Sweet Maria’s Tip Sheet: Yama Vacuum Brewing (also works for Bodum Santos Vacuum Brewer)

These are intended as a “starting point” for the respective type of brewing. Ultimately, you will figure out the best and most convenient ways to use these brewing devices, so please remake, twist, turn, distort, decompile, torch, grind and brew these instructions to suit your own needs!

Check out our Yama Vacuum Brewing Pictorial!

Download and Print this Tip Sheet in a Single Page .PDF Format. And please look at the Brewing Fundamentals page for some basic parameters and approaches to brewing.

Please note that because of the design of the vacuum brewers, there is always a small amount of water that does not ascend to the funnel. This means that brewing less than the full capacity of the brewer makes more diluted coffee. With the Yama you can make a 2/3 pot without much of a problem, but brewing a 1/2 pot doesn’t work too well.

Vacuum brewing is a wonderful visual experience that just happens to result in great coffee. While these instructions may make it sound like it requires a lot of time and dedication, after several times you will find it is only slightly more laborious than other brewing methods, but much more fun! The following is meant to supplement the instructions that come with the Yama –please read them too!

  • Before you use the Yama for the first time, wash it thoroughly. I would perform a mock brewing with no coffee just to condition the filter or soak the filter in very hot water for a minute or two.
  • Heat some fresh water until it nears the boiling point in a kettle or pan.
  • You can prepare the coffee in the funnel (the top glass piece) while the water is boiling. Install the filter in the funnel by pulling the chain through the funnel shaft and hooking the end of the spring on the lip. Place the funnel in the inverted plastic lid that doubles as a funnel stand.
  • Add the correct amount of fresh coffee, ground as fine as you would for filter-drip brewing. This is medium-fine, not to the point where it clumps when you pinch it between your fingers. What is the correct amount? For all brewing it is 7.25 grams per 6 oz/ 150 ml water. Of course, you should brew coffee to your taste, but most people use too little coffee, and it is ground too coarse. This will make weak brew in a Yama.
  • Fill the bowl (bottom globe with handle) with hot or boiling water. It is 20 oz if you fill to the 5 Cup mark, but I use 22 oz. because there’s no reason not too. Don’t use any more water than that! (Note: you can start with cold water -the process will take much longer though and we have found that the coffee is not as good.)
  • Make sure the outside of the bowl is dry (or it can crack when you turn on the flame). Pour your near-boiling water in the bowl, slowly to condition it to the heat.
  • Push the funnel onto the bowl. Not too hard, just snug. The Yama flanged rubber gasket makes the airtight fit with no effort.
  • If you have a gas burner set it to the LOWEST flame you possibly can. On an electric range, use the wire grid provided with the Yama and set it on a low heat, on a small burner. On my stove, the water is starting to be siphoned upward within 15 seconds. When all the water, (with the exception of a small amount which must remain in the bowl) has been drawn into the top, wait 30 seconds to 1 minute for the coffee to infuse. Some people like to give it a stir with a spoon. (When you see vigorous boiling in the top, try to lower the heat next time. The boiling you see is water vapor pressure releasing from the bottom. Your coffee is not actually boiling!)
  • Extinguish the heat. When all the coffee has drained into the bowl, remove the funnel with a slight twist. Place it in the stand, serve up your wonderful coffee …you have earned it!
  • There are other techniques that involve allowing the water to rise completely to the top and then adding the coffee. There are YouTube videos of vacuum brewing techniques, some of which can get pretty elaborate! Vacuum brewing is as much about the show as anything – though we tend to focus on how good the coffee is.
  • The Yama is a stovetop model but you can use the Bodum Santos spirit warmer if you want, or some other type of alcohol lamp provided it can put out enough heat and has a flat platform for the brewer.
    *Please note that the bowl and handle are not microwave safe! Do not try to reheat the coffee in the bowl as there are metal parts in the handle that will cause it to melt!

Additional Comments:

  1. A note on grinding for vacuum brewing – As with any brewing process,  a finer grind makes more of the surface of the coffee available to the water to dissolve. So you want to use the finest grind you can without clogging up the filter drainer. If your coffee takes a very long time to siphon down to the bowl (longer than 1 to 2 minutes) then use a coarser grind next time.  If the coffee siphons down quickly but the flavor is weak, then use a finer grind.
  2. The only things that will cause the coffee not to siphon back down to the bowl area.) too fine a grind of coffee is blocking the filter (see above); or b.) the vacuum seal did not form properly, so be sure you place the funnel into the bowl snuggly, giving the funnel a slight twist into place. You can also wet the rubber seal slightly which can help form a better seal.
  3. If you choose to use a glass filter rod (like the glass Cona filter drainer) as a replacement for the filter assembly in the Yama 5 and 8 cup stovetop models, be very careful to watch that the coffee siphons correctly; the glass drainer can get clogged and if the pressure is not released, it can cause the glass bowl to implode! Whenever you are brewing with the replacement glass drainer, be sure to watch the brewer, and if it stalls (i.e. the coffee does not pull down to the bowl), wiggle the drainer to release the pressure or pull up on the funnel to break the vacuum. If it does not release – relight the flame on the bottom bowl, and the increased temperature ought to equalize the pressure.
  • Vacuum pot coffee is very clean, and so may taste “weak” if you are used to French press or very strong coffee. You may need to increase the amount of coffee you use relative to the amount of water used as a result.

One Response

  1. I just bought the YAMA 8 locally [Alaska] and was looking for the “manual” for it and am glad I found you! I am not new to vacuum coffee, I found one of the old – old “Glass filter” in a antique store in Illinois in the 80’s. I hid behind the fridge the first time I used it. I now have a BODIM and the Steam.com one also. I wanted the instructions to see what the large round filters are for with the YAMA…

    I also want to comment on your thought that vacuum makers make weaker coffee because not all the water rises into the top. I think that actually the coffee is stronger than usual in the top because of less water, but it evens out when it combines back in the bottom.

    The Bodem to me is the worst one I have because of poor design and it seems to stall more often; I also think that cold water makes a less stalling brew because the initial air molecules are more in the cold air in the initial startup making a stronger vacuum when the pressure drops with taking off heat source. I have only brewed the YUMA twice, but the first one from the antique store is my favorite.

    Come up to Alaska I’ll brew you a cup.

    P.S. I just noticed your have roasting info too, I’ll have to read more!