The mighty Filter Coffee Machine. Viewed by many as a thing of the past. Making coffee this way is easy, cheap, reliable and rewarding. Overlook this brewing method and you will surely be missing out.
In this article I will as a celebration of this method, compare an old machine with a current one. I will recall information and notes made over the last two years. I will reveal results of what became a bit of a social experiment by mistake.
Along the way I will also explain how to use the filter coffee brewing method.
The two machines used in the comparison are a Cona from the early noughties. Up against a Bravilor Mondo 2 which is a current machine.
The filter coffee machines:
The Cona appeared on an auction site in 2005 for the starting price of £9.99 with £5.00 carriage. A Friday night spur of the moment thing. With 10 minutes to go I threw a bid on of £10. I won ! The seller was not too happy about it !
When the machine arrived it looked like new. It had new jugs with no wear on the logos and the internals were mint. It was clear this machine had been used a handful of times at most.
The Mondo 2 was bought out of curiosity. As we speak in 2019 this model is still available for sale.
How it works:
It’s easy peasy stuff this filter coffee. Switch the filter coffee machine on. Put the coffee in the filter paper whilst sat in the pan. Put the pan in the machine, pour water into the slot on the top of the machine. Make sure the jug is sat underneath the pan to catch the coffee !
Then boom here comes the coffee ! It really is as simple as that. In these machines I have generally been using the following water to coffee mixes: 30G coffee to 650ml of spring water (makes 2 mugs), 60G coffee to 1.1 litres of spring water. (makes 4-5 mugs).
The general recommended ratio is 1 Litre of water to 60G of coffee. With a proper strong coffee like Java that’s too much for most. A bit more water brings out the lighter notes. Whilst holding a strong body, Java is a great coffee.
Water variance and ratio
Using Highland Spring water at all times always made for a pleasant result. Making coffee available for everyone else working in the business complex here taught me a lot.
First of all people develop taste and recognition for good coffee very quickly. From the point of being grateful to the point of umming and arring seemed a short time coming.
Serving up Happy Donkey Java Plus every day on a 1 ltr to 60G ratio bought pleasant feedback. There were comments that is was very strong, indeed that’s how I like it 🙂
On the day when I had run out of highland spring and had no time to go to the warehouse I was sussed immediately. Everyone noticed the nasty bleachy tap water and that days coffee was snubbed !
This was from 5 people all of whom had previously drank instant coffee made with boiled tap water ! That’s what they call creating a monster.
Experts in the making
I began changing the coffee to water ratio every time I did so it was picked up on. I then began to add compression to the coffee in the filter using the base of a coffee storage container.
Once again the changes were picked up immediately. This is why when people tell me they know nothing about coffee I tell them they know everything bar the terminology and method.
Taste is instinct and everybody has instinct. Whether they choose to ignore it is another thing. Some people say great coffee is wasted on them, I say they are wasting great coffee.
We all know what we like and our instinct chooses to react accordingly. The most important thing in coffee is making one which you like, not one that someone tells you you should like. This is all too easily forgotten.
Noting the Cona
The Cona is British made, yes honestly it is :-). This is evident straight away. The Cona body is made from stainless steel. I know a lot about welding and fabrication and this is something I would be proud of making myself.
The stainless is folded so well I guess it was done on a press and maybe on a machine. It does have the feel of hand pressed in a jig though. What ever it is the wow factor is high. The switches on the Cona have that positive snapping quality to them. they feel like they will last forever.
The sprayhead on the Cona is truly multi directional and the best I have ever seen. The lights and the internal wiring are very good quality. Being that these are no longer available I can’t help but think this was a machine that the coffee scene should never have let pass it by. The build quality is a hands down 10 out of 10. I have never scored a machine that highly before.
The only other one I have seen was briefly in the background of an episode of Ultimate Force 🙂 A TV series which ran for a few years around the time of my auction purchase. A drama it starred Ross Kemp and was about the SAS. They had the black logo model, no doubt this made for better camouflage than the red would have.
Using the Cona filter coffee machine.
Starting the Cona up in the morning it needs a bit of time to warm up. The orange light on the front of the machine lets you know when the element is in use. It has two heating plates one up one down. The top one can be switched off.
Running 600ml of water through it before actually making any coffee definitely improved results. I guess this is because the internals heat up as a result of this. Therefore we get better crema and coffee, because the heat is more consistent.
The Cona runs a heat cycle every so often, the noise given off when sat in a quiet room is pleasing. It’s as if it were reminding us of just how well put together it is. Great British high quality engineering.
Just by using the same ratios every day the results are variable at times. I believe this is due to the way the filter coffee machine heats. The results are representative of a heat cycle. Depending on where the cycle is in accordance with when water is poured through dictates change.
Taste bud sensations galore !
Altering ratio of water to coffee the Cona rewards with all manor of nuances, as does varying compression of the coffee. Using Happy Donkey Java Plus I have tasted chocolate, chicory, flowers, marzipan, smoke and spice (like paprika), caramel and at one point buttered toast.
To get this from one blend is something really special, yes Java is flexible even when cold brewed, but the Cona plays a big part in these changes. It feel like the machine was designed this way because of the fashion in which it delivers.
Noting the Mondo 2
The Mondo 2 I bought out of curiosity. Curious to see what one of the top sellers did that the Cona didn’t. I was very surprised when I found out how many were sold in the previous year. That figure can’t be revealed but trust me it was a big one !
Out of the box we have a very neutral looking filter coffee machine. It’s blend of plastics and shiny sheet metal creating a look which would fit in anywhere. Its a lot lighter than the Cona. It comes with 2 years parts and labour warranty which is very impressive.
On the front upper panel there’s a power switch and another above that which turns the upper heat plate on and off. There’s a light which flashes red if the machine needs descaling. A nice touch.
Initially I did not like the look of the machine at all, it does however grow on you over time. It becomes ‘part of the furniture’ remarkably quick.
Using the Mondo 2 filter coffee machine
In use it does not take long to understand the design brief behind the Mondo filter coffee machine. It’s all about efficiency and consistency.
Make no mistake the Mondo is in charge here ! It’s not up for fun, this is serious business !
The machine when switched on, does nothing, just sits and looks back at you. No noises nothing. However put some coffee in the pan and pour water in the roof slot, it comes alive.
The Mondo works like an automatic kettle, when it detects new water in the tank it fires up and starts to heat the water. A short while later it makes your coffee. It gives you a couple of bleeps when it is finished. This filter coffee machine is as refined as they come.
Playing around with water levels and compression yes you get some change but no sense of fun. There’s no spontaneous elements here, you know what you’re getting because it’s what you get every single time !
It’s not so much as the machine is telling you what you should have. More that is knows what it has been built to do. There’s no love, no romance, it’s just business, like a coffee making terminator.
Conclusion old vs new
In conclusion having lived with these for a couple of years regular use it is clear to me both machines have their place.
The Cona with it’s fantastic last forever build quality and it’s admirable talent to deliver variables means it will always be part of my coffee kit collection. I would find it hard to let it go at any price. That’s rare in itself I swap kit out at an alarming rate normally.
It’s a hidden Gem and these can be bought for next to no money at all at the moment because they simply are not in fashion. People sometimes even laugh when they see it, they soon shut up when they drink the coffee !
The Cona filter coffee machine is fun to live with, looks beautiful and distinctive sat in the modern kitchen. This machine provokes much conversation from visitors to the house. I am fond of the Cona in the same way I am fond of my Hi-fi.
Where the Cona shines though it also falls down. It’s hard to get solid consistency with this machine due the way it heats. The fact that it is a unpredictable draws me to it. However those around here in the business units actually starting to moan a bit when the coffee tasted different from the day before.
Great coffee for the office
Because in modern life most people want everything now and it must be the way they want it the Mondo 2 sells well. It doesn’t threaten daily routine, it does not ask you to think and requires no real attention span to look after.
You buy a Mondo 2 recycle the box plug it in and it will probably do the same thing every day for the rest of your life ! Make the same coffee, it tells you when it’s ready, uses very little electricity and offends nobody with it’s looks. It even tells you when it needs cleaning !
If and when it dies you throw it away and buy a new one, there’s no sentimental value here, it’s just a machine.
Ultimately there is no winner other than to note that every machine has it’s place. For the Cona it’s in the home of the coffee enthusiast and the foody, For the Mondo 2 it’s the office, pub or sandwich shop.
What these two machines have done between them is unwittingly mark and record a change in generations and an attitude difference between them, Something in itself which is remarkable.
Each filter coffee machine makes great coffee. Especially when it’s Happy Donkey Java Plus.