Bodum is a Danish company founded in the mid-1950s. Initially the company imported, amongst other things, French & Eastern European glasswares. I recently heard a (yet unverified) rumour that at this time Bodum also sold Hellem vac pots. This would explain some of the companies history; the Santos was in fact one of the first products designed by Bodum itself - a vac pot.
The SantosAppropriately, this old Bodum Domingo was the first vac pot I came across. Found on a fleamarket for a mere US$5 & even though it was just the basics, jug, funnel & filter - no stand, or anything, but it did a decent job & made an excellent brew. It still does.
Initially, I was told that this was a smaller Bodum Santos made in the 1960s. Although the dating is about right, this vacuum brewer was later identified as a model called the Domingo. As Bodum Santos' come, this is a bit of an odd-bird. With its 650ml volume (4 to 6 not very generous cups) the Domingo is fairly small. In looks, it's more like a Cona Junior Kitchen Model, than the familiar, more roundish original Santos. The differences with the new Santos are striking:
The latter is, as far as I know, the late 1990s model. Compare the funnel (similar to that of the first 1950s model), to that of the Hellems.
Note, although it makes a nice presentation on the table, you don't really need to use the alcohol lamp - the vac pot heats up much quicker when used directly on a stove. Some advice using a wire grid in case of an electric plate, but I've never had any trouble using mine on my ceramic stove. As long as there's enough water left "downstairs", the vac pot can withstand plenty of heat.
A bit of Bodum history
Although the below roughly sums up which models Bodum made, it is still uncertain when exactly these models were launched, what accessories were supplied, etc. Nonetheless, I hope you find this an interesting read.
As said above, the first product manufactured by the Bodum company, was a vac pot - a model called the Mocca. In style it's pretty basic, & looks like the "old" Cona table model.
This was in the early 1950s. AFAIK the Mocca apparently didn't sell too well. Despite the disappointing sales figures & the growing popularity of the Melitta method, Bodum kept believing in the superiority of vacuum brewing. A few years later (mid-1950s), the company launched the first Santos. Here was a model that could be used both on a stand with an alcohol stove, as well as on a stove. The latter made vacuum brewing quicker & more convenient, & probably led to the success of the Santos family.
Later, probably in the early 1960s, Bodum added a 12-cup model to their line of vac pots, called the "Rio". The Rio was intended for use in restaurants, and apparently also available as a set that included a Melitta cone. Because of its large size & the emphasis on purpose, rather than looks, its styling is quite dissimilar from either the new, or the old version Santos. Refer to the picture below, showing the Santos on the left, and the Rio on the right:
I've already mentioned the Domingo model, that appeared in the mid-1960s. About a decade later, in the 1970s, Bodum introduced the elegant Java model. Basically, this was a restyled Santos, with a tripod that doubled as a handle. As said, the design was very elegant, but unfortunately, I don't have a picture to share with you.
The "e-Santos" family
The latest additions to the Bodum vac pot family are the electric Santos, and Mini Santos. These are often dubbed e-Santos, or i-Santos for its similarities in choice of colour & design to the i-Mac series. In the USA it's also sold under the names Bodum 3000 & Starbucks Utopia. Apologies again, at the moment I've no pic of this one either - maybe later.Also, I can't compare its merits, or weaknesses to those of other vac pots. What I can tell you at this point is that I have sampled coffee from the "e-Santos" & did quite enjoy that. I also like its "organic" shape & its transparent silver/grey would look cool on my counter. Well, maybe I can tell you more, if I (again) luck into one at a fleamarket, or something. Otherwise, it'll have to wait till this student has some cash to splash.
Anyway, back to the glass Bodum Santos. If you are looking for a new vac pot, this is one you might consider. All will yield more or less the same brew - basically, a bit brighter & less gritty than cafetiere. Also all vac's are a bit more of a hassle to clean - though the Santos is easier, since it has a wider neck. I suppose the same holds for the e-Santos.
A downside of the Santos is its filter disc. I'll add that this is a bit of a controversial issue - some contradict it, others have the same trouble. The disc does work, in the sense that it will stop most of the grounds & leaves a clear brew, but it certainly is sensitive. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I've had it clog pretty often. My guess is that it stalls on fine dusty grounds - in other words, you need a good grinder to use it.
Grinding coarsely & letting the vac pot simmer on a low heat appears to best formula to make it work. It's not the worst filter I've come across, but I know better. The (nylon?) filter on the e-Santos can only be an improvementů
One good thing is that the Bodum Santos is one of the most economic vac's you can find, only the Yama is a few $$ cheaper. I'm not sure about the latter, but, as always, you get what you pay for. I find the Santos a decent brewer, but has a bit of a cheapish "feel" to it. I would have preferred a sturdier feel, which can be found in other Bodum products, such as their Chambord cafetieres.
Bottom line, although I would have preferred a different filter, the Bodum Santos will make you an excellent brew. It is a basically a decent vac pot for a relatively low price. Do consider it an option, if it's what you can afford, or are willing to spend.
Curious? Want to know more? Ask!