Friday, 7 April 2017

Cona Conundrum

Received the replacement spirit burner I bought for the 2nd hand Cona vacuum coffee maker I bought and proceeded to take it out for a test drive.

First problem - it was rubbish - the coffee I was using was powdered coffee for a cafetiere and fatally clogged the filtration system. I did suspect this would happen but thought it worth a try..

Problem No.2 - I  don't know if modern meths is more contaminated than stuff you could get in the '70s, but the burner left brown marks on the bottom of the lower flask which, while I could get them off, took a fair degree of scrubbing. Might investigate a cleaner burning fuel.

Problem No.3 - the neck of the lower glass flask that holds the finished coffee is so narrow that you can't get anything into it to dry the inside of the container. Managed to bodge something with a J cloth and a bent bit of wire. Not the most elegant solution.

Went to Tesco to buy some medium or coarse ground coffee to solve the first problem and hit the 4th problem. No-one mentions on their coffee the degree of coarseness of the grind; the vast majority of coffee drinkers use either a filter or a cafetiere, meaning the chances are it's fine ground (any reference to medium on the packaging is actually referring to the brew strength). Bought some coffee beans to grind myself - hope Hay doesn't mind me using her NutriBullet. First grind produced a lot of fine powder, which I sieved out. 2nd grind was better, but I still had the quantities wrong; you need about one and a half heaped tablespoon coarse ground coffee per mug, not the teeny amount you get with a standard powdered coffee measure. The Cona D size is 2 pints capacity, which is about 4 average sized mugs.

Problems 5 and 6 - the meths mings somewhat when burning and it takes forever for the water to boil - half an hour or more from cold. Overcame this on the next brew by boiling the water in a kettle beforehand, which kind of defeats the object and adds to the overall complexity.

Problem 7 - lots of washing up.

While the finished article was indeed excellent, I think, if Hay has her way, the Cona is going to be used permanently as an up-cycled table lamp, a purpose for which it seems better designed given all the faff. Using a vacuum coffee maker is more of a spectator sport than anything and a ritual akin to the Japanese Tea Ceremony. I shall persevere - for a time, at least.

Stop Press - won the broken Cona on eBay for £19.99, which suffers only from a cracked handle. Will come in useful for spares, but I have to go to Nuneaton to collect it.


  1. Problem 3 Can you use a bottle dryer ie a verticle dowel on a heavy base, so that rinsed with hot water you invert the flask to drain and dry?

    1. Not really - there's a slight inversion in the glass around the top rim that retains the water, and the shape is not exactly inducive to ensuring an even balance.