Vacuum coffee makers are definitely among the tools that coffee achievers say make the best coffee. Regular Mr. Coffee type drip coffeemakers with paper filters that you have to go out and buy in a store and then throw out after using just cannot be that good (and they’re not; the filters eliminate most of the essential oils that are preserved by most of the other methods). Plus they are just plain boring. French presses are a bit boring, too, but the metal mesh allows the oils to stay in the cup and add to the taste. It’s good but the remaining sediment makes them a bit sludgy. Vacuum coffee makers filter out the grounds and let the oils through for a great cup, and the spectacle of the dark, boiling liquid brewing has the drama of a science experiment seen for the first time by a grade school kid. Setup is easy: water in the bottom and coffee in the top. Heat the bottom and the expanding steam pushes the water miraculously up into the top chamber, where it mixes with the coffee and brews for only about a minute. Take it off the heat, set it down on a cold burner and as if performed by a magician, the process quickly reverses; the fresh coffee quickly drips down in the bottom leaving 100% of the sediment behind. An exciting dramatic event to watch first thing in the morning. The upper globe comes off, is easily rinsed out and you’re left with a pot of fresh brewed coffee. The Bodum Santos commonly sold today has a stand to hold the top part and a small lid to keep the coffee in the main pot warm. Easy to use, easy to clean, makes great coffee and great for spectators, too.
Luxury: 9 Affordability: 6
Want more luxury? Hario, the Japanese company whose name means “King of Glass,” makes products that are in a class by themselves. They are expensive and hard to find, but they are gorgeous and extremely high quality. Get a Hario Nouveau and an old Cory glass filter rod from eBay to replace the paper filters and you will have the ultimate brewing machine.