Vacuum Coffee Brewers

On this page: the original Cona and the Yama stovetop brewer

We love vacuum brewing! It was a predominant infusion method early in the century, before paper coffee filters became widely popular. It takes a bit longer, but once you have tried it a couple times the process is fast and simple. And your incentive to use these devices will be clear: coffee with pronounced body and no sediment; very clean and crisp; a cup where flavors are dramatic and heightened in every respect. Delicate coffees (African coffees, central Americans...) are especially suited for vacuum brewing. Is vacuum brewing for everyone? No...vacuum brewing produces a very clean cup - and so some can find it weak. But one man's "clean" is another man's "weak"! If you like French press brewing, the clarity of this cup might seem thin to is a matter of preference. We have more tips on brewing on this page. For more, see our tip sheet for the Cona Vacuum Brewer, The Yama Vacuum Brewer, and Bodum's instructions for the Santos. Check out our new vacuum brewing pictorial

You can read more comments about using a vacuum pot to make coffee on the Sweet Maria's Forum.

Cona Vacuum Brewers

Cona Vacuum Brewer

This is the king of vacuum coffee brewers. We are one of a handful of coffee sources that offers Cona Vacuum Brewers. These are beautiful, elegant, and a bit scientific-looking; aficionados of these believe it's the ultimate brewing method. I think the results are remarkable ...I have never brewed a bad cup on the Cona. They are used in a handful of fine inns, B&B's and restaurants.

It's main features is that the coffee is entirely prepared in glass; there's no contact with metal or plastic components. Because it operates by a vacuum principle, coffee is always infused at the precisely correct temperature every time, and over-extraction is not possible. It's the brewing method for romantics, and is prepared at the table with heat provided by the spirit lamp.

Cona Coffee Brewer

click image for CONA sales booklet cover

Denatured alcohol must be used, and is widely available at hardware stores (in the solvents section) and camping/boating stores. The lamp does not ship with alcohol. We encourage you to purchase the largest 1 quart D size, but we do stock the 1.5 Pint "C" size now, for those who know they will never need the capacity of the D. Parts are available and in stock for the D, and custom-ordered for the C and B. Brewers are made in Britain and Germany, basically unchanged in 60 years.

Kona Vacuum Brewer

The Cona stand holds the funnel when coffee is ready to serve

We currently stock the largest Cona Size D, that brews 1 quart maximum/1.13 liters, in polished chromed cast steel, gold or silver chrome. We strongly recommend the D model: 2 pints is not that much coffee by American standards. The C size would be fine for preparing coffee for 1 person, or two if you prefer small cups of coffee. Something to consider: because of the design of the vacuum brewers, there is always a small amount of water that does not ascend to the top. This means that brewing less than the full capacity of the brewer makes more diluted coffee. Match the brewer capacity to the amount of coffee you think suits your needs! The D Size Cona is best for most folks, but if you consistently brew for one person, consider the C size.

Also check out the Cona Classic Size C -a unique traditional model of the Cona Brewer, exactly as they appeared in the early 1900s.

The prices you see are for the complete unit ...ready to brew, just add coffee, water and Denatured Alcohol for the Spirit Lamp. All parts are available. We have a new page with instructions for using your Cona Vacuum Brewer

Our Price
Ship Weight
Cona Size "D"
in Chrome
7 lbs*
Cona Size "D"
in Gold
7 lbs*
add to cart

Cona Size "C"
in Chrome

(medium 1.5 pint model)
7 lbs*
add to cart
Cona Size "C"
Classic Model
in Chrome

(medium 1.5 pint model)
7 lbs*
add to cart
*Shipping Restriction on Vacuum Brewers: No International Shipping.

Spare Parts for the Cona Size D from Sweet Maria's
Cona glass parts, like the brewers, are are not cheap.
The bowl does not include the handle- if you ever break this don't throw out the handle! Other parts for size B and C can be custom-ordered, just contact us.
Cona Drainer (the glass filter, one size fits all) Cona Size D Funnel (includes rubber seal) Cona Complete Spirit Lamp (fits all sizes)*Note-glass used is recycled - and so a bit greenish.

Cona Size D Bowl (includes rubber sleeve, but not the handle!)*

$27.50(+ .25 lb shipping)*
$65(+ 2 lbs shipping)*

$34 (+ 1 lb shipping)*

$55 (+ 2 lbs shipping)*
add to cart
add to cart
add to cart
add to cart
*Shipping Restriction on Cona Vacuum Brewers Parts: No International Shipping.

Yama Vacuum Brewers
The Yama Vacuum Brewer is a stovetop model that resembles the long-gone Silex and Cory glass models made in the U.S. for over 50 years. It is a utilitarian vacuum-syphon brewer that can stand up to daily use. Like other vacuum brewers the coffee that results from this maker has great body, without the sediment you get in a French press. It's capacity is 5 cups by Japanese standard (where the Yama is very popular). The total capacity is 20 oz. but you can really fill it to 22 Oz. It has a cloth filter that fits over the metal filter assembly (for packs of replacment filters, see below). The lid doubles as a stand for the funnel (top glass part), and it comes with a spare cloth filter and a burner wire grid for use on an electric stove. And like many things Japanese (and American) it is made in Taiwan. The brewer is easy to use. The rubber gasket between the top and the bottom -the flange on it makes the creation of an airtight seal (and the separation of top and bottom when the coffee is brewed) much easier. The 5 cup model is fine for 2 people, 3 in a pinch, 4 if you are using "polite cups" and 5 in times of great duress. The 8 cup model has more aesthetic, rounded glass parts. The box it comes in is a little amusing, a little cheesy ...but you are not buying a box, you are buying a very effective vacuum brewer. Check out our new vacuum brewing pictorial, and we also include a tip sheet to supplement their instructions (or in .pdf format).
You can also use a Cona glass filter rod in the 5 and 8 cup Yama brewer. Tom and I use the 5 cup brewer with the glass drainer to brew coffee at home on the weekends and it works well. ******We have heard from some folks that the glass drainer can get clogged and if the pressure is not released, it can cause the glass bowl to implode. Whenever you are brewing with the replacement glass drainer, be sure to watch the brewer, and if it stalls (i.e. the coffee does not pull down to the bowl), just wiggle the drainer to release the pressure. If it does not release - relight the flame on the bottom bowl, the increased temperature ought to equalize the pressure.*****

The new Yama 5 cup model

Yama 5 Cup Model

Yama Vacuum Brewer - 5 Cup (20 ounce) Model
$33 (+ 4 lbs. ship wt.)* add to cart

Yama Vacuum Brewer - 8 Cup (32 ounce) Model
$38 (+ 5 lbs. ship wt.)* add to cart

Yama 8 Cup Model

Yama 5 Cup TableTop Model

We have the Yama Tabletop Brewer in stock now, which is a copy of the old Cona Classic brewer from the early 20th century. The lower glass orb is fixed to the stand, and you lift the entire apparatus (sans the top "funnel") to serve coffee. It works well, with the main distinction between the Cona and Yama being the later uses the Yama cloth filter assembly. Please note that the glass filter drainer rod will not work in this model - the funnel is too narrow. The feel of the machine is also a bit cheaper - which is understandable - it is 1/4 the price of a Cona. This model is so named because you do not brew on a stovetop ... instead you use a lamp or burner to brew the coffee. As with all vacuum brewers, it is best to start the process with pre-heated water from an electric kettle. (You can use cold water - but the process takes longer.) The standard lamp the table top Yama comes with is an alcohol burner. It uses Denatured Alcohol, which is available from camping stores, or any hardware store (don't use any other fuel). We stock the Yama Butane Burner, which is a very convenient upgrade for this brewer. This model is only available in a 5 cup (20 ounce) size.

Yama Tabletop Brewer with Stand, Lamp
(5 Cup (20 ounce) Capacity)
$52 (+ 5 lbs. ship wt.)* add to cart

Handle detail

Top and bottom separated, with funnel holder.

With butane burner upgrade

Yama Butane Burner - Back in Stock

We have the Yama Butane Burner, which is a really nice upgrade for use with the Yama Tabletop Brewer. (It is not for flat-bottom stovetop models like the Yama stovetop 5 or 8 cup models, the Bodum Santos. It is too tall to work with the Cona brewers, sorry.) This handy little burner puts out a lot of heat for brewing, and has it's own ignitor - no matches needed. It saves the hassle of dealing with the wick-type lamps that come with the brewers, and refilling with denatured alcohol. Butane is readily available at hardware stores, restaurant supply, and smokers supply places. The cannister has a tip to load the burner under pressure, without pouring the fuel (as with the alcohol lamps) and potentially spilling it in the process. The burner is 3" tall. Here is a detail photo.

$39 (+ 1.4 lbs. ship wt.) add to cart

Yama Replacement Cloth Filters, Pack of 5

We now have the replacement filters for the Yama, and ironically they are made by Hario! They are just a little larger than the previous ones, but we tried them out on the shop's Yama and they work great. Each package contains 5 cloth filters, more than enough to last a year or two. Take note that a cloth filter should last 3-6 months based on how often you use it! So a filter should go a long way, if kept clean and occasionally rinsed in a mild, mild bleach / water mixture.

We want to make sure our supply of these filters is spread around to all the people out there in Yama-land ...hence there is a limit of 1 package per customer.

$6 per package (+.2 lb. shipping) add to cart limit 1 package.

*Shipping Restriction : No International Shipping.

Electric Vacuum Brewers: Our Review of The Bodum Electric Santos and Starbuck's Utopia

We have tested the Bodum Electric Santos and the Utopia brewers. We decided not to carry them because I feel there are several major problems with the semi-automated electric vacuum brewers. The most important is that manual vacuum brewing allows you to infuse the coffee and the hot water as long as you want. You simply keep the brewer on its heat source, and the coffee and water continue to brew in the upper chamber to increase the strength and body of the coffee (but not too much or you will get that acrid bitter cup!). But the electric models do not permit the user to customize the brewing times: you set up the brewer, hit a button, and stand back until the coffee is done (sounds alot like any auto-drip maker ... and it is). By giving up control to an automated process, you cannot determine strength. This is not as big of a problem with automated filter drip brewers but it is a problem with direct contact methods like vacuum brewing. The Electric Santos has an infusion time of about 30 seconds. This is too short unless the coffee is ground exceptionally fine. But you can't grind the coffee too fine! Why? Because the filter on these brewers is a single nylon mesh screen, and a fine grind will result in too much sediment in the cup. A manual vacuum brewer does not use a nylon filter, and by any of the 3 filter methods (Cona Glass Rod, cloth filter, of Bodum plastic filter) all manual brewers result in a much cleaner cup than the electric models. In our cupping tests, there was another problem: consistently poor cup performance when cupped against the exact same coffee prepared in a French Press. We believe that the problem was that, in making a safer method, the brew temperature might not be reaching the ideal 200-205 degree temperature. Lastly, our initial tests resulted in several events where the coffee and hot water erupted from the top of the brewer. Yes, maybe something wasnt quite snapped into place in the plastic top, but the coffee tends to come out the vents in the plastic top nomatter. Yes, these are Lexan plastic units, perhaps a little safer than glass. Lastly, all this is just our opinion aswe try to enjoy these new entrants into the vacuum brewer market. We would have liked to carry the Electric Santos (the Utopia is a Starbuck's exclusive) and it probably would be a great seller for us! But my personal opinion is that I don't feel this unit produces good coffee, and also that electric, automated vacuum brewing is a bit of an oxymoron ...and automation does not improve the vacuum brewing method. - Tom 12/15/01