The look of the Vandola coffee maker is rather deceptive. While the design of the Vandola looks like it was created several centuries back, it is surprisingly modern. In fact, it is something that has only started to appear within the last decade or so. Let’s take a little look at in more depth, shall we?
What is the Vandola Coffee Brewer?
The Vandola Coffee brewer is a pour over coffee maker that is hand made from clay. It looks like a kettle and has a wide opening at the top for the filter, a thick handle with a large opening for holding and a narrow spout.
For the most part, it works in much the same way as a Chemex pour over coffee maker. This means that you put a Chemex or V60 filter in it, load it up with coffee, and let hot water drip through that filter, making that amazing coffee. Honestly, it is a pretty simple coffee brewer.
It has been designed to be (mostly) used on a table in a coffee shop, or at home. There are two sizes available; 500ml and 1-liter.
The Invention of the Vandola Coffee Brewer
The Vandola coffee maker was invented by Minor Alfaro from Costa Rica. While his design is very modern, he crafted the Vandola based on old Costa Rican and Colombian methods of brewing a coffee, albeit with a few updates to ensure that the coffee meets modern tastebuds.
He claims that the Vandola is perfect for groups sitting in coffee shops, and we must agree. In the past, anything like this that would sit on the table in a cafe would be for one person only. This would be rather cumbersome if you had three or people trying to enjoy a good cup of coffee. The Vandola fits it all into one bit of kit. There is no denying that it is beautiful to look at too.
Despite the more traditional design to the coffee maker, you will be surprised at how ergonomic it is. It is easy to pick up. It is easy to pour. In normal situations, none of the coffee will leak out. You can really tell that this is a well-designed product.
The Making of the Vandola Coffee Brewer
The inventor of the Vandola has recruited several potters around the world, the vast majority of whom are based in Costa Rica, to create the coffee maker.
Each Vandola takes around a month to make from scratch. A good proportion of this time is dedicated to the drying of the clay it is constructed from. Due to the thickness of the clay, this takes an astonishing amount of time. By all accounts, only a small fraction of the Vandola coffee makers are able to get through the drying process due to the amount of time it takes.
One of the wonderful things about the Vandola is that each and every one of them is unique. This is due to the way in which they are crafted by hand. While there may be a small amount of overlap in the patterns that you see on the Vandola, each artisan is allowed to add their own touches. The result is a product that exudes both Colombian and Costa Rican style.
It isn’t just the look of the Vandola that results from the handmade approach, though. There are slight variances in each and every Vandola. This impacts the taste ever so slightly.
This means that each Vandola produces a different cup of coffee. One of the real thrills of picking up a Vandola for the first time is that you need to experiment with it to get the perfect flavor for you.
Why the Coffee Brewer is Different
Putting aside the unique look of each Vandola coffee maker for a second, there is a unique feature on this coffee maker that no similar products on the market have. This is the addition of a small ‘air hole’ (known as a valve) that sits just below the coffee filter.
The purpose of this valve is to assist with the brewing process. While it does help to speed everything up, the valve helps to add a touch of unique flavor to the coffee.
Taste testers have described it as a unique, but beautiful, flavor. Thing along the lines of being more aromatic and the flavor notes being a touch more pronounced. It is something that you really need to try to sample the subtle taste change.
What you need To Brew Coffee with a Vandola
As we stated before; each Vandola coffee maker is unique. This means that you may need to experiment with it to get a flavor that is right for you. However, a lot of this will be focused on the fineness of the coffee grind that you use. A lot of people will start with finely ground coffee with their Vandola, and if that doesn’t have the right taste for them, they work up from there.
For the most part, brewing your coffee with the Vandola coffee maker will not be that different from using a typical pour over coffee brewer. You can even use the same filters if you want.
These are steps that the team behind the Vandola recommends that you follow to ensure the perfect brew: This is for the 500ml variant of the Vandola. You can double these amounts for the 1 liter version.
- 30g coffee ( Costa Rica of course)
- Fresh Roasted Coffee
- Burr Grinder
- Chemex or V60 Filters
- Goose Neck Kettle
- 480g of Water
- Stir Stick
How to Brew Coffee with the Vandola – Step By Step
Step 1 – Heat Water in the Kettle
Fill your goose neck kettle with about 500g of water and start heating it up until it reaches 195 – 205 degrees. It going to take a few minutes so in meantime lets gets the other things ready to brew.
Step 2 – Place Filter in Chemex
Grab one of the tri-folded or V60 filters and put it into the Vanadola.
Step 3 – Rinse the Filter
Once your kettle is hot enough, grab it and rinse the filter. The reason for doing this is that it removes any paper flavor the you might get from the filter and the second reason is that it will preheat the Vandola. After this, dump the water out by turning the Vandola upside down while holding the filter in place.
Step 4 – Weigh The Coffee
Now is the time to break out the scale, turn it on and and tare it, (means zero it out).
Grab your fresh roasted coffee and weigh out 30g grams of coffee since we will be using 480g of water for this brewing.
I like to use a 16 to 1 ratio (Water to Coffee) for the Vandola but that’s personal preference. You can use whatever ratio you find tastes the best i.e. 15 to 1 or 17 to 1 etc..
Step 5 – Grind Coffee Medium Coarse
Open up your manual or electric burr grinder and pour your 30g of coffee beans into. You are going to want a medium coarse grind or something that resembles the size of kosher salt.
When you make your coffee if you find the coffee bitter, the grind may be to fine and therefore its getting over extracted. However if you find your coffee is sour that the grind may be too coarse and the coffee is getting under extracted. Adjust accordingly if you find either of these happening.
Step 6 – Start the Brewing Process
Put the Vandola and rinsed filter on your scale and pour your ground coffee in the filter. Then Tare (zero out) your scale and get out your timer.
We are now going to start the timer and take the hot water and begin to saturate the coffee until you get to 60 grams. At this time we are going to take our stir stick and briefly move the coffee around GENTLY to make sure there aren’t any dry areas and then wait 30 seconds.
If you are using fresh coffee you will see a “bloom” where the coffee is getting rid of the C02 that was created when the coffee was roasted. (if you don’t see a bloom it means your coffee is probably not fresh)
Step 7 – Add More Water To A Vandola
Once you hit the 30 second mark you will then start adding more water. You want to pour from in either a clockwise or counter clockwise motion moving from the center out. You will do this until the water gets to just a little bit from the top of the rim of the Chemex, and once it lowers a little add some more water until you get to 480g.
This should take about one minute or until you get to the 1:30 mark on your timer. At this point put your kettle down and wait until your timer gets to 4 minutes. Once it hits 4 minutes, lift up the filter and coffee grounds and let it hang for a second or 2 over the Vandola to get a few more drips of coffee and then put the filter in the sink so as not to create a mess.
Step 8 – Sit Back, Relax and Enjoy!
Now the best part! Grab your favorite mug and after swirling the Vandola around a couple of times, pour it into the mug and then just put on some music from Costa Rica, sip slowly and enjoy.
It really is that simple! As we said, you should experiment a little bit with the size of the coffee grounds. However, we can promise you that before you experiment, your Vandola coffee maker is still going to be producing a beautiful cup of coffee. The whole process is virtually foolproof.