Bodum Santos

5.3

Price

3.0/10

Quality

6.0/10

Ease of Use

6.0/10

Cleaning Ease

5.0/10

Appearance

10.0/10

Durability

2.0/10

Pros

  • Fun and interesting to watch
  • Coffee is always hot
  • Coffee has little bitterness and is full of flavor
  • The filter is reusable
  • No sludgy coffee sediment

Cons

  • Long, high-maintenance brewing process
  • Very fragile
  • Handle is too short and often too hot to touch
  • Stand for the upper globe is narrow and as a result, can easily tip over
  • Expensive

Last week, I took a look at a one-of-a-kind manual drip coffee maker, the Chemex coffee maker. Check out the review here!

This time, I'm reviewing yet another unique, and somewhat-manual coffee maker. The Bodum Santos Vacuum Coffee Maker is definitely an appliance that you would expect to find in a chemistry lab. In fact, if you saw it in a kitchen you might be a little confused.

With two glass globes stacked together, and a black handle protruding from the middle, this thing looks more like an hourglass than a coffee maker. But alas, sand is not part of the brewing process (unfortunately?).

How the Bodum Santos Works

Now let me preface this explanation with: it's not as hard as it sounds or looks, so bare with me.

The process starts with cold (and filtered) water filled to practically the top of the lower globe (assuming you want to make 6 cups of coffee). The coarsely ground coffee is then placed in the top globe. Attached to the upper globe is tube with a plastic filter in the middle. The upper globe is then placed tube-first into the lower globe and secured in place.

The actual brewing begins when the Bodum Santos (don't want to abbreviate this one) is placed on a burner or hot plate that is operating at full heat capacity. Once the water boils, it begins to transfer to the top globe and infuse with the coffee grounds.

When practically all of the water has reached the top globe (you should leave about 2cm of water in the bottom globe), the Bodum Santos is removed from the heat source, and the coffee is vacuumed back down to the bottom globe through the filter. It is quite a spectacle, especially for those who are witnessing it for the first time.

Here is a video showing the whole process, done by the folks down at idrinkcoffee.com (thanks guys!).

The Review

This top rated coffee maker is definitely worth considering if you aren't sold on any of the more traditional coffee brewing methods. Or if you are just looking to try something new that also offers a lot of entertainment value, this is a great option.

Still, it has its drawbacks as well as its advantages. Let's take a look.

Please note: Although I am reviewing this top rated coffee maker, I have no experience using it. Instead, I summarize all of the most helpful reviews on this coffee maker from around the web. I do my best to make the reviews completely unbiased, making sure to cover both the positives and negatives of every coffee maker I review. Visit the about page to learn more…or feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.

The Price

While this is a considerably expensive coffee maker given its fragility, if you know what you are doing, the Bodum Santos has great value. I'll talk a bit more about keeping your Bodum intact when we discuss its durability, but just keep in mind that this is a very expensive machine considering its simplicity. Additionally, the price has nearly doubled in the last 10 years.

 

Score: 1.5 stars

The Quality

If there were one reason that people continue to use this coffee maker again and again, it's because the coffee is produces is top quality. Several reviewers have claimed that the Bodum Santos makes great tasting coffee even with inferior beans and grounds. While this doesn't necessarily mean that you should go out and purchase the cheapest beans you can find, you could settle from time to time.

With low bitterness and minimal (read: inexistant) coffee sediment, many reviewers think the Bodum Santos makes the best coffee they have ever had.

As far as the quality of the coffee maker goes, it is very well-designed. Despite the fact that the glass is thin, it is still durable. While the built-in filter and handle are sometimes cited as problematic, the overall quality of the Bodum Santos is tough to beat.

Score: 3 stars

Ease of Use

The first few times you use this coffee maker you might get frustrated. It's not the most intuitive brewing process, and many people don't know what they're doing from the onset. For many people, the instruction manual that accompanies this coffee maker is simply insufficient.

While I don't think this coffee maker is difficult to use from a general standpoint, I do think it is difficult to use from a relative standpoint. The fact that you need to watch the Bodum Santos to make sure that you don't overheat the bottom globe is a nuisance. “High-maintenance” is the perfect way to describe it.

There is no whistle (like a kettle) to alert you when the coffee is boiling, so don't you dare leave the room.

Score: 3 stars

Appearance

This thing looks great and it's totally cool watching it brew. It turns the heads of those who are in your kitchen, and the practically all-glass construction makes this coffee maker very easy on the eyes. If the handle were out of the picture it would look even nicer, but it still has 5-star appearance.

Score: 5 stars

Cleaning Ease

This is always a contentious category, but my general sense is that the Bodum Santos is easy to clean. Like other coffee makers, it is obviously better to clean it sooner than later, but a simple rinse should generally do the trick. Make sure you scoop out the grounds and toss them in your trash or compost.

Score: 2.5 stars

Durability

This is the Bodum Santos‘ achilles heel, unfortunately. Anything that is made of glass, especially thin glass, is going to be vulnerable no matter how carefully you treat it. While Bodum claims that this coffee maker is dishwasher safe, I certainly wouldn't risk it.

Rinsing with warm water is probably the best way to go with this coffee maker, but do so at your own risk!

Score: 1 star

About the Filter…

There have been frequent complaints about the filter the Bodum Santos uses. Many have stopped working after short periods of time. Additionally, there have also been frequently cited issues with the coffee getting stuck in the top globe and not passing back down through the filter.

Fortunately, thanks to Amazon's great cross-selling system, I discovered the Yama Vacpot Vacuum Filters…which many claim to be better than the filter that comes with the Bodum. If you are having trouble with your Bodum's filter, consider this cheap alternative.

About the Customer Service

While I can't claim to have experienced Bodum's customer service myself, many customers have claimed that it is abysmal. Considering how much you are paying for this coffee maker, it doesn't seem fair to be met with poor customer service. Keep this in mind if you are one to contact support when experiencing issues.

The Bottom Line

To me, this is more of a recreational coffee maker for the everyday coffee connoisseur. It is not your best bet for a quick cup of joe, as the brewing process takes about 10 minutes, which of course excludes cleaning time.

I would definitely recommend this coffee maker to someone who isn't in a rush to make their coffee, and always strives to get the best taste from each cup they drink. It would also make a great gift, so long as you teach the recipient how to properly use the dang thing!