Vacuum Brewing: A Conversation with Bodum USA

by laura everage on March 19, 2013 · 0 comments

The first glass vacuum pots began to appear in Germany at the beginning of the 19th Century, and quickly became a fashionable way to brew coffee. Not only did vacuum brewing offer an upgrade to the brewing methods previously used, but the method provided a unique view of the brewing process that captivated the senses.

Fast-forward nearly 200 years and this method of brewing remains popular among coffee lovers. At the recent International Home and Housewares Show, Bodum showcased the PEBO Vacuum Brewing Set with Gas Burner ($130). Knowing that the company has offered a vacuum pot for years, I wondered how popular these brewers were today. When asked, Thomas Perez, President of BODUM USA, said, “Sales have been strong and steady over the last couple of decades. However, in recent years we have seen a great increase and interest in this product.”

So, with that thought in mind, Coffee Universe brings you a bit more insight in vacuum brewing at Bodum. Thank you to Perez, for providing us with a bit of education.


Coffee Universe: Tell us about the history of Bodum’s vacuum brewer.

Thomas Perez: In 1958 Peter Bodum collaborated with Danish designer Kaas Klaeson to develop Bodum’s first vacuum coffee maker. This product was the first to be designed, produced and sold by BODUM. The first model was called the MOCCA and over the past 55 years BODUM’s vacuum coffee maker has gone through several iterations. The current model is called the PEBO in Europe, but still known as the SANTOS worldwide.* When the vacuum coffee maker was first introduced in Scandinavia it became one of the most popular coffee brewers on the market. Not only did it brew an amazing cup of coffee, but it was also a great entertainment piece. In fact, at some stage BODUM had several minivans driving around with SANTOS coffee makers, renting them out for parties and receptions.

* The PEBO is actually the name for the SANTOS here in the US and in Europe, so it’s the same product. Earlier versions were known as the MOCCA, RIO, JAVA, DOMINGO, and DON PEDRO in Sweden.

CU: How does the PEBO work, and explain what makes this way of brewing  so popular —  and why some consider it a superior way of brewing coffee.

Perez: The PEBO (short for Peter Bodum) Vacuum brewing system extracts all of the flavorful oils in your coffee without using paper filters. Made of borosilicate glass, users can view the theatrical brewing process from start to ­finish. Water heated to the ideal temperature of about 200 degrees Fahrenheit creates pressure within the lower chamber, pushing the water up to brew with the coffee grounds. Once removed from the heat, the pressure drives the coffee back down through a filter. The result is rich coffee that closely mimics the French Press in flavor. The timing of the process is perfectly calibrating to extract all the delicious flavor and aromas from your coffee grinds.


Lights created using Bodum’s vacuum brewer

Photo by Alain Grossenbacher. Courtesy of Bodum USA, Inc.

CU: To what can you attribute the resurgence in popularity of the vacuum brew method?

Perez: I don’t think the vacuum brew method went out of style in the US, but at some point it became overshadowed by the trend of everything being electric. Its increased popularity today can be attributed to the education surrounding modern coffee culture, the appreciation for a really good cup of coffee, and the growing trend of manual brewing being back in fashion. Consumers are interested in trying out new and different brew methods, and are discovering that while the vacuum method may look complicated it’s actually an incredibly user-friendly process.

CU: Is there a particular coffee drinking consumer who enjoys vacuum brewing over other methods of brewing?

Perez: The consumer who enjoys brewing in this method is similar to the consumer who enjoys French Press or Pour Over brews. They appreciate a great cup of coffee, and are looking for not only the best brew method, but the best beans to produce that perfect cup. They also enjoy the ceremony and understand that if you do just a little bit more, you can create a truly excellent cup of coffee.

CU: Bodum has always been focused on design and considered a trendsetter in this aspect – explain a bit about the company’s tradition of focusing on both design and functionality.

Perez: The company’s core philosophy dates back to 1944 when Peter Bodum established that good design should be both functional and affordable, and that form should always follow function. Bodum is able to be a trendsetter in the marketplace because the company believes in taking risks and trying new things. Bodum is still a family-owned and operated company, and all design is done in-house to ensure that all products adhere to this methodology.

To purchase the PEBO or learn more about the breadth of products available from Bodum, visit the Bodum USA website.



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