The Hario Deco is a quality piece of glassware that looks great sitting on your kitchen counter. Cup quality is excellent. It has a holder for the funnel and the lower bowl, which makes me more confident while cleaning it. If you don't like the idea of using paper filters, you can use a cory glass filter rod with it.
Negative Product Points
Clean-up makes morning use difficult. Like most other vac pots, it is fragile. The cup capacity is small. I have the 5-cup, which is just enought for 2 people to have one large mug each. The included alcohol burner is a bit under powered, but it can be replaced with a higher powered one.
I had been wanting a vac pot ever since I saw them on the sweetmarias website in late October, 2002. After reading and researching, I had decided on the Hario Nouveau. After finding a great price on the Deco, and decided it was basically the same as the Nouveau, and bought it instead.
Like many vac pots, the Deco consists of two glass bowls, an airtight gasket between them, a heat source, a filter and a stand. The upper bowl (funnel) holds ground coffee, the lower bowl holds water. As the water in the lower chamber approaches boiling, an increase in pressure forces it into the upper chamber to mix with the grind. After letting the coffee infuse for about 2 minutes, you remove remove the heat. The decrease in temperature in the lower bowl causes a drop in pressure in the lower bowl. The pressure difference causes the brewed coffee in the funnel to be forced through the filter, and back into the lower bowl, leaving the ground coffee in the upper bowl. (sorry for the physics stuff, but I am a science teacher, and I could not resist.) This process of heating the water insures that the coffee infuses at the optimal temperature of around 200 degrees F. You can use the included burner to heat the water, or you can start the water heating on the stove in a kettle, and just use the burner to give it that last bit of energy to force it up to the ground coffee. I recommend the latter if you don't want to wait at least 15 minutes for the water to heat. I use a fondue pot alcohol burner instead of the included burner. Fuel is cheap, about $1.99 for a quart of denatured alcolhol at Ace Hardware. www.hariousa.com sells a butane burner that fits under the Deco, and speeds the time it takes for the water to get pushed into the upper chamber.
After getting my Deco, I realized that it has some features that the Nouveau does not have. The arm on the stand that holds the lower bowl has a hole in it that allows the funnel to be stored after brewing is complete. Below this hole, there is a small "divot" or depression in the base that catches the few drops of coffee that drip of the funnel stem and chain. The lid to the funnel can be placed on the counter and used as a stand for the lower bowl. It has three rubber nubs that hold the bowl very nicely.
I normally make pot a night. I will make a 3 cup brew if I am the only one drinking, or a 5 cup if I am sharing. 3 cups is just enough to fill a travel mug.
The brew process is obviously a little more involved than other methods, but I do not mind. It is part of the ritual. The Deco is relativly portable. I will often put cold water in it just before dinner, light the burner after I have started eating, and the water will be just the right temperature to the the funnel on at the end of dinner. There is nothing like fresh vac brewed coffee to accompany dessert.
Clean-up is not as bad as many have said. I use a cory filter rod, so I just rinse the whole thing, and I am done, which takes about a minute or two. I don't even use soap everytime, just a good scrub with a baby bottle brush. The lid that acts as stand for the lower bowl comes in handy while cleaning.
Compared to other methods of infusion brewing I have used, the Deco gives a fuller, richer cup. Much better than drip, and even a bit better than a press pot in cup quality. If you don't concider the 5-cup size to small and the $70 dollar price to high, then the Deco is the right choice for you.
I found my Deco as a "Buy it now" on ebay for $59.00. I have looked for the same deal since, and seen if for $62.00. It is also available from www.hariousa.com for $70.00, last time I checked.
Three Month Followup
I still love this device. Make such rich coffee, that I use it almost exclusivly not (when I am not practicing on my recently purchased Audrey). I have a new grinder now, and the kick-down time is much faster with the higher quality grind. I have found that a baby bottle brush is one of the best tools out there for cleaning it.