BLOG //
Ella Takalainen //
Helsinki
// 20.12.2018

Barista Institute Tests: La Vandola- What Is It And How It Works?

Our sourcing manger Anna Vänskä (read here more about Anna and her passion about coffee) introduced me to a pretty new brewing equipment called Vandola. It really caught my eye because it’s really pretty and doesn’t look technical at all which is somewhat fresh in the coffee scene where all the novelties normally have lots of shiny parts and technical details. Vandola is made out of clay and it looks like something out of ancient times. Sooo what there is not to like?

The novelty idea about the Vandola is not only the form and looks but the clever Costa Ricans have also added an air hole to the neck of the kettle. It should increase the airflow and create better brew for the coffee. I didn’t quite understand how it should work so I just had to try it out. 

The creator on the Vandola Minor Alfaro tells in the article of la Ruta del Café Peruano about the process how made the first Vandola. He felt that most of the coffee filters or brewers were designed for individual use and they didn’t work that well in cafes. He created his first Vandola in co-operation with a group of ceramists to create a strong coffee filter that keeps the coffee warm for longer time.

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When I tried the Vandola I used Chemex filter papers because they fit almost perfectly. And to see did the form or the air hole have some difference in the flavor or the TDS I tested the Vandola and Chemex with the same coffee side by side. 

I used 94 Celsius water and exactly the same recipe and coffee for both coffees. I used Koppi roasters light roasted Ethiopia Boji Kelloo coffee. The coffee was roasted 15 day prior to testing and opened in the same morning. I used Mahlkönig EK43 grind size 8, 3 (equaling to coarse grind) for both filters and wet the paper before using it. I only preheat the Vandola for 20 mins because I didn’t see the point in preheating the Chemex for more than during rinsing of the filter paper. For both Vandola and Chemex I did these steps:

  1. Grind 30 grams the coffee to coarse grind and rinse the filter paper.
  2. Use 90 grams of water and bloom for 50 seconds making the whole coffee bet wet.
  3. Pour the water slowly in circulate motion until 500 ml. Brew time should be more or less 5 mins. 
  4. Stir the coffee well before pouring into a cup.

The aroma in Vandola was soft and pleasant, the acidity of the coffee was well present but comparing aroma to Chemex there was very little to no difference. The flavour was also soft and to my mouth just a hint under extracted but still great. TDS was 1, 35 for the Vandala and in Chemex the TDS was 1, 70. So according the SCA standard the Vandola coffee was up to perfect but my personal preferences is just a bit stronger. Chemex flavor was just little bit bitter much more intensive comparing to the Vandola. Vandola is said to preserve the heat really well and I tested the temperature 20 mins after brewing and the Vandola 50 Celsius and Chemex 49 Celsius, so the difference was very little.

Vandola is super pretty and it works well at least with the light roasted coffee I tested it with and it would be ideal for few people sharing a cup of coffee. The ceramic material makes it really nice to handle and gives a feeling of durable and easy to clean gadget. I would need a little more tryouts but I can say so far I have really liked it a lot!

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