It is a coffee enthusiast’s guilty pleasure to always look for more things that could make our beloved beverage taste even better.
And countless methods for brewing and processing have been invented to achieve just that. From Turkish Coffee in the 16th century, all the way to Clever and AeroPress in the 21st, ingenious coffee makers have strived to make the best coffee they possibly could.
Most of these methods took advantage of the unique scientific successes of their time and until now they all brought something new to the table.
There is however one brewing method that breaks that pattern! One device that takes your coffee one step ahead, took one step back.
I am talking about no other than the Vandola!
Vandola - What is it?
The Vandola brewing device is a jug made of clay that resembles a Chemex. It has the same cone-shaped top with a collecting chamber underneath, and a small hole connects them.
It was invented in 2015 by Minor Alfaro, a coffee lover and potter, in Costa Rica based on traditional Columbian and Costa Rican brewing methods, with a few changes of his own to adjust the taste to modern standards.
Each Vandola is handmade and takes around one month to make. The top and bottom halves are made separately and then united before the clay is left to dry for 15-22 days.
The reason it takes this long to make is due the thickness of the clay as well as the humidity levels where it is made.
After that, it is baked at 800 degrees, painted, and varnished, and after it has cooled down, baked again at 1.100 degrees. Not all Vandolas make it through the baking process.
Because each and every single one of them is handmade, all Vandolas are unique, which might result in slight differences in body or flavor.
You can call that an additional touch of individuality, exclusive to you.
Why does it work?
The reason the Vandola is not just a replica of the Chemex, regardless of their similarities, lies in the material used for its making.
Like the Takoname Yaki teapot that is known for enhancing green tea’s individual flavors, the same is true for the Vandola’s relationship with coffee.
Because the coffee reacts with the minerals in the clay, that reaction has a direct influence on the taste of the beverage.
Gabriel Cespedes, a Two-time, World Cup Tasters Champion, has also noted that the aroma is highlighted with a longer endurance. To that he adds that the brightness of the coffee is emphasized in a very delicate manner, and the body of the beverage is softer than if brewed otherwise.
It should be noted that there is one more feature, an air hole (valve), located just below the funnel. According to the inventor, this valve was added to assist by improving oxygenation while brewing, and therefore result in a sweeter flavor.
Overall, both the shape and the material of the mug have a positive effect on the drinker’s experience.
How to make coffee with a Vandola?
To make coffee using a Vandola you will need a Chemex filter, some ground coffee, (which due to the unique bottleneck size will take a few tries before you find the most suitable grind), and some hot water.
At the beginning, wet the filter and warm the Vandola with hot water, because if you don’t, the clay will rob the beverage of its heat before you have a chance to pour it in your cup.
If you do however warm it up, the heat within the jug is estimated to be preserved for approximately 30 minutes.
According to Minor Alfaro, the inventor of the device, the brewing process should not take more than 4 minutes.
After rinsing your filter and warming the clay, throw the ground coffee in the filter and pour a small amount of water inside. Let it bloom for around 30 seconds.
Then add some more water, depending on the amount you are making and let it brew until only the ground coffee is left.
Repeat the process until you have made the amount of coffee you want. Try not to exceed the 4-minute mark.
Now you can pour the coffee in your mug and enjoy!
What coffees work the best with a Vandola?
While there are not many recommendations when you start using a new brewing method, keep in mind that different roasts, grinds, and blends will give you a unique end result every time.
Depending on your own individual tastes and your own Vandola, it is best to experiment with multiple kinds of coffee until you find what works for you.
Due to the minerals in the coffee curving the acidity and softening the body, light to medium roasts are advised, as they have a more distinct individual flavor to offer, which can really shine in this method.
For grinds, it comes down to what filter you are using. For a Chemex filter a more coarsely ground coffee would be ideal.
Of the wide variety of brewing methods invented until now, the Vandola is of the most fascinating ones.
With its one-of-a-kind properties and all the craftsmanship put in its making, no other process can match the individuality this device grants to your drink.
It might go one step back by using a material such as clay, that is not encountered often in the Coffee Industry, but this exact trait opens the door to a whole new range of distinct flavors and aromas.
It’s still relatively new as a method, but once it gets more widespread, it has a lot to offer to coffee lovers all around the world!
This post was first published in 2021 but it was updated in 2023 just for you.