Since I bought this coffee maker I've been making coffee with it everyday on my gas stovetop. I was previously using a Cory Gasketless (but it was too big for my requirements) and a Baby Silex, which worked pretty well but which I didn't dare to place on gas stovetop, so I only used it with an electric stove.
I just needed a convenient sized vaccuum coffee maker which could be safely placed on the stovetop so I kept searching for it on eBay USA and UK. This was my only choice, since I live in Spain and this kind of gadgets are absolutely unknown here (I bet there are no other vaccuum coffee makers here other than mine!)
This coffee maker came unused with its original box. The front of the box reads: "Cona Coffee Maker. Junior Kitchen Model. Capacity 1 pint (0.56 litres) approx. For use direct on any type of domestic cooker". There is a big photograph that shows it in action over a gas stovetop: just what I wanted. Of course it can be used on electric stovetops too, judging by the box, but I never did until now.
One of the best features of this coffee maker is that the glass cylinder for the water to come up (and the coffee to come down...) is quite long. This means it reachs the water even if there is not much of it, I mean you can brew a full coffee maker, yes, but you can also brew one cup of coffee if you want: the water will go up the same. Of course some of it must alway remain in the bottom half, but it's never going to be so much as with the Cory or the Silex models, so your coffee is going to be less diluted, therefore with a better taste.
To prepare coffee with this coffee maker I follow these steps:
1.Before filling the bottom part with the water it's best to heat it separately; this way it will take less time to heat within the glass. I really wouldn't mind to heat it directly in the glass, but the instructions say put HOT water in it so I follow them strictly for fear the glass could break if I should put cold water in it and then I heat it. I guess this would not happen (It didn't happen with my other glass coffee makers)
but I don't want to try just in case.
When you fill the bottom part you must take care all the water goes inside and not a drop spills out. If you heat glass which is wet on the outside I understand it can break. So I always wip it with a cloth before placing it on the flames.
- While the bottom part is heating (regulate the stove to medium heat) prepare the top part. Place it carefully on the Cona black plastic stand, put the glass filter in place and then put it the desired amount of ground coffee.
3.When you see small bubbles in the bottom part adjust the top part to it. This Cona has a rubber gasket and to seal the parts you must give it a clockwise turn, just a quarter. It's very easy and as soon as you do this you'll see the water ascending. If you assemble the parts when the water is boiling you'll see it ascending more abruptly, sometimes this resulting in a slight displacing of the filter, which sends some grounds down and makes the bottom water brownish. This doesn't affect the quality of the coffee but if you want to keep your water pristine until the "trip down" (especially if you have guests) assemble the parts when the water is just showing firsts signs of boiling, the little bubbles I was talking about.
- While the water is ascending I usually put a pan cover which roughly fits the top part on it to prevent some drops to go out and ruin my shiiiiny stovetop! :-)
- Let the coffee infuse for 1-3 minutes and then turn the heat off. In half a minute or a little more the coffee will go down and you'll have your drink ready. You must wait until all the coffee is down (watch for the grounds to be completely dry). Sometimes, very few times, the coffee seems not to want to go down so quickly. By any means don't attempt to unscrew the top part! Simply wait, a little more with patience and the process will be completed.
- If you want to disassemble the parts just after the coffee is prepared, use a cloth to protect your hand, since the top part will be still very hot. But if you can wait a couple of minutes you may not need to use the cloth and the coffee will be still perfectly hot. The unscrewed coffee maker works almost as a sort of thermos!
The cleaning of the coffee maker is a little tricky, but in no way exasperating or impossible! I had an experience with the Corys when I bought this coffee maker. The Cory's mouth is not very wide, but allowed me to insert my hand in it for scrubbing, but judging by the photograph of the Cona I assumed no hand and even no finger could be inserted in it! So I was prepared for a "brownish" bottom pot and even for not being able to display my Cona! But I just wanted good coffee and I didn't mind this. But I've find this not to be true: with a little of care the bottom of the Cona can be kept immaculate, as long as you clean it every time you use it, of course.
For cleaning my Cona regularly I use my (hand) dishwasher liquid mixed with white vinegar. This is a trick I learned some time ago and it works perfectly for glass andr china, in fact for all your everyday dishwashing: just mix your dishwasher liquid with vinegar, you can use up to half vinegar-half soap. It leaves the glass more transparent than with the soap only, and you don't need to rub so much when drying it with your cotton cloth. As for the Cona, I always let it dry on a rack, parts separated and upside down, and most of the time I don't even have to rub it with a cloth.
When I want to give it an extra cleaning, I add some baking soda to the sponge (just sprinkle liberally); sometimes I use BarKeepers Friend and it works wonders too.
I also follow a rutine for avoiding to break the Cona, since it's so difficult to buy one here in Spain. I've somehow automatised this routine:
- Take your Cona and put it on a surface free of other items.
- Dissassemble the parts. Put the top part on the plastic stand.
- Heat your water, fill the bottom part, place on stove.
- Fill the top part, still on stand, with coffee.
5.Assemble parts with a rotating movement.
- When coffee is ready, take the Cona out of the stove. Put it on the free, NOT COLD surface.
- Disassemble parts. Put the "dirty" top part on the plastic stand.
- Pour your coffee and enjoy it!
- if cleaning your coffee just after brewing (still very hot) use warm-hot water from your faucet. If you want to use cold water, let the Cona get cold before.
- For cleaning, clean parts separately. First clean the top part: put it below your faucet and let the water flow freely. Dry grounds will get wet and looser; then pull the glass filter out with care and finish cleaning it with the flowing water. BE VERY CAREFUL, DON'T EVEN LET THE GLASS FILTER TOUCH THE TOP PART!!!! I ONCE BROKE A CORY PART THIS WAY! CONA GLASS IS STURDY BUT GLASS BREAKS GLASS!!!! Also clean your Cona when there are no other kitchen items in the sink.
- Put the filter apart (secure it some place, don't let it roll free in the sink., where it could be forgotten and broken by collapsing with other kitchen items) and clean the top part, still with water from faucet. Watch the long glass tube, don't let it touch you sink. Help the grounds go down with your hand.
- Put the top part upside down on a rack. Again, don't use a rack which is crowded with kitchen items. Ideally, use a rack exclusively for you Cona. It deserves it!
- Clean the bottom part now. Let water go within it and then out of it until you see it almost clean. Pour in some washing liquid, or washing liquid with soda or vinegar, or BarKeepers Friend. Shake it vigorously,
covering the opening with your palm and TAKING CARE NOT TO CRASH THE GLASS AGAINST YOUR SINK OR FAUCET!!! Empty it by letting more water in and then letting them out repeatedly, until no soap is inside. Put it on rack too. BE CAREFUL, THE TOP PART MOUTH IS NARROW SO PLACE IT CAREFULLY ON THE RACK SO IT WON'T COLLAPSE!
- For drying the glass filter you can simply dry it now with a cloth and put it in a secure place, or insert it inside top bottom tube (since it's facing up now), or inside the plastic stand hole.
- Wash the plastic stand from time to time too; the inside receives some drops of coffee each time you put the "dirty" top part on it. Simply let some water from the faucet go inside, and then dry it upside down.
I hope to have made myself clear although English is not my mother tongue!