Updated Review: Makes the perfect cup coffee. This is one of the best purchases you can make and is a great value.
Positive Product Points
The Deco makes the best non-espresso cup of coffee ever. The coffee is perfectly clear (no grounds in coffee at all), smooth, and has no bitterness. It is very easy to use and clean-up. It comes with both cloth and paper filters to try--go with the cloth. It has a handy holder for the upper pot when done brewing with a nice catch basin underneath to catch dripping coffee from the filter chain. The handle on the lower pot has a comfortable angle for pouring coffee. It is a beautiful chrome and black work of art.
Negative Product Points
It takes a little longer to make a pot of coffee. The largest model only makes 5 European cups--an little over 2 American cups. The alcohol burner is slow--preheating the water in a tea kettle first helps. Get the butane burner for $42.
Updated Note: my ratings were/are based on using the updated Butane burner. My score on the Deco would be a 9.0 with the alcohol burner.
There are some coffees that are not optimal for espresso and some that work well for multiple coffee brewing methods. For these coffees the Hario Deco Vacuum pot brings out nuances and levels of flavor that you cannot find in any other way of brewing coffee. I have now given away my drip coffee maker and use my french press for making tea. However, I still make espresso with my new Pasqini Livia 90 (now using the Olympia Cremina)--I love my life. If you brew coffee with your vacuum pot the European way it is nearly as strong as stove top espresso and with no bitterness.
I recommend using the cloth filters over paper to maximize flavor and to have a crystal clear cup of coffee. After the filter is used a few times it becomes saturated with coffee oils and imparts no flavors on the coffee and because saturated will no longer absorb oils from the coffee robbing it if flavor. The paper filters give the coffee a funny flavor just like a drip coffee maker with a paper filter. Using a different filter for each coffee type is nice. The Cona glass rod filter probably is best for getting superior flavor, but it has a large learning curve and does leave some grounds. The Cory glass filter has almost no learning curve, gives the coffee more body, but leaves a lot of fine grounds. I also recommend preheating the water in a tea kettle and upgrading to the Butane burner. This greatly speeds up the coffee making process--a little longer than drip.
Note: After thoroughly rinsing off your cloth filter after each use, you should store your cloth filter in a sealed zip lock bag in the freezer between uses. This will keep the oils saturating the filter from going rancid.
Update Note: My procedure for obtaining an outstanding pot of coffee is to preheat the water in a tea kettle, pour it into the lower pot, turn on the butane burner, wait for the first signs of bubbles, and then place the upper pot into the lower pot. This will keep the brew temperature pretty close to 200 deg. F throughout the brew cycle. I then brew the coffee for 45 seconds to 1 minute depending on the coffee and whether I am using a cloth, glass, or Cory metal filter. I tend to get better results if I stir the slurry during the kick down. If you place the upper pot into the lower pot and then proceed to heat up the water, the water will begin to travel up the tube of the upper pot at about 160 deg F and start the brew process and that temperature. The water temperature barely gets to 190 deg F (+ or -) by the end of 1 Minute of brew cycle. This means that most of the brew cycle time is used getting up to 190 deg F and not brewing at the correct temperature range (200 deg F. + or - 5 deg.)
Updated Personal Note: I have found myself using my Cory Glass Rod Filter w/spring almost exclusively as I like the added richness and body. I recommend the glass rod with the spring because the brewing action of smaller vacuum pots (all the Hario vacuum pots are considered small) is more violent and the rod tends to bounce around more than larger pots letting grounds into the lower pot. The rod with the spring is designed to eliminate this.
Updated WARNING: be careful when you purchase a Cory Glass Filter. Make sure you get the Glass filter for coffee and not the one for tea. The one designed for tea will not allow the coffee to kick down at the end of the brew cycle unless ground really coarse. You will be stuck waiting for the coffee to completely cool before removing the upper pot. The rods have a textured surface on the portion of the rod that comes in contact with the surface of the upper pot. The glass coffee filters have a rougher surface than the glass tea filters. Below are the information (U.S. Patent numbers and other numbers and lettering) off of my Cory Glass Rods to aid you in determining if you have a coffee rod or a tea rod. I believe the number printed on one side at the top of the rod determines the roughness of the texture on the rod. Below you will see that the tea rod has the number 8 and the two coffee rods have the numbers 20 and 25 respectively. The number 25 rod as the roughest surface and the number 8 rod the smoothest surface.
Cory Glass Rod with spring for coffee -- U.S. PAT.1927287 and U.S. PAT.2370674 There is the number 20 at the top of one side. Cory Glass Rod (no spring) for coffee -- U.S. PAT.1927287 Labeled "Cory Filter Rod" and has the number 25 at the top of one side. Cory Glass Rod (no spring) for tea -- U.S. PAT.1927287 Labeled "Cory Filter Rod" and has the number 8 at the top of one side.
The stand is stable and attractive. There is a convenient holder for the upper pot built into the handle for when the brewing process is over. There is also a nice little basin under it to catch the coffee that drips from it in the base. The lid doubles as a holder for the lower pot. It has three little rubber supports to hold the pot securely.
The glass pots are a very attractive. The lower pot has graduation lines denoting 3, 4, and 5 cups. The upper pot's wedge shape and bulge at the bottom does a really good job of keeping the coffee slurry moving around for a perfect extraction. The water temp is kept at a perfect and uniform temp throughout the entire coffee extraction and all the grounds are brewed equally.
Also, "the better the grinder the better the coffee." NO blade grinders please. When I went from my $50 Capresso 551 to my $150 KitchenAid A-9 (my wife picked it out because it is pretty) my cup quality and strength more than doubled with less bitterness--much to my surprise. At that price range I would have picked the Solis Maestro Plus. Oh well, at least it worked good. I have now replaced it with a Gaggia MDF on sale for $150 at Whole Latte Love. One word describes this grinder "WOW." Unless you can afford the Rancillio Rocky for $260 or the Mazzer Mini for $365 don't bother looking any further than this grinder.
Update Note: I have since upgraded from my Gaggia MDF to an Anfim Best which has exceeded my expectations. I have also added the Solis Maestro Plus for making vacuum pot coffee or to take with me with my Gaggia Factory when I travel. The Maestro combined with the Deco makes for a truly outstanding pot of coffee.
I made my purchase directly from Hario USA in California--http://www.hariousa.com. They shipped it out quickly and it arrived in about a week. That week seemed much longer than normal.
Three Month Followup
Still makes the best pot of coffee I have ever had.
One Year Followup
Still makes the best pot of coffee I have ever had.