  Works great.
I still prefer the glass filter of my Cona D or the 'Dutch' ceramic 
filter on my Vaculator for flavor, but for convenience, the Yama is a 
great brewer.
Chris
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9) From: Garrik
Why not use the Cona filter on the Yama?  I use a glass Cory rod in my Yama
all the time.  Works like a champ.
-Garrik

10) From: Wendy Sarrett
Thanks Chris and Garrik,
I'll have to try the oxyclean and look into the Cona filter.
Wendy
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11) From: Chris Beck
I've got a Cory rod, but somehow it just doesn't jive with my Yama.  I 
get a lot of stalling, and I have a Rocky, which gives a very dustless 
grind.  The Cona never has a problem, and it's filter doesn't work with 
the Yama, either.  Hmmm, haven't tried the 'Dutch' Vaculator filter, tho...
Chris
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12) From: Mark A. Chalkley
The Vaculator sure works well with a Hario, I can vouch for that.
Mark C.
On Thursday, December 5, 2002, 8:35:42 PM, Chris Beck wrote:
CB> I've got a Cory rod, but somehow it just doesn't jive with my Yama.  I 
CB> get a lot of stalling, and I have a Rocky, which gives a very dustless 
CB> grind.  The Cona never has a problem, and it's filter doesn't work with 
CB> the Yama, either.  Hmmm, haven't tried the 'Dutch' Vaculator filter, tho...
CB> Chris
CB> Garrik wrote:
<Snip>
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13) From: Barkan, Jason
Ok, a question for all you Yama (and vacum) users -- 
do you have a residue of water left in the bottom pot after the trip =
north?
I asked Maria's about this and they thought it was normal and that the
brewed coffee was overstrength and would mix with the bottom water to
produce a good cup.
still, I wouldn't mix hot water with brewed coffee under normal
circumstances (Cafe Americano aside) and it seems bizarre to do so
especially when the upper pot doesn't hold espresso.
I have tried putting my Yama on high heat but there is always a level =
of
water that just doesn't get pushed up.  I normally end up removing the =
upper
bowl before the coffee has dropped and placing it above a separate =
container
to filter down via gravity.  
after you have stopped clutching your sides in laughter could you offer =
any
advice to this frustrated coffee addict (ahem 'enthusiast')?
Jason B

14) From: John Abbott
Jason,
	YEP!! It is designed to leave a small amount below. I don't know but have
always guessed that it had something to do with the reverse vacuum to pull
it back to the bottom.  I have a Cona vacuum pot and it leaves about 2
ounces in the bottom.
John - in unbelievably cold Texas!

15) From: EuropaChris
"Barkan, Jason"  wrote:
<Snip>
Perfectly normal and pots vary in the amount of water they leave.  My Cona D is pretty good, the Yama leaves a bit more, and my Vaculator leaves quite a bit.  The C30A Coffeemaster leaves none, and incidentally makes the least satisfying coffee out of all.
<Snip>
Chris
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16) From: Andrew Thomas
--- "Barkan, Jason"  wrote:
<Snip>
Maria is right. Some water MUST remain below. If the lower pot boiled dry, it would not be pretty. Don't ask me how I know this.
<Snip>
It is physically impossible for the water that is below the bottom end of the syphon tube to be drawn up. It does seem counterintuitive to mix the brewed coffee with water, but it is designed to work that way. If you have the right ratio of ground coffee to water--according to your taste--the finished product should come out at the proper strength.
<Snip>
Why do you do this? If the process stalls and the brewed coffee won't descend, it usually means the filter is clogged because of a too-fine grind.
<Snip>
Good luck. It is really easy once you get the gist.
Andy
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17) From: Barkan, Jason
Thanks for your responses John, EuropaChris, Andrew.  I'm going to give it a
try.  It definitely goes against the grain, aka the skydiving catchphrase
"why would you jump out of a perfectly good aircraft?"  in this case "why
would you water down perfectly good coffee"?  
but OK, I will give it a shot.
Andrew, re your question below ...
<Snip>
upper
<Snip>
container
<Snip>
<Snip>
descend, it usually means the filter is >clogged because of a too-fine
grind.
.... so that I can extract the undiluted brewed coffee before it falls down
and mixes with the water.  For the benefit of the many scientists/engineers
on this board I will describe this process more fully:
Jason's 3 Stooges Method of Yama Brewing
Equipment:
	2 potholders
	1 extra glass coffee pot (empty)
	1 conventional gas oven
	1 drip cone 
	1 drip filter 
	1 roll paper towels, double-ply
Instructions:
	Brew a fresh batch of coffee in your vacuum brewer until the 'trip
north' has finished.  Place a potholder in each hand.  Gently attempt to
uncork the vacum-sealed top bowl without scalding yourself with burning
coffee or standing too near to the flame (still lit so that vacum doesn't
start pulling the brewed coffee down).  Quickly transfer top Yama bowl over
to empty coffee pot, dousing oven's pilot light with spillage from Yama
glass tube.  Remove potholders.  Watch disheartedly as Yama top bowl refuses
to drain due to lack of vacum.  Dejectedly place a paper filter into drip
cone, put potholders back on.  Using sleight-of-hand, switch the Yama top
bowl with the drip cone without burning your hands or spilling too much
coffee, then tip the Yama bowl upside down to pour grinds and brewed
contents into the cona filter.  Coat the entire area liberally with paper
towels, enjoy your fresh (everextracted) coffee.

18) From: Marchiori, Alan
I thought I'd add my 2 cents since the Yama is my method of choice.
Anything I say here is my opinion and should not be confused for fact (I do
appreciate corrections, however)
- When the water is pulled down through the grounds it is actually forced
through the grounds by the surrounding air pressure.  I've always related
this to sort of a weak espresso effect, where the water is again forced
through the grounds, only with much less pressure.  I figure this is (one
reason) why vacuum brewed coffee tastes better.  So by not allowing the
vacuum to pull the water back through the grounds you are really in effect
just getting drip style coffee made with a vacuum brewer.  
- I think someone at some point or another suggested if the water in the
bottom is really bothering you all you have to do is put something in the
bottom container before you start that will displace some of the water.  I
believe the suggestion was to put marbles in the bottom.  Now they will take
up most of the space at the bottom.  Just make sure you don't drink a
marble, or break the glass with them.
But personally the water at the bottom doesn't bother me.
Alan...

19) From: Wendy Sarrett
That's perfectly normal according to what I read.
Wendy

20) From: Garrik
<Snip>
Exactly correct.  The whole concept behind the vac was to allow a finer
grind to be used to brew coffee.  My vac grind is almost as fine as my
espresso grind.  When you have a consistent grinder, the vac still pulls the
water through pretty quickly.
<Snip>
take
<Snip>
When you figure out how much grounds to put in the vac, simply use the total
volume of water to calculate the grounds required.  That way, when the
brewing happens, it will be stronger than your normal brew, but will dilute
to your "normal" strength after kickdown.
As someone else mentioned, the water at the bottom cannot be completely
emptied out (at least not initially).  The reason the water flows up the
tube is that steam takes up more space than water.  As the water converts to
steam, it raises the pressure in the bottom pot until it has enough pressure
to push the water all the way up the tube.  Once the water level gets below
the bottom of the tube, the steam goes directly up the tube.  The steam
causes the top pot to froth.  Some people mistake this for boiling in the
top pot, but it's just being sloshed around by the steam.
If you leave the pot to boil for too long, you may eventually boil off all
the water in the bottom pot.  The problem with this is that the water
boiling off absorbs all the heat generated by the stove, keeping the glass
cool (this is similar to boiling water in a paper tray on the campfire, if
anyone's ever done that),  Once the water is gone, the temperature of the
glass rises sharply.  Depending on the type of glass, it will either
fracture or shatter.  In any case, you'll have scalding hot water and glass
all over the place.  Not to mention a wasted batch of coffee.
So the water that gets left behind is your friend.  Adjust your measured
coffee to compensate, and don't try to short circuit the pot.
One last point- most people agree that the vac pot works best when you make
a full pot.  Keep that in mind if you're having trouble.
-Garrik
<Snip>
a
<Snip>
scientists/engineers
<Snip>
over
<Snip>
refuses
<Snip>
north?
<Snip>
any
<Snip>
in
<Snip>
dump
<Snip>
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21) From: David Westebbe
<Snip>
<Snip>
Me too.  I will soon be getting some antique cloth filters specifically
designed for my ancient Sunbeam (I won some on eBay) but in the meantime
I've been using cheesecloth and made my own filter.  It works great.  Much
better than the canvas Yama filter I tried, which tended to clog.
If I use the cheesecloth filter, I can grind the coffee very fine - almost
as fine as I do for 'spresso, about 1 or 2 clicks above the portafilter
symbol on my grinder.
If the Sunbeam brand filters turn out to clog as easily as the Yamas, I'm
going to try going to JoAnn Fabrics to see what I can get as an alternative.
My guess is that I will be able to find some kind of perfect fabric, and
will save a lot of money if I cut them myself.
The other alternative I've been thinking about is to just use regular
sterile gauze pads from the drugstore.  The 4 inch size would be fine, and
if they make a 3 inch size, they would be perfect.
I'm not really familiar with the parameters of what makes for a good/poor
filter, but so far it seems like the loose mesh of the cheesecloth, in
multiple layers, works better and clogs much less than the single tightly
woven heavy canvas style.
But all of 'em are a PITA.  Since I started up with the vacpot, I understand
why those 1960's housewives welcomed the easy-to-clean auto-drip pots!
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22) From: Chris Beck
I went to Wal-Mart and bought 100% cotton diaper flannel.  It's fuzzy on 
one side and very similar to the original filters.  It works really well 
with my C30A, and is really cheap.
Chris
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23) From: Angelo
         For  Hario/Yama/Silex/Bodum brewing, you can use regular drip 
filters wrapped around the metal disk. You might have to cut them a bit if 
they hang too far down the spring. I find that the Melitta micropore 
filters are the best. These are disposable and cheap, as they can be reused 
a couple of times. There is a slight decrease in the flavor oils, and the 
drink tends to taste "drip-ier".
         Another choice of filter, for those who do not wish to bother with 
cloth filters, would be the filter which comes with the Nicro SS knock-off 
brewer from Foodservicdirect. I think it's around $6. This works well in 
most brewers, although the spring may be a bit long for some pots. My 
workaround for this is to pull the spring and wedge the bottom of the 
"funnel" into the coils of the spring...You'll see what i mean if you get one.
Ciao,
Angelo
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24) From: David Westebbe
<Snip>
That sounds like it would be pretty much perfect.
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25) From: Linda Scott
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David Westebbe" 

26) From: David Westebbe
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27) From: Angelo
Linda,
Which brewer are you using ? Do you find that you get much sediment coming 
through the hole?
It seems that if I wanted to make cloth filters for the Hario/Yama, I would 
have to make a drawstring for it (a definite PITA). Otherwise, in order to 
fit the spring through, the hole might be too large, thereby allowing too 
much grit through.
I use paper filters now, because I can just wrap them over and under the 
disk. When wet, the paper forms to the holder whereas the cloth will not 
and I would have to somehow  tie the bottom of the cloth around the 
spring...Too much work :-)
Angelo
<Snip>
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