This is my first experience with a vacuum pot of any sort, so you should take this review as an impression of vacuum pots in general, as well as the specifics qualities of the Yama pot. I’ll divide my review into subsections, to simplify:
Design: Vacuum pots are simple devices, and arguably, this is one of the things to like about them. The Yama has only 5 parts. Each is functional, and seemingly well designed and manufactured. The gasket sealing the upper and lower chambers is thick, pliable rubber, with two annular sealing rings. It provides a good, positive seal during positive pressure, and vacuum, and it is fairly easy to separate the upper and lower sections when brewing is complete. The glass upper and lower chambers are formed of thick, tempered glass. I was concerned that the pot might be overly fragile, but it seems quite robust. Check back to see my follow up in 3 months. It is slightly awkward to remove the upper chamber, some sort of ridge on the top would help. The lid is made of plastic, and doubles as a stand for the upper glass section-great for loading the coffee grounds. The filter element is composed of a cloth wrapped, periforated stainless steel disc. I like that it is reusable, and it does a great job of filtering out the fine dust from the coffee.
Ease of Use: Vacuum pots lose a little bit of ground here, compared to other brewing methods. The bottom line is that they are by definition slightly more involved than say, an automatic drip. I think of the vacuum pot as the manual transmission of coffee makers-more challenging than an automatic, but more rewarding as well. That said, I found the Yama far easier than I anticipated to use. Overall, it takes about the same amount of time to brew a cup of coffee as a drip-but you have to be watching it all of the time. I find the Yama is very forgiving-I can’t really screw up too much. One potential difficulty is the more or less fixed amount of coffee brewed. You are pretty much limited to brewing 2.5 standard 8 oz cups. That is the maximum, and minimum. While it is possible to brew less, I believe it will result in weak, diluted coffee. No matter how much coffee you brew, a fixed volume of water stays in the bottom chamber, below the level of the siphon tube. If you reduce the brewing volume, the relative amount “unbrewed” water increases, diluting the coffee. For me, 2 standard cups is perfect, and happens to be what I would brew-so I have no complaints. The Yama probably isn’t the appropriate tool for big dinner parties though.
Cleaning the pot is very simple. I rinse out both glass chambers and wipe down with a cloth.
The Coffee : Naturally, the brew quality is the most important factor, bar none. If the Yama didn’t make outstanding coffee, I would not waste my time, or yours. The Yama does not make good coffee. It makes fantastic coffee. I am amazed how this brewing device can reveal the flavour and body of a particular grind, without any of the bitterness I have come to expect from almost all brewing methods. This thing makes the smoothest, most enjoyable cup I have ever had. The coffee produced by the Yama is not nearly as strong as press pot, but it is more robust than most drip. It is probably most comparable to very good café Americano, only a little less strong. Best of all, it is really, really, easy to get repeatable good results.
The Wow factor: The vacuum pot is really entertaining to watch. You can show it off to your friends. They will covet it. I suspect it will get you more attention than any 1000 dollar expresso machine. It’s like the rock star of coffee makers. For 40 bucks, how can you afford not to have one?