The Elektra Micro Casa a Leva home espresso blog

The Elektra Micro Casa a leva is a beautiful home espresso machine. But is it capable of making great coffee? Follow my pursuit of ultimate espresso coffee as I learn to use this exciting machine.

Location: Trondheim, Norway

Friday, October 28

Introducing vacuum brewing!

Bodum Santos Originally uploaded by audunso.

What you see in this picture, a Bodum Santos vacuum brewer, is only VERY remotely connected to lever espresso machines.... The only link to think of is the wish to have something that few other people have. This vacuum brewer is also good looking and capable of making very good coffee, just like the Elektra!

A vacuum brewer was hard to get. I ordered it one piece at a time from a glass warehouse (Glassmagasinet in Oslo). Later; I discovered that I could have bought the whole thing $30 cheaper, 200 meters away (Byporten shopping mall). Shit happens!

With a thermometer to measure water temperature, the resulting coffee is really good. I have tried a Blue Java origin, and it tasted awesome.

I use an electric heater, but to improve the esthetics I definitely want to buy a gas heater (butane, preferably). I already have the rack to place on the table with the gas burner (as seen to the left of the brewer in the picture). There are lots of gas burners out there, but none I´ve seen so far are good looking or small enough for the rack. Bodum has one -maybe I´ll order it if I don´t find anything cheaper....

So what is good about a vacuum brewer, except for the fun of the process? Well, the resulting coffee has not been filtered through a paper filter (like with a drip brewer. Paper filters take up some of the aromatic substances), but rather through a plastic filter which lets water and coffee through, but retains the coffee grinds. The coffee has very little or no grit in it, as compared to the french press method. So the result is a clean, tasty coffee!

The procedure: I put the water in the lower unit and place it on the heater. When the temperature reaches 90+ C (I have a thermometer, but with experience I guess I can skip it), I add the top unit with the freshly ground coffee in it. Most of the water is now making its way to the top unit, through a glass funnel. After a while, the coffee start to bubble, as air (steam) is coming from the lower unit. This mixes the coffee very well :-) ,much better than with the french press- or the drip method.

The heat source is now removed, and after some 30 seconds the pressure in the lower unit has dropped, and the coffee is sucked down. The grinds in the top unit is left almost dry after this suction! The coffee now mixes with the water that never entered the top unit. This water was boiling (100 C), but this doesn´t seem to affect the coffee too negatively, as the coffee grinds is in the top unit. But the coffee is very hot when brewing is finished, more than 90 degrees.

With the heater you have control of the brewing time. You just lower the heat when the water is raising to the top unit, and that keeps the water/coffee mixture in the top unit as long as you want without raising the temperature too much. This requires practise, especially with an electric heater. With gas, this will be quiet easy.

The vacuum method is rare these days. I have found a bottom unit in my grandparents house, so I guess they had a vacuum brewer! The method is also a bit too "scientific" as it requires some knowledge about the importance of brewing temperature. If the two units are placed together too early in the process, the brew temperature can be as low as 70 degrees! And if the heat source is removed too soon, the brewing time can be as short as one or two minutes. And is just a question of time before I break the top unit, fragile as it is.... :-( But at the moment, I´m really happy!

Monday, October 24


Originally uploaded by audunso.


Originally uploaded by audunso.