With the growing interest in non-espresso coffee, siphon brewers are making a come-back. But although far from mainstream, these coffee makers, sometimes called vacuum coffee makers, or vac pots for short, have had always had followers. I’m one of those followers myself, and have been using siphon brewers for over a decade now.
I often use my Kono and Hario brewers, which are just the right size and geometry for making great coffee. There is only one thing that not quite right about them: the filters. These popular Asian siphon brewers use cloth filters, and cloth filters are a real nuissance to clean. I do wonder, does anyone actually like these?
My point is, there are better alternatives. The best ones in my opinion are found in Cona coffee makers, which come with glass filters.
It may be difficult to understand how a glass contraption act as a coffee filter, but the history of siphon brewers has seen various types, and most work surprisingly well.
The picture above shows five different glass drainer style filters that are relatively easily available. The bulb in the middle has a rough surface that acts as a filter. From left to right, these are two Cona drainers (new and old), two Cory filter rods, and a Silex Lox-in.
The new model Cona drainer is still made to this day, and available from any Cona retailer. It works well in all siphon brewers, but its older brother (to the right of it) is my favourite. It’s larger and wider, and almost twice as heavy. Because of the low center of gravity, it sits very stable during brewing.
I don’t recommend the Silex Lox-in, but the Cory rods will work too, although these tend to wobble a bit. You can find these and the old Cona drainers on ebay.
Using a glass filter isn’t without some minor problems. For one thing, you need to be more careful when stirring the brew. Temporarily dislodging a glass filter can interrupt the brewing process. This can lead to more sediment in the cup, or, at worse, cause the coffee to be drawn down prematurely.
Still, glass filters are a great alternative for cloth filters. The amount of sediment in the cup is hardly more than you would get from a cloth or paper filter. Compared to cloth filters, these glass filters don’t affect the flavour of the coffee, and cleaning is a walk in the park.
So, why not simply use a glass filter in your Hario, Kono, or whatever other siphon coffee maker you normally use? I have tried this numerous times and found the Cona drainers to work well in the siphon brewers in my collection. Over the years I’ve come to think of these as more or less universal filters.
Which makes me wonder, does anyone else use a Cona drainer, or other glass filter?