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the detailed review - hario nouveau review
Hario Nouveau Review - Detailed Review, Part One
Introduction | Overview | Initial Comments | Detailed Review, Pt.1 | Detailed Review, Pt.2 | Conclusion
Hario Closeup

Introduction
I am an avid vacuum brewer collector, and although I only brewed my first vac pot coffee a few years ago, I now over 35 different models and I have used all but a couple of them. I have also done extensive research into the history of vacuum brewing, and these factors give me a good basis for reviewing a vacuum brewer.

I own several vacpots from Asia - brewers made by Tayli (Japanese), Yama (Taiwanese), and Hario (Japanese). When testing the Hario, I was putting it up against the other "small volume" brewers in my collection. These include the Yama and Tayli, but also a Silex 4 cup model, and a Cory 6 cup model, to name a few.

I have used the Hario extensively for one month (ed.note: a 1 year followup is at the bottom of Detailed Review, Part Two), brewing more than 30 batches of coffee. Most were consumed by yours truly. :-) My wife, a non-coffee drinker who enjoys my coffee (go figure) has tried a few cups and shared her comments with me, and two of our firends also helped in the testing and note taking. I brewed the following beans (and roast types) in the unit: Espresso Monkey Blend, Full City aggressive (from Sweet Marias); Smithfarms Kona Prime, Full City; Yemen Mocha Rimy, Light Dark roast (from SM), Maui Kaanapali Mocha, Full City (from SM).

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Close up view of the Hario alcohol stove, with rubber stopper. This setup effectively prevents any alcohol evaporation during non-use.
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Stove without rubber stopper. Note the copper wires, the exit holes for the fuel jets, and the overall workmanship.

Form and Function
As I stated on the first page, the Hario Nouveau is easily the best looking and best designed vacuum brewer I own. I believe this model to be the current highpoint of design and function in double globe vacuum brewer designs currently available today. The materials are first rate, from a black metal base and chromed stand, to high quality plastics (that don't look like plastics) and quality glass. The rubber gasket is also a piece of superior engineering, very supple, and very complex.

But let me start from the bottom up when describing this device. The base is circular, is made of heavily painted metal, and has a hole in the middle for Japanese style built in table burners for using in lieu of the supplied alcohol lamp. Note, this does not mean it will work with western style gas stoves. The hole is approximately 2 inches in diameter, much too small for most of them.

The supplied alcohol stove fits perfectly into the base, and is wickless - it uses a hollow copper pipe to draw up the alcohol, and releases jets through two tiny holes near the top of the unit. More design smarts: the burner is supplied with a rubber stopper that fits in the copper tubing, which blocks the jet holes, and prevents a common problem with cloth wick alcohol burners - it stops the evaporation of the alcohol! The top assembly of the burner also features a rubber gasket that helps complete this air tight seal. Smart!

The chrome stand features a plastic handle midway up, and like all the plastic on this device, it doesn't feel or look like plastic. I've seen carbon fibre material, and it looks more like that than it does plastic. Nice touch, and no pennies pinched at all. As you move up the assembly, you get to the bracket where the bottom globe and handle fit into place. Here's where more design smarts come into play.

The bracket and handle on the bottom globe has 4 extruding notches built in. They are designed so that you can easily remove and place the bottom globe into the stand, but only if you insert it at a 20 to 30 degree or greater angle. When the globe is sitting on the stand flat, you cannot remove the globe, nor can it accidently be knocked loose (unless you knock the whole unit over). Ingenious design, and by far the best one I've seen in a stand / vac pot combo. The Cona Vac Pots feature a similar design (although implemented slightly differently), but none of the other Harios feature this.  Those other Hario units and other Japanese units all seem to feature a locking clamp design that requires you to lift the entire stand / vac pot assembly to pour your coffee.

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Laid flat, the bottom globe can't be accidently knocked off the stand, unless you tip it over.
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To remove, simply raise 30 degrees or so. Note the notches that hold it in place when horizontal.

The handle design is art nouveau, and while it looks good, ergonomics are not a strong point. This is not a major concern for me, but judging by the complaints I've seen regarding the Bodum Santos' handle, I guess it could be a major problem for others. I found it was fine for what it was supposed to do.

The rubber gasket that seals the top glass section to the bottom is very well designed. It features ribs and a complex design pattern that result in a gasket that is very easy to insert and remove, even after brewing. It does all this yet keeps a nice tight seal during brewing, which is what it supposed to do.

The top glass assembly is tapered, with a bulge at the bottom. When I saw this on the Internet and on the shelf at the store, I thought, "hrmm, nice lines - they got artistic with it", but it turns out it is more than that. The bulge actually helps to agitate the coffee and water while the unit is brewing. You can see it happen in real time when using the unit. I still stir my coffee as the top starts to fill up, but you really can get away without stirring because this design helps agitation. Smart!

The filter, as I wrote on the front page, is a paper / plastic / metal combo, and I'm not a fan of paper filters - they don't let enough of the essential oils pass back down into the finished coffee, IMO. Again though, the design of this filter assembly is first rate - the bottom disk is perforated, and features spokes on the underside to help in tightening the assembly. The top disk is spoked, and features teeth on the outer edge. When you lock down the filter, the teeth grip onto the paper, which in turn presses up against the glass wall very tightly. It does the job, and if you don't mind paper as much as I do, you'll be impressed.

The top cover doubles as a siphon stand. You can leave it off during brewing or put it on, your choice - leaving it on will prevent any possible coffee splashing, and helps retain some heat in the top assembly. Just like the handle, the material is plastic but you wouldn't guess it from first looks. A dull matt black, it also features an interesting, heavy duty design that was built for looks and function.

Next Page...

Introduction | Overview | Initial Comments | Detailed Review, Pt.1 | Detailed Review, Pt.2 | Conclusion
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Detailed Review Sections
Arrow 1. Introduction
Aarow 2. Overview
Aarow 3. Initial Comments
Arrow 4. Detailed Review, Pt.1
Aarow 5. Detailed Review, Pt.2
Aarow 6. Conclusion
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