What can you say about a coffee-maker that's dead? The vacuum method is still one of the best ways to make reliable coffee, but for those of us who wanted to flavor of vacuum brewed coffee combined with the convenience of an electric machine, there's nothing to write except obituaries. It was a good machine while it lasted -- but it didn't last, and there are no replacements, and that's the end of it.
Making really good coffee depends on a lot of things -- but in a pot, the key traits are brewing temperature and time. Because vacuum pots depend in large part on basic physics, they tend to be very reliable, at least near sea level. I suspect that if you live in Denver, water might boil at a low temperature and the system might not work, but as long as you're in an area where water boils around 100 degrees Celsius, the relationship between temperature and pressure will force the water from the lower section to the upper chamber and then draw it back down with just the right amount of heat loss to offer a near optimal cup of coffee. Combined with the convenience of an electric, with an automatic shut-off, this provides the best compromise between cost, quality and convenience or any brewing method. But the electric is important. There are other ways to make good coffee, but they require attention. A French Press is a typical example -- they make excellent coffee, but they require a certain amount of work. Even the stove top vacuum pot requires some attention, since you have to be around to turn down the heat or you've reinvented the percolator. You can get good coffee from an electric drip pot too, if you're willing to pay the price. The Bodum Santos electric was reasonably priced, and you could push the button and walk away.
But why go on? Bodum has discontinued electric vacuum pots, and there don't seem to be any alternatives on the market. Also, from my expeience, the machine was too delicate to survive. First the timer broke -- a minor inconvenience because I never used it, but then the carafe cover also broke, and it couldn't be replaced. The whole machine seemed fairly fragile, made of fairly thin plastic. the filter holders also seemed susceptible to breakage.
And that's the end of it. The electric vacuum pot was a great idea, combining the inherant quality of vacuum coffee with the simplicity of a simple switch -- but there are no more of them. If any manufacturer puts this type of put on the market again, try one -- the price should be a lot lower than a top rated electric drip pot, but the coffee will be comparable. It's a shame they've disappeared.