Hellem vac pots


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Hellem is a French brand of vacuum brewers, or at least it used to be. As far as I know, they're are not made anymore, unfortunately. Although rather "basic", they look nice & are capable of brewing a very nice cup of coffee.

I've found several Hellem vac pots at various antiques shops, thrift stores & flea markets. Though certainly not ubiquitious, there seem to be a couple around. Still, prices are sometimes rather steep. At the moment I have four of these, two 10-cuppers, a 6-cupper & an 8-cupper set, complete with the original alcohol lamp (pix to follow). I haven't come across a small Hellem so far. If I had, it'd be mine...

Hellem's

The Hellem's I do have are all of the glass bowl type, with a spherical lower bowl & a funnel reminiscent of a flower - very elegant. They are all of the type that has a stand doubling as a handle.

Hellem 10-cupper

This is one of my 10-cuppers - I've put my fav mug next to it for some perspective. The stand is made of stainless steel & some plastic material. The total height of this unit is about 40cm.
My other 10-cupper (check the pic at the top of the page) is almost identical, except it has a dark wooden handle & a matching base - a piece of wood with a place to put the vac pot & alcohol lamp, as well as a vertical tube for the funnel rest in after brewing. Again, functional, but very basic.

Close up of 6-cupper

As you can see in this pic of my 6-cupper, the lower bowl is fixed to the stand with a clamp, that can be tighten with a screw. The inside of the clamp is padded with cork to protect the neck of the bowl.

The use of cork for both the padding, as well as for the gasket, is rather interesting. I have no data on these vacs, but I suspect they aren't really that old - probably under 25 years. The 8-cupper I have (with green lettering) might be a bit older.

Another interesting detail is the construction of the filter contraption. Main part of that is a preforated metal disc covered with string-tied cloth. The cloth makes for a slightly more mellow brew, which is especially noticable with very bright beans, such as light roasted Centrals & Africans. It also leaves a bit less sediment than some other filters (eg. the Bodum Santos disc, or the Cona glass rod).
Although certainly usable, the cloth filter isn't quite my favourite - main downside, in my opinion, is the hassle of cleaning. Besides that, it's hard to find replacements for these today - 'course an old t-shirt works ok (ehmmm, yeah - I tried that), but it probably won't last very long...

This is how the filter is kept in position - attached to the metal disc is a long rod that sits in the funnel. Part where it protrude out of the siphon tube is threaded & locked in place by a small wingnut. I'm told this is the same construction as used in very early Silex'. Again, very old-fashioned, while the Hellem vac pot itself is relatively young.

All these characteristics make the Hellem's interesting, albeit slightly odd, vac pots. I'd say they make a cool addition for a curious collector. Most importantly, however, they're worth having for what they were initially made for - brewing excellent coffee.
Hellem's are certainly capable of doing just that.

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If you know more about these vac pot than I do, please drop a line.

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. Thanks!