Reasonably priced unit which produces great results in coffee taste. A good choice for starters.
Positive Product Points
The Santos is easy to setup and use especially if you purchase it with the accessories option. The cleaning is a cinch with the special question mark (?) shaped brush accessory. It takes no longer to brew a coffee than the filter machines and the taste is superior. An advantage over the press-pot is that generally there are no stray grounds ending up in your cup. I do like its filter system as I believe that paper filters do remove some of the properties from the brew. The nice thing about this particular Vacpot is that one is not limited to a spirit lamp but can use it on the electric or gas range as well. Its current price makes it a good choice for a starter system
Negative Product Points
The system seems a bit fragile and removing the top after brewing is an exercise in delicate manouvering. I do not like the straight handle on the pot and would prefer a curved one instead.
I have owned a Santos for about 2 years. After experimentation I found the following works best for me.
1). I use a ratio of 7.5g coffee per 5-6 oz water. (That is 2 tblsp) 2). I grind the coffee 1 click on the fine side of medium, on my Solis 166. 3). I prefer to preheat water in my kettle. You don't have to do that but why not? I just want to speed the process up. 4). I measure out 4 - 8oz cups of the heated (read almost boiling) water and pour into the bottom half of the Santos. The Santos is actually designed to handle 8 6oz cups (48 fluid oz) but I rarely use that much. 5). My Moffat stove is turned to 4 out of 10 under the Bodum once I have put the water in it. - Never use high heat to speed things up. The vacuum doesn't seem to work so well if you do. 6). I then place the top half with the coffee on and give it a slight twist so that it seats properly. This is necessary to form a proper vacuum. 7). As the water is rising I give a bit of a stir with a plastic or wooden chopstick to ensure all the grounds are wet. 8) Once all the water has risen to the top I leave it for about 90 seconds. You will notice a bit of water still in the bottom half, this is normal and, in fact, required. If the bottom half was on the heating element and was dry, it would break! 9) Once the brewing time is complete,I either slide the whole thing over to a cooler part of the stove or I remove the unit and place it on a trivit. After a few seconds the coffee begins to descend. - It may not look like it is zipping down sometimes but it usually is. Just watch the level in the top drop. If, for some reason, the water transfer from the top to bottom does not complete then you will have to place the unit back on the burner, using medium-low heat and wait until it rises again. Once all the water has risen to the top remove the unit from heat immediately and it will begin to descend once more. Does this affect the taste of the coffee?. Probably; but not so much that you won't drink it and still think it is good. 10). When done I use an oven mitt to pull the top half off. - I pull gently and rock it a bit back and forth a bit to break the vacuum seal. The top half is not quite as fragile as it looks so this is quite safe and the chance of breaking it is small. Just don't overdo it.
That's it. This works best for my taste. You will find what is best for you.
Important! Do not skimp on coffee! It is better to have a bit too much coffee and too strong a brew because then, at least, you can water it down to suit your taste. If you do not use enough coffee, you risk either over-extracting or weak coffee. You can do nothing to improve it. That is why I measure. I also do shorter loads. I use 38g coffee for 3 8 oz cups water. It works fine. Remember to leave it burble in the top for the 90 seconds however when it is in the top.It needs the time. If you go over the time, it is not catastrophic and may even taste better. There are so many variables in brewing coffee that only experimentation will produce the results you like.
Alternative methods. - You can preheat the water in the bottom half instead of the kettle if you like, then once you see steam rising place the top half on and add the coffee grounds.
- or -
- You can put the whole thing together, coffee and all, and apply medium-low heat. I do this when I have guests. They are always fascinated by the show that our grandparents regared as commonplace not so long ago.
You'll have fun figuring what suits your taste best. It certainly is better than a press pot. Total time about 8 minutes or less. Put some into a thermos and off to work with it if you like. I also have used a Cory or Silex glass filter rod instead of the Bodum plastic filter and they work very well. I have rarely had problems with any of the filters choking, even the Bodum plastic filter.
To Clean. I scrape the grounds into a tin and use it for compost sometimes, otherwise into the garbage they go. Wash and that's it. I often rinse it clean and only use detergent once every 4 times. I do not want the rubber gasket to deteriorate from too much detergent. A neat trick is to invert the top half under a faucet placing the glass siphon tube directly underneath. When you turn the faucet on the water flows down the tube and quickly and evenly removes the grounds. Make sure that you clean the filter thoroughy, any stuck grounds or blocked channels will affect its performance. This is applicable to the Bodum filter as well as the glass filter rods
Considering the price of the Santos and the versatility in methods of applying heat, it is an excellent choice for a starter unit. Vacpot brewing is slightly less convenient than having a timed drip coffee maker but the results are worth it.
My experience in trying to deal with Bodum directly was not impressive. They have never responded to my emails nor phone calls. I prefer to deal with retailers who generally give excellent service.There are many on the internet who sell this product.