This filter cone is often given away, or sold for 10 - 15 dollars US, sometimes with a big ceramic mug. The mug I got was far too big and not dense enough to hold heat well. I have had my filter cone for about 12 years, due to lightness and small size have taken it camping, on the Apalacian trail, to Burning Man, and use it daily for my morning coffee.
I do worry that the plastic might have leached PVCs into my cup, esp when it was new. Of course most drip methods use masses of plastic in the brew basket. Have tried automatic Bunn, Mr. Coffee, and DeLongi. Most smaller (4 cup) volume drip machines produce better coffee than their larger versions. I think brew temperature and retention time is key.
Have seen a ceramic version of the filter cone on the Sweet Marias web site, but have not tried it. I have tried the Gold Filter cone method but found results less flavorful - perhaps due to low retention time in the basket. French Press seemed a bit "stewed" and muddy by comparison, however have experimented little to perfect this method. Very keen to give vac pot brewing a try.
A few hints:
Don t expose plastic cone to bleach -- it requires a good soak in sodium bicarbonate solution to remove bleach and old coffee odors. Usually a good rinse is all that is necessary however.
To brew a good cup absolutely requires the freshest roast you can get your hands on (smell the stuff before you buy it), and a good grinder. While a whirly blade makes okay coffee (used a Braun, then a Krupps for years before figuring this out), a burr grinder will vastly improve the deep roast flavors, the brightness, and eliminate the bitter rough edged quality uneven extraction can produce. That said; to brew.
Place number 2 unbleached filter in cone, and set kettle to boil (bottled drinking water makes a better tasting brew - although overly mineralized water can flatten out the taste).
Grind a scoop of coffee beans at the middle setting of your burr grinder (I use a Saeco MC2002).
To get a good rich robust cup without too much caffiene:
When water reaches boiling, pour a few ounces through your paper cone into mug to simultaneously warm the ceramic mug, and wash the paper filter clean of any bits, oils, papery flavors and impurities that might be lurking there.
Dump ground coffee into center of cone (rounded tablespoon per one cup).
Pour rinse water from cup, place filter cone back onto warm cup, Check the clock and wet down the coffee with about an ounce of hot (not quite boiling) water. Temperature is important to good extraction.
Wait 90 seconds as extraction begins, then pour about 2 ounces more hot (not quite boiling) water over the wet grounds. Allow this to trickle into your cup. Wait 30 - 60 seconds (watch the grounds drip dry) then put a final couple of ounces through.
The whole process should NOT exceed 6 minutes. Grind your coffee to get max flavor within this time limit. The 4 - 6 oz of coffee extracted might be a little strong, but the flavor should be marvellous. Too thin, or weak, grind finer, and/or increase water temp -- too rough/burned/harsh, grind coarser, and/or decrease water temp.
To dilute your perfect extract, add hot water directly to the cup -- DO NOT pour more water through the wet grounds after 6 minutes has elapsed. You will just spoil the taste and add a lot of caffiene.
It takes some attention to do this without multi tasking too much and messing up the timing etc. A nice light to medium roast Tarrazu is my favorite, brewed strong and cut with a tablespoon of melted-to-a-froth pure vanilla bean (egg free) ice cream. yum:)