Beautiful and functional, makes perfect coffee for two in about 20 minutes.
Positive Product Points
Beautiful presentation and perfect coffee! The design is smart and elegant. The glass is extremely durable. The five-cup (500 ml) size is perfect for one coffee drinker, or more if you like tiny cups. Well worth the price.
Negative Product Points
Paper/cloth filters should be replaced by a glass rod strainer (check for Cory filter rods on ebay, around $5). Plastic handle on pot looks/feels a bit cheap; a chrome/enamel combination would look much sharper. These are minor criticisms. Overall, the construction is solid and very attractive.
I have been collecting vacuum brewers for about three years now. The Hario Deco coffee syphon is the most beautiful piece of coffee equipment I have ever owned. It makes perfect coffee every time. The Hario Deco is functional art that belongs on the table of every self-respecting coffee fanatic.
I purchased the 5-cup model, which yields about 500 ml (a little over a pint) of very strong, very hot coffee. I have found that this is the perfect amount for me to sit and savor by myself over the course of about half an hour. If I am sharing with a friend, we can each have a decent-sized cup (about 10 oz.) and brew a second pot for refills. By the time we finish the first pot, the second one is ready to go. It requires a little bit more effort, but this way the second cup is as fresh and hot as the first. Well worth it.
I have brewed dozens of pots with my Hario already, and it performs consistently well. I use a medium-fine grind, about the consistency of cornmeal. After the water boils, I allow 45-60 seconds steeping time, and the "kickdown" generally takes about 1-2 minutes. I have not had any problems with the Hario "stalling" midway, as is common with many of my vintage vacuum brewers.
Using a Cory filter rod, there is very little sediment. The globe-shaped pot does a good job of holding the few stray particles back to the last 5-10 ml. With a paper filter, of course, there is no sediment at all, but the resulting brew does lose some depth and body.
The accompanying alcohol burner works just fine for me. Fueled with denatured alcohol from the hardware store ($2.79/quart), the alcohol lamp burns with a beautiful golden flame. The odor is almost undetectable and is not at all unpleasant. A full (600 ml) pot of cold water can be brought to brewing temperature in exactly 16 minutes. (This is really not too long to wait. If you are in a big hurry for your coffee, I would avoid vacuum brewers in general.)
I also purchased a butane microburner from Lee Valley Hardware. This is a cool toy, and its chrome/black design complements the Hario Deco very nicely. It will boil water in about half as much time as the alcohol burner. However, to make coffee with this thing, you need to crank the flame up pretty high. This burns a lot of fuel, shortening the burn time between refuelings to about 15 minutes, enough for maybe two pots. This doesn't make it very practical for everyday use. Overall, alcohol is cheaper and easier for me to deal with.
Cleanup takes about two minutes: a drop of detergent, a paper towel, and a little hot water do the job. Then the syphon goes back onto its stand, ready for its next use. Care should be taken when cleaning the coffee syphon, as this is when breakage is most likely to occur.
I love being able to set the Hario Deco on the coffee table and sit on my sofa while I wait for the coffee to brew. Watching it is almost hypnotic. The whole process carries with it a sense of ritual and romance. I am already considering a second one for my desk at work.
Great Glassware (Hario USA) is a wonderful company with excellent customer service. E-mails were answered promptly and courteously. Shipping took approximately 5 days from the time of order.
Three Month Followup
I still love my Hario. It has not disappointed me once. I even dropped the pot in the sink (soapy hands!) and it didn't break. I took it to work, and for several weeks I made two pots every day. However, I got lazy and started buying crappy coffee from the cafeteria. I'm not sure why. Convenient, the Hario ain't. However, it's worth owning even if you don't use it every day. Buy two.