Coffee + Physics: The Sunbeam Coffeemaster C50

Last week I posted about the sheer simplicity of the Chemex coffeemaker, but today I’m going to show you the exact opposite end of the spectrum with a how-to and review of the glorious, fully automatic chrome beast that is the Sunbeam Coffeemaster C50.

C50

About a year ago I discovered that Krups had discontinued the filters for my Moka Brew, a coffeemaker I finally loved after two miserable experiences with mold-prone automatic drip machines. So, I began cutting paper filters for it by hand, but decided it would be good to research possible replacements. Through research on coffee aficionado forums I discovered a type of brewing called vacuum brewing that is widely regarded as a gold standard for brewed coffee. With several high-priced new vacuum brewers to choose from, I was surprised to find that some of the most recommended machines were from the 1930s through the 1960s. For a vintage-phile like me, this was the best news possible. I found this Coffeemaster C50—original manual included—on Craigslist.

Booklet

Vacuum brewing goes back hundreds of years, but electric automatic models came onto the scene just before WWII. Makers such as Cory, Proctor Silex and Sunbeam were among the most prominent. Throughout the 1950s, however, vacuum brewers lost market to faster, less expensive electric percolators. Sunbeam introduced the Coffeemaster with model C20 in 1938 and ceased vacuum brewer production with the C50, produced only in 1960. Here it would remain in obscurity until future coffee lovers rediscovered what made these machines so great in the first place: the coffee.

Diagram

Although they may look like exotic percolators, vacuum brewing is very different from percolating. Percolators flash boil water, sending it up a tube to splash over coffee grounds repeatedly. In a vacuum brewer, water heats in the lower chamber creating vapor which, blocked by the upper chamber seal, creates pressure. Eventually enough pressure builds to force the water up the siphon tube into the upper chamber where it combines with the coffee grounds. When the temperature of the lower chamber cools, the water flows back down the tube, ending the brewing process. Unlike the percolator, the water never reaches boiling and brewed coffee is never recirculated through the grounds. For these reasons, many believe that vacuum brewing is one of the best extraction methods for coffee. I had to try it for myself.

Broken-DownThe first step for me was cleaning the machine. With years of built up black coffee residue in the lower chamber and filter, I wasn’t about to drink anything that came out of it. I cleaned the lower chamber with oven cleaner about three times before it shined up to bare chrome. The stainless steel mesh filter was also almost completely black. I ended up using a toothbrush and Goo Gone to break down the oils and get down to the bare metal. After several rinsing cycles, I was ready to test the self-proclaimed “Finest Coffeemaker Made.” Here’s how it’s done:

Add Water

Add Water

First, add water to the lower chamber. On most models, lines up to 10 cups are marked on the inside of the pot.

Add Coffee

Add Coffee

Next, insert the filter rod into the siphon tube of the upper chamber. The end of the filter rod is crooked and simply goes through the siphon tube and hooks over the end. Set the upper chamber on top. Sunbeam Coffeemaster models before the C50 press on, the C50 locks on with two levers. Put the appropriate amount of coffee into the upper chamber.

Switch to Brew

Switch to Brew

Turn the switch toward “Brew.” It will immediately snap back to the center position, but the light will come on to indicate the brewing process has started. It will take a few minutes, but eventually you’ll hear a sudden gurgling noise.

Brewing

Brewing

Once maximum pressure is achieved in the bottom chamber, the water suddenly bubbles up into the top and churns around with the coffee. Perhaps the most fascinating part of watching a 50+ year-old appliance make coffee is the level of automation. Once the appropriate temperature is achieved in the lower chamber and the water leaves, the pot automatically switches itself into warming mode allowing the bottom to cool and the brewed coffee to return.

Complete

Remove upper chamber and serve

After a few minutes of gurgling about, you’ll hear the water rush back toward the bottom. The brewing is complete. The upper chamber can be removed and the coffee is ready to serve. Because I had read so many positive reviews I was anxious to try it, but admittedly skeptical that an all-metal coffeemaker from 1960 with a reusable filter was going to make a half-decent cup. But, here goes nothing. Down the hatch.

Amazing. A super smooth but rich and complex cup of coffee with no bitterness or “bright” taste. In terms of flavor, hands down it beats the Chemex, every drip coffeemaker I’ve ever used and even my Krups Moka Brew. It really is some of the best coffee I’ve ever made at home and I’d recommend one to anyone. That being said, there’s a lot to consider if you’re thinking of adding one of these to your kitchen lineup.

PROS

The obvious pro is the amazing coffee. Quality construction is another solid pro. These things are thick chrome over solid copper and built to last for generations. It’s very likely that with proper maintenance one would last the rest of your natural life. Plus, that’s all wrapped up in timelessly beautiful package. All models feature reusable filters, whether cloth or metal mesh, so there are no paper filters to continually buy or toss out either.

CONS

Vacuum brewers take longer than most modern coffeemakers to brew and that might be a consideration for daily use. The biggest con is the cleanup. It breaks down into four pieces that really should be cleaned after each use. The grounds are loose in the upper chamber and must be rinsed out. The mesh filter almost always has to be cleaned with a small brush to get the sediment off of it. The amount of time required to set it up, brew and clean it would probably be too prohibitive for making a quick travel mug of coffee on workdays. The rubber gasket on the upper chamber can be a drawback as they can dry out and must be replaced. Although the gaskets are becoming easier to find with more interest in the machines.

TIPS

If you’re using a model with a metal mesh filter, use a slightly coarser grind to prevent fine sediment from making it into the brew. Many people recommend the older models C20, C30 and their variants rather than the C5o, claiming that design differences in the C50 cause it to slightly over-brew. I haven’t done the research to see, but I thought the C50 made a great cup. If you’re looking for one, I’d recommend buying in person if possible to be able to verify the condition of the seal.

In the end, I’d recommend this for anyone who truly loves coffee and wants a device capable of producing a large amount of great coffee at one time. Once you get the hang of it, it may just become your favorite way to make coffee at home.

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125 Comments

  1. Patrick Leun
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    I enjoyed reading your blog about the Sunbeam C50. I have a 2 C30’s and I love the coffee they produce. One is mint and I’ve only used a few times, the other one I use quite often. I have a page on Facebook about the Sunbeam vacuum pots. Thanks for sharing your enjoyment with this model!

    • Austin
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Patrick, glad to hear you enjoy yours. They do seem to have a pretty dedicated fan base.

    • Nancy J
      Posted April 14, 2020 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      How do you change the filter. I gave my parents. I decided to use it for memiry sake. Wow what great coffee. I had old filters too but I could remove the point at the end that screws onto the coffee pot bottom that creates the vacuum. Can anyone help me?

  2. Dave
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to disagree with the first “con”. With these coffee makers you can start with hot watt rather than cold water. I use mine daily and it is faster than a drip ( i.e. Mr Coffee type) or my percolator. I can’t see time as a con for these.

    • Austin
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      That’s a fair point, Dave. I think time as a con will probably be relative to the user and their expectations. For me the C50 was a little slower than my drip machine or my Moka Brew, but it made better coffee so I think it’s a fair trade-off. For me the time to clean the machine properly was a bigger drawback than brew time by far. But then I’m used to a Chemex which is about the least cleanup of any coffee maker out there—rinse and go!

    • Jim Black
      Posted January 9, 2016 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Austin, who says that these machines make coffee quickly. I’ve been using them for many years, and daily for the last two years. It’s fast and I love the coffee.

      Three drawbacks do exist. The primary one is clean-up, which is a bit of a pain. It requires about one-half more grounds than my BonaVita (drip, with a cone-shaped basket). And, lastly, my metal filter has become dis-attached from the assembly and a small amount of grounds leak in.

      –Factoid

  3. Mark
    Posted May 15, 2015 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    I collect/use a variety of Sunbeam CofeeMasters/percolators, and can offer the following:

    1.) The C20/C30 seems better suited for smaller quantities (2-4) cups of coffee, as it is a slightly smaller size. I tried to make 6 cups in mine once, and the coffee just wouldn’t all flow back down until removing the upper bowl.
    2.) The C50 is slightly larger, and works well for 4-6 cups. Haven’t used it for larger quantities.

    One maintenance issue: the gasket on the C20/C30 is larger (there is a metal spring inside it I believe) and when it dries out over time, makes it much harder to separate the two bowls.

    Replacements for these are at long…… last….. on the market however, which is terrific. Finding someone to do it for you is another matter. If anyone knows of someone who’ll do the work, I’d LOVE to find a source., as the one on my C30 is starting to dry out. The two handles on the C50 make it a little easier to separate.

    The lower “bowl” on my C30 seems to burn the coffee if you leave it on there for too long. The C50 seems to keep it at a lower temp in “warm” and avoids this problem.

    If you’re a fan of Danish-Modern, MCM designs, the C50 seems to fit in with these. I believe they were designed by a prominent Italian designer (Ianelli?, I could be wrong)

    I also have a GE/Silex glass maker with electric burner, which have to be handled with great care, but put on a fantastic show while brewing.

    THANKS for this nice, well photographed, and entertaining post/report.

    • Leif
      Posted October 10, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      If your C30 is burning the coffee while on low, you can adjust the low temp screw. Instructions are online.

    • Erin
      Posted December 17, 2017 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      Dayseal makes seals for the C30. Dayseal.net

    • Nancy J
      Posted April 14, 2020 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      How do you change the filter. I have my parents. (It’s at least 50 years old). I decided to use it for memory sake. Wow what great coffee. I have old filters too but I couldn’t remove the point at the end that screws onto the coffee pot bottom that creates the vacuum. Can anyone help me?

  4. Neal
    Posted July 13, 2015 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Excellent informative article. I have been using a C30A for a couple years every day now, purchased used on eBay and have accumulated some extras as backups if this should ever fail. Best cup of coffee ever but the seal (I think it’s original) has failed and I will have to order a new one. From my experience:

    – A product called “Dip-It” works incredibly well to remove old coffee stains and residue. It’s still available but is very difficult to find and expensive – but worth it. Go for the POWDER. I haven’t tried the liquid.

    – I find that brew time is the same as for my (now idle) drip machine. I start with cold water.

    – Cory glass filter rods work great with the C30A. They just rinse off and don’t require the intensive cleaning the mesh filters do. They are commonly available on eBay. Can’t say with the C50 but would be worth a try.

    • Neal
      Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      Update to my own post, 5 years later:

      1. “Dip-It” is now defunct. Got sold out, they discontinued the product and re-deployed the brand to something that isn’t the same. The original was a powder intended to remove stains; the rebranding is a liquid Lime-Away that just removes mineral scale deposits. Sucks.
      2. Home remedies are found on the internet. Just yesterday I tried one and it works: Oxiclean. One scoop (a little over 1 tbsp) in the pot, pour in boiling water HALF full (the stuff foams like crazy), soak 15 minutes and rinse. Depending on how badly stained, more cycles or soaking time will be required. But it does work. Another recommendation is Cascade dishwasher detergent which I have not tried.
      3. I am now using a C50 and the Cory glass filter rod works great.

      • Joel
        Posted September 27, 2020 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        Barkeeper’s Friend works fabulously to remove coffee stains and residue. One should be cautious to scrub only long enough to remove the gunk and not the plating over the copper.

  5. Ben
    Posted September 20, 2015 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Hi all – I have 2 C-30 machines and use 1 primarily on weekends, and 1 as a back-up parts spare “just in case.” I love ’em! I just picked up a C50 at a flea market for $6 the other day, but alas, it’s missing the top lid. It’s in really great shape though, shiny, inside and out, inside is very clean, and rubber seal is very pliable and soft. I read the comment where other users found the C50 “overbrews” the coffee a bit, and after using it the first today I see what they mean. It seems like it went through the brew cycle heat setting for quite a long time compared to my C30. When I thought it was all done it actually gurgled and mixed up the coffee brew 1 or 2 more times. And for some reason the coffee did NOT want to drain or get pulled back down into the lower chamber. Yes, I used fairly course ground coffee, I grind it myself, and the levers were locked and seal good between the 2 chambers, not sure what happened there. But it just didn’t want to go back down at all. I even released the levers thinking the seal was TOO good. Still not much of a help, the coffee just dripped out of the spout. The C50 has a 2-part filter, a coarser top perforated filter over the fine mesh lower filter. My C30 only has the fine mesh filter. So not sure if I’ll keep this guy, if I can find a lid for it I might, but I’m sure that’s about as scarce as hens teeth to locate on ebay etc. Does anyone have any leads or suggestions on where I might find or search for one besides ebay? Anyway, reading the comments and info was fun, thanks!

    • Gayle
      Posted December 2, 2019 at 8:20 am | Permalink

      With the Sunbeam C50 – the gasket is tightened by pushing down the two flap handles on the upper part to create the seal.

    • Dan
      Posted May 10, 2020 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      While the two halves are together, unplug the unit and run cold water over the lower vessel. This will create vacuum needed to pull the liquid into the lower vessel.

      • imljh2os
        Posted May 10, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        I often see C20 and C30s on eBay, the C50s can be tougher to find.

        There is a C50 Coffeemaster for sale on line this morning; just the base, lid and cord for $30. I read where someone needs a C50 lid; this could be a good purchase for parts.

        There is also a complete C50 for sale for $69.88. Includes ALL parts, including the tough-to-find metal filter. Looks pretty good. (I would buy it, but I already have extra part, and my pot is in great condition.)

    • Jim Black/Factoid
      Posted May 10, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Ben
      What you describe sounds like a leaking seal. The standard cause for the water not getting fully sucked down into the lower pot is that the seal is not good between the two pots. When you released the “wings,” you broke the seal and your C50 definitely turned into a drip pot at that time.

      The extra couple of burbles happen because there is a thermostat which detects temperatures greater than the boiling point of water. That con only happen when all of the water has evaporated in the lower pot (steam can be >100 degrees, but water cannot. The heating element then shuts off,and the lower pot begins to cool. Some of the steam in the bottom pot cools to 100 (degrees Celsius, of course). So water again boils, turns to steam, and the water is pushed back up. A few seconds later this happens again, maybe three times total, then the bottom pot has all cooled to less than boiling, and the vacuum sucks the coffee down. It’s expected, and a normal part of operation.

      Try brewing a pot of two of plain water and check if it drains down promptly. With th extra little burbles, which are expected.

      BTW, Coffeemasters are designed to take a little while to infuse the coffee. I, therefore, use a fairly coarse grind.

  6. Sheldon
    Posted October 21, 2015 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    I have a C50 with a base that leaks water into the heating element below. Does anyone know where I can get it repaired?

  7. Kimmy
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Thank you all for such helpful comments. Just received my first C20 and will attempt my first brew today. Wanted to share a bit of my experience with old coffee stain. Oxi-clean powder and boiling water. Sit whatever needs cleaning in that solution and watch it do the work; works great on mesh filters without scrubbing.

    I also read that simmering the old seal in water will bring back its flexibility. Has anyone tried this? It does not seem logical to me but then again …

  8. Debra Kunkel
    Posted December 5, 2015 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    On the C30 model it is important to know that there is a tiny hole on the rod for the spring to connect to. The hole is near the top of the rod so the hook on the spring must go in that hole. I had to really look for the hole. The coffee pot will not work correctly if the spring is not connected properly.

    • Maggie Acuff
      Posted June 13, 2017 at 1:02 am | Permalink

      The hole that you’re referring to is a vapor hole, according to Sunbeam, & it is not for attaching the spring. It sounds like your filter assembly is not correctly put together. I have several C30s & C20s. In the C30s the filter rod pushes on the spring which allows you to push the rod through the tube assembly & hook it onto the narrow end.

      I hope that you are enjoying this wonderful vacuum coffeemaker as much as I am.

  9. gregor
    Posted December 19, 2015 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    We love ours , where do we find the rubber replacement parts?
    thanks!

    • BamBam
      Posted January 26, 2016 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      Gregor, if you have not found out yet, there is a company in Florida that makes various replacement gaskets. They can be found at Dayseal.net

      I ordered a replacement main gasket and secondary seal for my C30B, but it has not yet arrived. I will report my experience after it arrives and I replace the gaskets.

      • Jim Black
        Posted January 26, 2016 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        I also buy my seals from Dayseal. I am very happy with them. The materials they use now will last for many, many decades.

        My biggest problem, now that I have new, long lasting, seals, is my filter. I much prefer the very fine stainless steel mesh filters that Sunbeam made. They are permanent, and do not affect the flavor of the coffee.

        I have never found a source for these. My one and only coup was to find one that was NOS (new old stock). It’s a dream, and I no longer get ANY fine grounds in my coffee. When it breaks, I will be back to crunchy coffee for the last cup or two. Sigh.

  10. Patti Hanson
    Posted December 25, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    I have a c 20. What kind of filter do I need to get for it and are there any substitutes for filters

    • Maggie Acuff
      Posted June 13, 2017 at 1:18 am | Permalink

      Hi Patti,
      You can use Melitta round flat paper filters. You will need to use two-at-a-time to keep out the grounds. They can be purchased on Amazon. I have not had a lot of luck using the original cotton filters. I also use a small fine strainer when I serve the coffee & that solves that problem.

      I love my C20s but I get more grounds & sediment from them as opposed to the C30s.

      • Captain Factoid
        Posted June 13, 2017 at 9:07 am | Permalink

        Hi Debra, Pattie & Snag.

        What Debra is referring to is the mechanism used to hold the spring in place for later types of C30. The C30C, and possibly a C30A or -B use this mechanism. The original C30, which I have sitting next to me, has a pinched rod. A small round spacer plate at the top of the spring keeps it in place. The follow-on pots have the tiny little hole that the spring must hook into.

        I am not sure what mechanism the -A and -B models use. I only have a C30 and a C30C. Possibly the C30A has the pinched rod mechanism, and I think the C30B has the tiny hole in the rod. If your pot has the tiny hole, you need a spring with a very small 90 degree bend in the top end. If your pot has the pinched rod, the spring should never come off, but is not easy to replace if it does.

        The model number of all Coffeemasters is printed on a small plate on the very bottom of the lower pot. I believe the C30C is the most common these days. I don’t think all that many original C30’s (no letter) were made. I have one, and it’s a museum piece – never been used. Eat your hearts out.

  11. Mark Richardson
    Posted March 19, 2016 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    What a hoot to read about these coffee makers! Here I thought that the new purchase was a percolator! Matching the photos, it appears I bought a C-30C model–I had rinsed it out and was doing a test run so I couldn’t very well pick it up and look at the bottom for a model number! It’s in pretty good shape and the rubber gasket between the two pots is in good shape as well. I had a better cord from another pot to use and the test run seemed to work out okay, but lacking an owner’s manual, I have to ask–how long does a regular run last? This will join a trio of percolators (a Universal Coffeematic pot #4460; a glass stove top Pyrex #7759B 9-cup and an aluminum Wearever #5063 that’s also a stove top pot) for weekend coffee-making chores. My weekdays are held down by a cheap Black & Decker 4-cup drip maker.

  12. D.Carroll Newport
    Posted March 20, 2016 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    Cool! Looking forward to hearing about how it works!

  13. gardenangel42
    Posted April 16, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Found this posting yesterday when looking up info on several “vintage” cooking related items I have in my pantry. My late husband was a branch manager trainee and service technician for Sunbeam Appliance Service Company when we married in 1963. His wedding gift to me was four Sunbeam kitchen appliances; one of which was the c50 coffeemaker just like the one in the photo. The other three were the chrome model of the Mixmaster, the chrome model of waffle iron with reversible grids for pancakes or waffles, and the chrome two slot “Vista” radiant Shade Control toaster. The Mixmaster moved on to a new young family 15 years ago when I replaced it with a KitchenAid mixer. The coffeemaker was put away in the pantry in the 1980 – 2000 period when we went through several of the popular automatic drip coffeemakers. The toaster has been in service all the time. I’m an only and family lives all over US, so the griddle has not seen much service in the last 15 years, but it still makes awesome toasted cheese sandwiches.

    These appliances were so beautiful that I always have taken very good care of them. We started our marriage on a shoe string so they were like status symbols at the time. Later he brought home the chrome blender with attachments, which is also still in service.

    The C50 is my only large capacity coffee maker and is used every now and then when I have friends over for parties. There are always remarks about how good the coffee is. I’m lucky to have a replacement filter my husband brought home many years ago, just in case.

    • Vivian Randazzo
      Posted September 7, 2016 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      We are looking for a coffee filter for our C50 coffee maker would you be interested in selling me your extra coffee filter

  14. Richard Gee
    Posted November 4, 2016 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    The Sunbeam coffee master was tops on my want list when we married 60 years ago.
    My parents had one and so did all my aunts and uncles.
    Still use ours every day.

    • Jim Black
      Posted November 4, 2016 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      I use my C30 every day as well. Of course I would use a C50 if I had one, but the C30 is what I’ve got.

      If anyone knows where to get a new stainless steel filter, please share that information. I know that one day I get a tiny hole in mine, and it will be gritty coffee forever after.

      –Captainfactoid/Jim Black

  15. Jim Lauck
    Posted January 14, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    A comment about brewing time on the C50: It is adjustable. There is a hex head screw in the base of the unit. One must first remove the bakelite base from the lower bowl. Remove the hex screw in the middle of the bottom. Then you must remove the two hex nuts from the electrical prongs. The bakelite base will now slip off. You will see a 6-32 machine screw with a hex head on the contact assembly. Turning this screw to the right pushes the contact assembly closer to the bi-metallic strip and shortens the brewing time (shuts off faster). Turning the screw to the left (counterclockwise) lengthens the brewing time. I recommend turning the screw only 1/2 turn at a time, putting it all back together and do a test run with only water. My C50 pushes the all the water up and switches off within 5 to 10 seconds. It pulls down in less than a minute. Bought mine at the Salvation Army for $1 in the early 1970’s. If you take care of it, it lasts forever and makes great coffee.

    • Jim Black
      Posted January 14, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Jim Lauck. That is one of the most useful Internet posts I have ever encountered.

      –Captainfactoid/Jim Black

    • John Malm
      Posted May 13, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Thank you, I was hoping to find some info on the C50 before I tear into it!!

  16. Northpamet
    Posted March 21, 2017 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    What a great posting! One question: Do you know if the round part under the mesh for is aluminum? Many thanks! Northpamet

  17. Billy Nage
    Posted April 19, 2017 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Regarding the C-50, do you know if there’s any way to take apart the upper bowl for cleaning? I don’t really need to do this but I was wondering. Turning the cone shaped tube doesn’t release anything, as with the other models with a cone tube, if you reverse turn them the tube comes out through the bowl and the gasket is released.

    My C50 has a fine gasket which is supple and not at all dried out, but I was just wondering if the whole thing comes apart for cleaning.

    Thanks for the information you posted regarding the C50.

  18. Posted August 3, 2017 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    After years of using Cory and Silex glass vacuum pots, I am going to splurge on a Sunbeam CoffeeMaster. Being a newbie to these wonderfully retro metal pots, I was hopeful that someone would explain the differences between models. I see that one of your reader mentions C30, A, B and C. Does anyone have an opinion on the better of these pots?
    Thank you in advance, and it has been my experience that a great cup of coffee is best served in a Victor Mug.
    All the best,
    Jay

    • Jim Black/Factoid
      Posted August 3, 2017 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

      The differences in the C30, the C30A, the C30B, and the C30C are not immediately obvious. The shape is the same. There are a few differences that do not seem to affect the way it functions, and one which does.

      Mostly cosmetic:
      The C30 has a metal lid, and the C30C has a bakelite one. I’m not sure when this changed, but I think the C30A and B also have bakelite.
      The C30C has a slightly different look to the High/Low button compared to the C30. I am also not sure when this changed.
      The power cord for the C30 is insulated with silk; the C30C is plastic. Silk is the type of cloth used for electrical insulation prior to WWII, and stayed in use for a time after the war, until manufacturing and designs could be changed. I love those old cloth cords, but they are scarcer than hen’s teeth these days. Most old coffee pots have had the cords replaced with plastic insulated ones.

      The Difference that Matters:
      The filter design changed radically. The C30 had a cloth filter held in place by a metal framework. The framework and filter were held tightly in place by a spring, and that spring was kept compressed by a pinch in the rod. The C30A might have used this same design.

      The C30C had a mesh of stainless steel, and a secondary coarse filter which functioned as a pre-filter to keep the great majority of the grounds from clogging up the fine mesh filter. The spring which holds this filter in place has a very small right-angle bend at the top, and there is a teeny little hole drilled in the rod to accept it. For the record, I love these filters, but the mesh often comes undone from the rod, allowing some grounds to get through. The dual stage filter is a winner in my book, and I prefer steel to cloth. Cloth filters which can be used on the C30 are still made, however.

      I think that either the C30A or C30B had a single stage metal filter, not quite as fine a mesh as the C30C.

      More comments on the filter/rod assemblies can be found above. My comments were made under the pen name “Captain Faction.” You can recognize them because I cannot give a short answer to any quesiton.

      • Posted August 4, 2017 at 6:01 am | Permalink

        Thank you for the clarification. The length of your response is greatly appreciated.
        Jay

      • Erin
        Posted December 17, 2017 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

        Are the C30 A & B an interchangeable size? I have a B (purchased second hand and trying to refurb) when I realized that it wasn’t staining in the bottom, but worn away plating. 🙁 I don’t know if it should be used with plating work away (copper showing). Any thoughts on that, first thing? Second, if I SHOULDN’T use the bottom part due to worn plating …could I get a C30A base and the top of the C30B would still fit??

  19. Gerson Lessa
    Posted August 5, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Just bought one today, perfect, working and complete with cable and manual, for about $30 here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Thanks for the tips!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/galessa

  20. Gerson Lessa
    Posted August 5, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    I forgot I had a doubt. Although everything is perfect, the bakelite lid fits perfectly only to the lower part; it does not snap to the upper part, sitting dangerously loose up there. Any clues?

    • JIm Black/Factoid
      Posted August 6, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

      The lids never fit tightly t the top. Lids have to fit tightly to the bottom, because the official way to pour coffee is to do so with the lid on. You can see a woman pouring this way in some ads they had in the ’40s and ’50s, and also in the first 3D movie “It Came From Outer Space.” Always a woman pouring coffee for a man, of course.

      The lid does not have to fit tightly to the top. It only has to stay on when the water in the top part burbles about. In my C30, my C30C, and my C50, there are a pair of small nylon balls in the lids that keep them from popping off. The fit is very loose, however. I think this is a design feature because you need to be able to get that lid off the top soon after it finishes brewing. If it were hard to remove, you might burn your fingers while you wrestled with it.

  21. Shirley Peak
    Posted September 15, 2017 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    I gave my mom a new C30a Sunbeam Coffeemaster in 1954. I have it now and haven’t used it in several decades. After reading your postings I will use it this evening and see if it still works. I have the complete set which includes a large chrome tray with the matching sugar and creamer. However I do not have the instruction manual. Is there any preferred grind and how much coffee is used for each eight ounces?

    Thanks for your help.
    Shirley Peak

    • Jim Black/Factoid
      Posted September 16, 2017 at 2:38 am | Permalink

      Shirley,

      I use five coffee scoops (1/8 cup, 2 oz, 4 Tbls each) for a full pot, and never brew a half pot. You will find, by the way, that Coffeemasters keep the coffee hot for an extended period without burning it. The C30 series is very good at quickly reheating a half pot while keeping the taste quite good. The C50 will keep coffee hot, but takes a half hour or more to heat it up. I’ll explain the reason for that last if anyone asks.

      The grind to use always depends primarily on how long the infusion time is. If the grinds will be in contact with the water for a longer period, then a courser grind can and should be used. The infusion time on these pots varies a bit, but is usually on the longer side. Assuming this is true for your C30A, a somewhat coarser grind would be appropriate.

      The other factor affecting the grind is how fine the filter is. The C30C has a stainless steel filter which is easier to clean, but is not as fine as the cloth filters used on the original C30. If I use a fine grind in my C30C, there will be a bit of “fines” in the bottom of the pot.

      Note that the infusion time on the C30 and C50 series is adjustable. See Jim Lauck’s excellent comment above for details.

  22. ljh2os
    Posted October 30, 2017 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    I just purchased a C50 Sunbeam Coffeemaster. It hasn’t arrived yet, but… can’t wait to receive it. My mom and dad had one of these in the 60s, and always claimed it made the best tasting, yet clearest coffee ever. I found a replacement cord (original, but still in good condition), and I know where I can get a spare gasket. But where can I get a spare filter? I only want to have these on hand in case I need them. Thanks.

    • Captain Factoid
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      I wish I knew where to get replacement filters for the various versions of Coffeemaster. It’s the one problem that no one seems to be able to solve.

      What nearly always happens is that the center of the filter, where it is bonded to the rod, comes loose. This allows grounds to leak through and get in the coffee. Only a small portion of the grounds get through, but it’s irritating as can be.

      If anyone knows of someone who makes replacement filters, please let us all know. I am thinking of trying a high-temperature food grade epoxy to fix my filter. If that works, I’ll post about it.

  23. ljh2os
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    One more question; does that owner manual give the actual part number for the filter?

    Thanks again!!

  24. Austin
    Posted October 31, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    I just have to say that I am so pleased and impressed that after 3 years this blog post has become a community of sorts for CoffeeMaster enthusiasts! I’ll be honest, I rarely use mine (a gas station nearby has great coffee that’s cheap—convenience won out) but I keep it and the Chemex around for special occasions. Thanks particularly to Jim Black/Captain Factoid for keeping our readers informed!

    • ljh2os
      Posted October 31, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      Oh my goodness Austin. I can’t imagine gas station coffee coming even close to home brewed coffee, made in one of your fabulous pots.

      Slow down!! Be good to yourself! Take the time! You are worth good coffee over convenience. 😀

      Thanks for starting this little forum.

  25. Richard Gee
    Posted December 9, 2017 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

     When I was   a teenager, 75 years ago, every branch of my extended family had a Sunbeam Coffeemaster.
        When I approached marriage, 60 years ago, I let my family know that a Sunbeam Coffeemaster was at the top of my preferred wedding gifts.
        We were given one, which we still have. We have since bought and use one of the newer, faster coffee makers.
    The like-new Sunbeam brewer sits on storage shelves; however it still works well– we use it when we have need of a lot of coffee.

    • Captain Factoid
      Posted December 9, 2017 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      When you no longer need your Coffeemaster, please be sure that it gets sold on eBay or wherever. There are people out here who prize them and want one. It is, for example, a link to my ’50s era past – when I was a young ‘un.

      I, myself, do not need your vacuum pot. I have three Coffeemasters, including a still in the box museum quality piece. Somebody will want that, however.

  26. Richard Gee
    Posted December 9, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

     When I was   a teenager, 75 years ago, every branch of my extended family had a Sunbeam Coffeemaster.
        When we approached marriage, 60 years ago, I let my family know that a Sunbeam Coffeemaster was among my preferred wedding gifts.
        We were given one, which we still have. Albeit, with the advent of the newer, faster coffee makers, the like-new brewers sits on storage shelves.

  27. ljh2os
    Posted December 9, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I got the pot. It works perfectly, so these machines MUST be made well. Gasket and filter in great shape. I always use really good coffee, and this C50 makes it very rich, but not bitter.
    As for “time”, to me it is worth the extra 10 – 15 minutes. When we have company over, I start the pot as we sit down to dinner. It doesn’t really take all that long (in my opinion), and I always have a fresh cup ready for anyone who likes an after-dinner coffee. Or perhaps coffee with a splash of Baileys.
    It is so lovely sitting on the counter, bubbling away. I have had many positive comments about its looks, and the taste of the coffee. I am getting and extra gasket in case I ever need one. Something very comforting to me about making coffee in this pot. Must be the memories!

  28. Rick Gee
    Posted January 4, 2018 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    When we were being married, 61 years ago, a Sunbeam Coffeemaster was first on my gift list.
    My folks, and my Aunts & Uncles all had them.
    We still use ours & cleaning is no problem at all.

  29. Claudia Franklin
    Posted January 4, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    My mother used a metal vacuum pot back in the 60’s. It was a stovetop model. She still swears to the quality of the coffee! I passed on the Sunbeam Electric at a vintage shop in Rhode Island because the store manager would not allow me to test whether it worked. Maybe I should be kicking myself!

  30. Enrique CC
    Posted February 12, 2018 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Hello everyone,
    I just got a C50 in great condition, I got it for a steal $10 bucks and well, to say the least I saw that it had all the parts and immediately got it on my hands before someone looked me that I was eyeing it for a while.
    I got it home, I’ve cleaned it as some other people recommended online, first brew with baking soda and then a second brew with vinegar.
    It works like it is supposed to do.
    But because I don’t have the instructions I don’t know how much coffee I need to add per cup.
    By any chance would you have a copy of the instruction manual?
    I normally brew my coffee using a french press, but I’m dying to try the “perfect cup of coffee every time” with my new vintage C50.
    Thank you!
    And happy brewing.

    • imljh2os
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      Hi Enrique –
      I too have the full size C50. For a full pot, I use 3 scoops; a scoop being about 1.5 – 2 tablespoons. I could probably use a bit less, but I love a strong coffee. With these pots, the coffee sits in the water for about 10 – 15 minutes at a slow bubble. It really pulls the flavor out of the coffee, much more than the current day “drip through the filter” pots.
      It does take longer than modern pots, but for me, well worth the wait. If you want to speed the process up, heat the water in a hot pot first, and pour it in the C50.
      Congratulations on your great deal! You are going to love the coffee. Plus, these pots look great just sitting on the counter. Enjoy!!

      (a fellow coffee master in Durango, CO)

      • Enrique
        Posted February 14, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

        WOW! Thank you Jim for your message.
        I’ll keep experimenting with my C50 until I get it right.
        All the best!

    • Austin
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

      Hi Enrique, I use 2 tbsp per 6 oz of water and I use espresso roast. It makes for very strong coffee—exactly the way I like it!

      • Enrique
        Posted February 14, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        Thank you Austin for your message.
        I’ll keep experimenting with my C50 until I get it right. Espresso roast sounds very interesting now… thank you.
        All the best!

    • Jim Black
      Posted February 12, 2018 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

      I use maybe a bit more coffee then I do with a French Press, ground finer. Specifically, I use 5 standard (1/8th cup) scoops for a full pot. Personally, I never brew a smaller amount in a vacuum pot. This is more than one other respondent, but I think my thermostat is set a bit lower. The coffee infuses for about 6 minutes.

      Note that a full pot means that the lower pot is almost but not quite full. You need to leave a bit of room for the big rubber gasket and the metal spout. Also, for the record, it is standard in the coffee business to grind coffee finer for a short infusion time and coarser for a long infusion. That’s a quality thing, not a strength thing. I guess that finely ground coffee that infuses for too long grows bitter.

      I’m not sure you will get better coffee than in your French Press. They are hard to beat (impossible, in my opinion). It will, however, be terrific, and it will connect you to people who lived generations ago and did the very best they could to make coffee as well as they could. I think that is pretty neat.

      Plus, there is the technology. It’s truly amazing to watch that coffee suddenly get sucked down into the lower pot.

      –Jim (aka Captainfactoid).

      • Enrique
        Posted February 14, 2018 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        Thank you Jim for your message.
        I’ll keep experimenting with my C50 until I get it right.
        You are right about the French Press, they are phenomenal!
        But now that I have my beautiful C50 I want to get is right since I think that the process and the looks of it is soo cool hehe.
        I’ll never get rid of my French Press it is soo classic!
        All the best!

  31. John Malm
    Posted May 13, 2018 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I have owned a C30 forever, it was my grandmothers… she bought it new.
    I bought a mint condition C50 recently, and I love it, but it seems the coffee is too hot…
    I can find instructions on how to set the thermostat on the C30, but I cannot find anything on the C50, anyone have this information?

    • Jim Black
      Posted May 13, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Those directions are in a previous comment from Jim Lauck. Here is a re-post in full:

      Jim Lauck
      Posted January 14, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink
      A comment about brewing time on the C50: It is adjustable. There is a hex head screw in the base of the
      unit. One must first remove the bakelite base from the lower bowl. Remove the hex screw in the middle of
      the bottom. Then you must remove the two hex nuts from the electrical prongs. The bakelite base will now
      slip off. You will see a 6-32 machine screw with a hex head on the contact assembly. Turning this screw to
      the right pushes the contact assembly closer to the bi-metallic strip and shortens the brewing time (shuts
      off faster). Turning the screw to the left (counterclockwise) lengthens the brewing time. I recommend
      turning the screw only 1/2 turn at a time, putting it all back together and do a test run with only water. My
      C50 pushes the all the water up and switches off within 5 to 10 seconds. It pulls down in less than a
      minute. Bought mine at the Salvation Army for $1 in the early 1970’s. If you take care of it, it lasts forever
      and makes great coffee.

      • Ben
        Posted January 26, 2019 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        Hey Jim- Good info on the adjustment, I needed to do that to my C50, it was not kicking down to the low/warm cycle quick enough. Thanks! Now, do you know if or how you can adjust the low or warm temp at all on a C50? The problem is once it kicks down to the warm cycle it seems to take forever for the brew to return to the lower chamber. And once it starts to try, I get several overbrew cycles, as the upper chamber brew starts to descend, hits the still super hot lower chamber and then gets pushed right back up into the upper chamber. This cycle will occur 3-4 times before finally being sucked down into the lower chamber once it cools enough, but by then it’s been overbrewed more or less and is too strong. I hate to have to resort to unplugging the unit once all the water is in the upper chamber but until I can figure out how to adjust the warm cycle that’s kind of my only option. Any suggestions on how to either cool the lower chamber heating element quicker or adjust it somehow to quicken the brew cycle? The coffee brew is sitting in the upper chamber way too long. Thanks!

  32. Martin Edelson
    Posted September 11, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Just found a 30A Model in, what looks like, very pristine condition and cleaned it and plugged it in with about 4 cups of water in the base unit but no coffee in the upper unit. I wanted to see what would happen.

    The water boiled fairly quickly but the heating seemed uncontrolled. The boiling was so violent that it displaced the metal mesh filter and some water actually flowed out of the black top piece out of the unit. At that point I unplugged the power.

    Questions: How do I assemble the upper chamber components? The upper chamber assembly I have held a variety of objects: a metal mesh filter that is surrounded by a black rubber washer. There are 4 metal prongs on the metal mesh filter holder but they don’t seem to be the right diameter to fit snuggly into anything. There is also what looks like a coffee basket, with perforations at the base an a small slot cut near the top. It has no “top” piece. This too does not seem to be the right diameter to fit snuggly with anything. Finally there is the rod that goes from the lower chamber to the upper. Each of the two pieces I described has a hole to permit the rod through.

    Unfortunately I do not have the full set of instructions for this coffeemaker. Any help with the above would be appreciated. If requested I can provide photos of any or all of the abovementioned pieces.

    • Enrique Covarrubias
      Posted September 13, 2018 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      Hi Martin,
      When I used my C50 for the first time something like that happened, but quickly I’ve discovered that I didn’t attached the stem with the filter properly into the funnel like pipe where the water goes to the upper chamber.
      See that stem with the filter has like a small bend a hook like on the actual wire/stem.
      That has to get hooked onto that funnel and will keep the filter into place ensuring that the coffee grinds will not get into the lower chamber.
      Here is a super helpful tutorial on a youtube video:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sitni3iNHqw
      Just before the minute 3 he explains how to attach the filter propperly to the upper chamber.

      Hopefully you’ll find this helpful and get to enjoy this incredible machines.
      I was super lost with finding the right amount of coffee per cup of coffee, I purchased a “Barista coffee scoop”.
      https://www.kitchenstuffplus.com/ksp-barista-coffee-scoop-stainless-steel

      Cheers,
      Enrique CC.

    • Captain Factoid
      Posted September 17, 2018 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Another complete but lengthy answer from Captain Factoid (aka Jim Black):

      I think if you assemble the components correctly, your C30A will work.

      Background:
      The fine mesh fits loosely in the hole leading to the lower pot. The metal prongs don’t fit tightly – they are only there to ensure that the fine mesh screen is approximately centered over the hole. Sunbeam realized that coffee grounds would clog up this fine mesh, so they put a second course mesh screen over the top of it. The coarse mesh catches 90% of the grounds, and the fine mesh catches what gets through.

      On the A version of the C30, I am pretty sure the coarse mesh is a disk. Starting with the B or C version, a coarse mesh cage about 2 cm high was used. The concept is the same, with the cage being slightly more effective.

      The inner rod has a hook on the bottom. Set it to catch the bottom of the descending cylinder. This holds the two meshes in place. The rubber ring on the lower mesh (the fine one) seals against the bottom of the top pot, thus ensuring that every bit of coffee must go through that mesh. A spring keeps it held in place. If there is absolutely no hole in this mesh, the system is quite effective at filtering out all grounds. Since these filters are old, they often come loose at the very center, which lets a little bit of fines through. Let me know if you find anyone who makes replacements for this filter. I would buy half a dozen.

      If memory serves, the spring on a C30A is held in place by a pinch in the inner rod. In the C30B and C, the end of the spring is pushed through a tiny hole in the rod. If it comes out, it is not hard to poke the end of the spring back into the hole. Not relevant to you, though, because you have a pinched rod and the spring never comes loose.

      The Coffeemaster C30s all have two thermostats. One is set to about 220 degrees Fahrenheit, and the other to about 160 to hold the coffee at a good drinking temperature. A lever on the bottom can be used to force which thermostat is used. To the left is the high temperature, which is used for brewing. After brewing, it automatically clicks to the lower temperature position.

      OPERATION:

      The water in the bottom pot boils vigorously until all of the water is out of the lower pot. Steam pressure will keep all of water in the top, and the water will self-agitate from the steam, which does a great job of infusing the coffee.

      At this point, the temperature has risen above the boiling point of water (100 degrees or 212 degrees). This triggers the high temperature thermostat, which clicks the tab, activating the lower temperature thermostat. The water will continue to burble in the top for a minute or more, until the bottom pot drops below the boiling point of water. When that happens, the steam in the bottom converts to a tiny amount of liquid water, and there is a vacuum created in the lower pot. It is very strong, and drags the coffee through the mesh filter system is a few seconds. Voila! great coffee. If your pot takes several minutes to suck the water down, your vacuum seal is leaking. You then have a drip grind pot, not a vacuum pot.

      The “keep warm” thermostat mode will keep the coffee hot and fresh for an hour or more. On all C30 models, it is also the best solution known to me for re-heating coffee. Way better than a microwave.

      I own a C30 model A. Later today I will take a look at it and revise this answer if needed. Reply with follow-on questions – I will get an email and respond.

      –Jim

  33. Schlitzie Small
    Posted September 16, 2018 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    I purchased a C30-C, and a C30-A. I got the first one for $1.99 and the other for $10 (I only got the 2nd because I needed a cover for the 1st one). Makes one of the finest brews I’ve ever had. The C30-A had the original cord, but it broke, so I ordered a new one. But very happy with my purchases!

  34. ljh2os
    Posted October 29, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Anyone in need of a spare filter for a C30? I was looking for one for my C50, and saw this on Ebay today. I would grab it in a heartbeat if it fit my pot!

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/VTG-SUNBEAM-COFFEEMASTER-C30C-VACUUM-COFFEE-POT-ORIGINAL-FILTER-PART/123372161595?hash=item1cb98dca3b:g:DD8AAOSwIFRbnbxr:rk:16:pf:0

    • ljh2os
      Posted October 29, 2018 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Oops – so sorry about posting this. I went ahead and purchased it, because I was told it would fit my C50. If it doesn’t, I will re-post and let you know.

    • Jim Black (Factoid)
      Posted October 29, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      Thanks, ljh20s. I didn’t get it, but someone bought that filter 3 minutes after you posted it. I strongly suspect it was the result of your post. Considering that I already have a C-30 filter is new condition, it seems fair.

      –Jim Black/Captainfactoid

  35. Lindy
    Posted November 30, 2018 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    I have a C30c and i need to replace the hardened gasket. It works perfectly when I soften the rubber with hot water, but only stays soft temporarily. I have ordered the replacement gasket along with the secondary inner gasket. Does anyone know how the gasket breaks down to get the inner metal piece and the piece the tube screws into apart? I hate to ruin the one i have as it does work fine once it is soft. It is just ridiculous to have to take it all apart to “boil” it beforehand.. Any advice is greatly appreciated. I have the sunbeam vintage toaater that works perfectly and they look fantastic sitting in my counter.

    • Jim Black (Factoid)
      Posted December 1, 2018 at 12:41 am | Permalink

      I believe that on the C30C the center hollow post, the part which sticks down into the bottom pot, is threaded and screws into the top pot. You may not need to replace it, but if you do, try heating it to soften the seal, then grab hold of that post (gently!) with a channel wrench and unscrew it.

      An Internet search engine may find proper directions for this procedure.

      I am quite sure that the replacement seal will be made of silicone. It will never grow brittle like the original ones do. Sadly, however, the silicone imparts a slight but detectable flavor to the coffee. At least, I think it does.

  36. Lindy
    Posted December 1, 2018 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    After i unscrew the funnel that goes down into the bottom pot, i am left with a gasket that has an inner ring with the metal piece with the threading. That is the part im not sure how to disassemble. I assume it comes apart. Just want to be sure before i firce and ruin it.

    • Jim Black (Factoid)
      Posted December 1, 2018 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      Here’s the complete repair manual:

      http://www.jitterbuzz.com/furn/Coffeemaster_C30B-C_Repair_Manual_sm.pdf

      Unfortunately, the manual does not assume that you have a pot that is 75 years old, with parts that have slowly cemented together over the years. Steps like “Remove the Seat Ring Spring with a pair of long nose pliers and push out the Retaining Cup” may not be all that easy to accomplish.

      Still, this is the official repair guide. It at least shows all of the parts in good drawings.

      Best of luck!

      P. S. All Coffeemaster models up, but not including the C50, are wondrous for re-heating coffee. Leave off the top top, put the thermostat on low, and fill with as much old coffee as you wish to re-heat. The heating element will heat quickly, but thermostat will prevent burning. Wait for two or more heating cycles (you can hear them) if you want your coffee fully hot. A microwave for 10 seconds at the end may or may not be needed, depending on exactly where the thermostat is set. Try it – it’s a good alternative to microwaving a cup of coffee, which burns the heck out of it.

      • david e. wells sr
        Posted December 7, 2018 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

        the new seal rings from dayseal.com or e bay sold by dayseal.com work great and do not require the metal spring from the old seal ring. ( metal spring to big to reinstall anyway in new gasket/seal ring and a pita ).they sale for the c20’s, c30’s and c 50’s sell for ~ 29.00/each with free shipping on ebay. the secondary seals for the c-20’s and 30’s are listed on the dayseal site for ~3.00/each +s/h, but are not listed on e-bay. i found a cheaper secondary seal using rubber o-rings noted further below. you will still reinstall the retaining piece and tube.good time to replace the secondary seal also available from dayseal if needed.( i bought a pack of rubber o-rings for old school gm distributor shafts from advance auto parts to sub for the secondary gasket. several in a pack for ~ 2.00 and easy to replace with retainer and tube out )getting the old gasket off the 30’s is a pita. i used a wooden door shim from lowe’s about 3.00/pack and useful for many things besides shimming doors and windows up.you will have to use a hammer or screwdriver handle to wedge it in at the upper bowl bottom to carefully to get old gasket off of same i used 3 on mine like a triangle to get the seal assembly off w/o damaging the pot.( gotta be careful as the both the upper and lower pots are made of chrome plated copper that is easy to damage and hard to fix dents and cave ins of same )i also did this on a old bath towel folded many times to cushion pot. carefully pry out or remove retainer from old seal. this is soft metal and easy to damage or screw up threads that the tube goes into. i had to break off most of the old seal to get a spot to pry retainer out. throw the old seal and retainer ring in the trash. you won’t need it. clean tube and retainer good, put tube back into pot, roll o-ring on as far as it will go( like putting on a condom),put retainer into new seal bottom part and carefully thread and tighten same up by hand only. ( no monkey wrenches please )test by putting coffeemaster back together, push down on upper pot gentally to finish seating seal ring and run thru a couple of cycles to leak check. may need to tight seal/ring assembly just a little bit more. don’t need much. should only be hand tight to make removal easy in the future.( my pots show evidence of monkey wrenches used on the tubes )good time to clean the coffeemaker with URNEX,DIP-IT or similar cleaners. follow package directions,the cleaning solution and run 3 cycles with fresh water each time to flush out cleaner from pots.4 cycles total. put the strainer in the pot before cleaning. chances are it’s grungy and needs a cleaning. you can order urnex from amazon. powder, tablets, etc are listed for sale. get a brush set for cleaning the tube at amazon and a cheap swab for the bowls at dollar general, family dollar, fred’s or wal-mart. makes cleaning the coffeemaster easier.if your coffeemaster is super cruddy, the lower pots in particular,you can let it soak in the cleaner for a while without fear of damage from the cleaner. i’d remove the upper pot and filter assembly and rinse it out good however. my comment above was my experience. i own 2 c30’s and 2 c-50’s. they make a damn good cup of coffee. hope this info is helpful to y’all. these are great coffeemakers and built to last unlike the chinese coffee makers at wally world.

  37. Lindy
    Posted December 2, 2018 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much for the info.. My gasket actually split apart this morning so now i just need to figure it out when the new one comes. Luckily i ordered the gasket and the inner seal since the inner one is the one that split. I think it will be fine as i have all the metal parts to put it back together.

  38. david e. wells sr
    Posted December 8, 2018 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    C 50 question for you C50 lovers out there

    is the tube and bottom of the upper pot of these coffeemasters removable or is this factory crimped and not removable for cleaning ? would like to know. i am aware that the sealing ring with it’s handles, gasket and bottom is removable. also, does anyone or a website exist that i can print a owner’s manual out or repair manual for my C50’s ? information would be greatly appreciated by myself.

  39. Joyce Handy
    Posted December 12, 2018 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    Per the comment that the coffee is “boiling” in the upper pot, I don’t think that is correct. Per the posted manual, the water is 200 degrees when it bubbles up into the upper chamber. What you are seeing is the bubbling of the air from the lower chamber as it, too, is forced into the upper chamber. All the air and water are forced upwards in order to create the strong vacuum that pulls the rest coffee back down into the lower pot.

    Can someone please scan and post a copy of the C250 manual, please?

    Thanks,

    Joyce

    • David E. Wells
      Posted December 16, 2018 at 12:48 am | Permalink

      ref temp comment——– ideal 205 degrees F brewing temp. upper coffeemaster temp 200 to 205 degrees F. these make better vacuum brewed coffee than even the silex vacuum pot due to the automation of the coffeemasters for heating, brewing and auto shifting back to low after the last of the water in the bottom has flashed off as steam giving the upper pot it’s last agitation. the drawback of using the silex pot is the lack of automation and you have to watch over it and act accordingly to each phase of brewing.
      i wish i had found one of these coffeemasters many years ago. i now see what i missed out on in coffee taste being a heavy coffee drinker from many years of working the graveyard shift as we call the night shift here in the us south.

  40. David E. Wells
    Posted December 16, 2018 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    just a question here. have any of you used your coffeemasters with a cory filter rod ? if so did you use the one with the spring lock or the regular cory rod w/o the spring ?

    i tried the cory rod w/o the spring from my silex vacuum pot. i tried the cory rod in the coffeemaster upper pot. it bounced around too much. when the water came up into the upper pot, it was gushing and splashing out too much. i unplugged it and swapped out the cory rod for the oem strainer/filter.i was testing with water only to see if it would work.
    just wondering how the spring lock cory rod would work in these coffeemakers ?

  41. Posted January 6, 2019 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Wow! I just found this site and I am thrilled. I have a C30 the my folks bought new in the late 40’s early 50’s along with a pop up toaster and a Mix Master. The coffee maker has never used and is in pristine condition. The gasket and the power cord rubber feel new. I have never used the brewer either as I could not find the manual and filters needed nor was I very interested in coffee for many years. I have dusted it off so that can make coffee syrup for coffee Gellato. Of course, I will make drinking coffee as well. After reading through these posts I now have to fashion a wire mesh filter. I may “modify” a reusable basket filter to make one.

    Thank you for the blog and posts!

    • David E. Wells
      Posted January 7, 2019 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

      i have a suggestion that might work for you. i’m assuming your coffeemaster filter is a 2 piece that separates where the oem filter cloth was sandwiched in. you can cut 2 pieces of a regular coffee filter to size with a slight amount sticking out of the filter rings edges when they are closed and latched down on the bottom.one idea. it’s got to seal good to keep the grounds from being pulled down with the coffee.i wouldn’t use the oem cloth filters from 60-70 yrs and they might fall apart and leave you with a cup of lint and disintegrated filter cloth.you will have to experiment with the paper filters to get what’s right in the upper pot.

      another idea i’m going to try is using the 4″ wire screen filters used with the french coffee press. i’d order the cheap ones from amazon and see how they work. the piece in the middle of the screen needs to be removed for the end of the filter rod to go thru. i done it with a pair of wire cutters and needle nose pliers to remove same carefully without damaging screen.i’m waiting on a new upper pot seal for my c-20 b before i try my idea out.the old c-20b seal is cracked and glorpy looking. makes a mess of goopy rubber that sticks to the lower pot rim.if your making a concentrated syrup, the wire filter idea may work better for that.

      i own a c-20b, two c-30 b’s and a c-50 coffee masters. i love them. you can brew iced tea in these also. i use the loose lipton tea, 1 coffee scoop per quart/liter i make. makes it strong like we like it here in the deep south. comes out great, pour into pitcher with sugar or desired sweetner.being hot, the sweetner will dissolve quickly. quench with ice to cool it off and enjoy. more /less tea, sugar to taste. these coffeemasters work great making your tea.just thought this might be great info for y’all.

      i also own a vintage sunbeam mixmaster,waffle maker and toaster. they all work great and will outlast any wally world chinese junk sold now.the old school appliances like these from the 1940’s and 50’s work much better for the job at hand.

    • Factoid (Jim Black)
      Posted January 7, 2019 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      The wire mesh filters are the biggest problem. I do not know of any person or company which makes replacements. The originals are now quite old, and in the great majority of cases, the mesh has come loose from the metal post in the middle. A certain amount of “fines” will get through and into your coffee as a result.

      Do you have an original C30, or a C30 A, B, or C? The filtering varies slightly among the models. You can read about the differences in other posts on this site.

      If anyone knows of a company which makes replacement filters, please post contact info. I, myself, do not.

      Best of luck!

      Captainfactoid/Jim

      • David E. Wells Sr.
        Posted January 9, 2019 at 9:03 am | Permalink

        only way to get a replacement wire mesh filter used or nos i noted is the occasionally listed filter assembly on ebay.( i have my doubts about the nos status of these items ) price seems to average ~ $ 27.000 + S/H on ebay. don’t know of a source for new ones. maybe try putting a french press wire mesh filter 4 “diameter over top of the oem unit.you will need to flatten that screen by putting under some heavy books or using a cut paper drip filter to cover the oem unit. these are my ideas, y’all just have to experiment to see what works.
        i have one c 30b filter where the mesh is pulled back in one small place. i put a dab of rtv sealant on that place and filter working out ok for now.the type of filter that used the cloth can be used with 2 pieces of filter paper cut to size to the shape of the cloth filters if you have any of them to use as a template. just some ideas kicking around in my brain.

  42. John Graham
    Posted August 30, 2019 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been using a C30B Coffeemaster for several years, and I can offer solutions to 2 problems that have apparently plagued many: (1) a solution to the problem of deteriorating mesh filters is to find (on Ebay) one of the old filter holders for the cloth filter (from a C30 or C30A model) and get a medium mesh French press filter (4″, I think). Use this in place of the cloth. These are readily obtainable and seal well. (2) A hardened gasket will work when warmed. Therefore, with the 2 pots loosely put together, one atop the other, and the water and grounds in place, set to low heat, and go away for 5 minutes or so. When you return it will take much less effort to connect the 2 pots properly; do this being careful to touch only the handles, of course, and not the metal, which will be hot. Store the pots separately or loosely joined, but failing this, you can separate the pots by putting some water into the top (i.e. the bottom) and running on Low for a few minutes as above. I hope this helps.

    • Captain Factoid
      Posted August 31, 2019 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Insightful comments, John. The issue with steel mesh filters breaking away from the center post has been a problem for me for decades.

      For those who have a top and bottom that are seemingly bonded forever, the trick of warming them up is hugely important. Not storing them attached together is THE way to avoid that contact adhesion. I have a museum piece (a C30B which has never been used, NIB). It came put together. I will now go and put some cloth between the top and bottom pots.

      Thanks!

  43. John Graham
    Posted August 31, 2019 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Correction: The mesh French press filter mentioned above has diameter about 3.25″.

  44. ljh2os
    Posted August 31, 2019 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Thanks John Graham; great post.

    I often double check with eBay; every once in awhile you can find the metal mesh inserts available. (In a previous post, you can see that is how I found one; it was still in the original box.) Gaskets are far easier to obtain, but they are pretty difficult to put on the pot. Your tips are great, and appreciated.

    My C50 is STILL the best pot on our house. We have 4 other machines, but when I want a really good cup, especially for dinner guests, the C50 is what I use. Plus, it looks lovely bubbling away on the counter. 🙂

  45. Oldfrog
    Posted December 10, 2019 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    What a great thread! Just discovered one a NIB C30A that my parents put in storage a very long time ago. It has the original cloth filters (unopened package). Among their things I also found one of the metal mesh filters with the perforated metal cap that goes over but have so far not found the rod and spring that should go with them.

    One significant difference from what I have read here is that my unit has a glass upper chamber and the funnel looking projection that extends into the lower pot is also glass. Haven’t tried it yet but hope to soon. Thanks to everyone who left the informative comments above.

    • Jim Black/Factoid
      Posted December 10, 2019 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Holy… um cow! I did not know that a Coffeemaster with a glass top existed. Sylex made all glass vacuum pots, but Sunbeam is news to me. I have a NIB C30A, and it is all metal.

      Does it work? That is, does the water boil up furiously, then, as the bottom cools to just under 212 degrees, does the water siphon rapidly back into the bottom? If so, you have a treasure. Like museum quality treasure.

      Mind you, so many of these were made that I doubt any museums are looking to collect one. But I do consider my New In Box pot as a thing of value. The silk electric cord is still wound in the factory manner – and I am old enough to recall from personal knowledge how factories wound those cords.

      Those filters are very rare indeed. The cloth ones can be substituted for, more or less. But the steel mesh is not made to my knowledge. It’s not the mesh that is hard to manufacture or obtain: it’s the seal of the mesh to the inner ring. If the mesh is not properly crimped to the metal ring in the center, a fair amount of “fines” will slip through and get in the cup. I say keep it. Or, if you will not be able to use it, send me a picture. If it fits one of my machines, I will use it. So would any number of others who follow this thread.

      • Jim Black/Factoid
        Posted December 10, 2019 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

        My bad. The C30A would have a mesh of stamped metal, not a wire mesh. Still a very rare find.

      • Neal
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        I found one of the glass top chambers at Goodwill a couple years ago. It just caught my eye and thought could it really be? I had not seen an actual one before, just vaguely recalled seeing a photo somewhere. I think is was made sometime around 1951 – the Korean War – because copper was scarce then. Think I paid $3 or $4 for it, nobody else probably had any idea what it was.

    • Austin
      Posted December 10, 2019 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      I believe the glass top you have is what is often referred to as the “beehive” top with a ribbed glass upper chamber. It appears to be a less common variant of the C30A. A very interesting find! Also, big thanks to Captain Factoid and the gang for keeping this thread alive and informative despite the author’s prolonged absence from the Snag blog 🙂

      • ljw
        Posted December 10, 2019 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

        Hi All –
        Perhaps you already saw this, but there is a nice C-50 on eBay for $39.99. Comes with all the parts including the filter.

        Just in case you are interested:
        https://www.ebay.com/itm/RETRO-SUNBEAM-COFFEEMASTER-VACUUM-BREWING-MODEL-C50-NICE-VINTAGE-COFFEE-POT/163981140944?hash=item262e09a3d0:g:Fh8AAOSwMDpd7nNs

      • David E. Wells Sr.
        Posted March 18, 2020 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        i seen one of the beehive glass upper pots on ebay a while back. it was on-bid and it sold for ~ 110.00.i wished i had the spare money at the time to bid on it. only one i have seen in my life. i’m still looking. i love these sunbeam coffeemaster vacuum pots. currently have about 12 of them and they all work from the c20a to the c50’s. they will last me the rest of my life no doubt. they all make a mean cuppa joe.my coffee i use is “chock full of nuts” with it’s one grind for all coffeemakers. i dip out a half cup ( 4 coffee scoops full ) fresh grounds for each pot. i love it. my old cusinart coffeemaker is long sold now and not missed. i set up the coffeemaster at bedtime and plug it into a timer to start the pot and have it ready when i wake up.just some thoughts here.

        • Jim Black/factoid
          Posted March 18, 2020 at 11:50 am | Permalink

          Interesting thoughts, David. I also have about 11 or 12 coffee pots, but only 5 of them are vacuum pots, and one of those is a competitor’s glass pot.

          I also have set my C30C pot up at night to make coffee for me in the morning. That is a great technique because it keeps the coffee hot without burning for an extended period. In me small apartment, I woke up to smell of coffee brewing, not an alarm clock. Very civilized.

          I also use 4 or 5 scoops (a generous half cup). Seems about right. I grind my own to a bit coarser grind than a drip pot would use. That also seems to be about the same as your all purpose grind.

          It’s reassuring when other experienced hands come to very similar conclusions. Makes me think that maybe I am doing things right.

  46. Dan
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Hello all,

    Just scored a Sunbeam C-30 in almost mint condition. It has everything including 20 unused cloth filters , but my excitement was short lived . When I wanted to try the Cory glass rod filter , I find that the Cory rod does not fit inside the c30 and the bulb portion of the glass is sticking out . Am I doing anything wrong here ? Has anyone ever tried Cory glass rod filters on sunbeam c30 ?

    • Jim Black/Factoid
      Posted February 28, 2020 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      To the best of my knowledge glass rods will not work in a Coffeemaster.

      You should have a long think metal rod with a hook on the bottom end and either one or two metal filters near the middle.

      The details of the rod/filter combo will vary depending on the exact model of C30 you have. I think the C30A used cloth filters that somehow got sandwiched between two metal brackets. The C30C, and maybe the B, have two filters: One is a wafer about 1/3 inch thick and is for coarse grounds. The other is a flat disk and filters out very fine grinds.

      I wrote this up a year or two ago. You might check my other posts. Let me know what model you have. I may have one extra rod/metal filter assembly.
      captainfactoid@gmail.com

      • Martin Edelson
        Posted February 28, 2020 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        Do you know of a source for the spring that connects to the rod hook?

        • Jim Black/Factoid
          Posted March 3, 2020 at 2:16 am | Permalink

          I do not know of anyone manufacturing the springs, although they should be easy to re-create. Just find a spring of the right length and diameter, then bend the top 1/4″ at a 90 degree angle.

          I have at extra rod assembly. It has a metal spring, but the wire mesh has come loose from the center of the mesh. I am going to try to fix this with FDA certified epoxy that is safe and stable at high temperatures and in boiling water. If that works, I’ll post my fix, and also offer the rod assembly I have.

        • Jim Black/Factoid
          Posted March 15, 2020 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

          Sorry to be late with this comment.

          I don’t know of anyone who sells such springs. They are a simple spring, with the one caveat that they must not rust. If anyone knows of some company which makes, or could make, such springs, do tell.

          Having said that, I have a couple of rod assemblies that I do not need. Contact me at captainfactoid@gmail.com and we can work something out.

      • Neal
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        I have used a Cory glass filter rod in my Coffeemasters for years and they work great. Virtually no sediment gets through – use a fine grind – and they do not get stained, just rinse off. Still available on eBay.

      • Neal
        Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

        I have used a Cory glass filter rod in my Coffeemasters for years and they work great. Virtually no sediment gets through – use a fine grind – and they do not get stained, just rinse off. Still available on eBay.

        • Martin
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

          Can you provide ordering information for the Cory glass filter rod?

          • Jim Black
            Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

            Cory glass rods can be found on eBay by searching for “Cory glass rod”. Looks like they cost about $10. – $20. including shipping.

  47. Dan
    Posted February 28, 2020 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for confirming Jim. I do have the C30 and it does have the filter assembly intact where the cloth filters are sandwiched between 2 metal brackets. I have an affection for metal filters and don’t care for cloth filters as they are hard to maintain. Thanks for the offer on the filter assembly , but I am good as my filter assembly is almost new looking. I am planning to try my luck with French press filters instead of cloth filters as Cona glass rod option is ruled out. Thanks again Jim !

  48. Dan
    Posted March 2, 2020 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Folks …ordered a gasket and secondary seal from Dayseal.net for c30 and was wondering how long is the delivery time . I ordered one on 2/20 and still did not receive it. Any info on past experiences or orders ?

    • Jim Black/Factoid
      Posted March 3, 2020 at 2:21 am | Permalink

      It took about 10 days, as I recall, when I ordered from them.

      On a previous comment, you said that you had the two metal brackets with cloth between them. That would make your Coffeemaster a C30A. I recall now that Sunbeam did make some of those which had a glass top and a glass rod.

      The extra rod assembly I have came from a C30C. I am pretty sure it would work in a C30A. I have what I think is an A model in a box. I’ll check out the rod assembly and let everyone know if the “C” rods will work in an “A” machine.

      • Dan
        Posted March 3, 2020 at 7:22 am | Permalink

        Thanks Jim . By the way the one I scored is c30 and not a c30a as the brew tube with a tiny hole is straight. All others c30a,b and c have conical brew tubes.

        Here is some good info on this .

        https://forums.egullet.org/uploads/monthly_01_2014/post-17399-0-02610800-1389728909.png

      • David E. Wells Sr.
        Posted March 18, 2020 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        the guy at dayseal, lee, seems to be slow to ship out. i ordered a replacement gasket for my silex glass vacuum pot on feb 26’20 ( now march 18 ’20 ) haven’t received that gasket yet. other than slow shipping he does make and sell a great gasket. i’ve bought 5 of them for my pots and they fit/work great. i’m assuming dayseal is the only source for these vintage gaskets. if anyone knows another source give all us vacuum pot lovers that source.

        • Neal
          Posted July 19, 2020 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

          His website seems to have changed to dayseal.net

  49. Marisa frasure
    Posted April 28, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    I had a sunbeam coffee master ( which mysteriously disappeared after my mom passed away a while back). I’m hoping to acquire yet another one soon-espthis re-affirms my opinion that new is not necessarily better. Is there any chance that the re-constituted sunbeam (jarden industries,l.l.c) will attempt to make a retro edition of this lovely item, as well as its teamaster?

  50. Richard A Botts
    Posted May 2, 2020 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    I have a C30 that I obtained that was never used and I brew tea in it. The aireation and prewetting of the tea leaves makes an excellent brew when with cheap tea. I had to replace the rubber gasket a couple of years ago and added a long plastic tye wrap to keep it in place. I usually clean the upper chamber in the bathroom, swirling water from the sink and dumping the leaves and water in the toilet. I use it once or twice every day. It does make great coffee and I have another C30 for that, but I like tea really a lot.

  51. LJW
    Posted June 22, 2020 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Hi All –
    I know in the past some have been looking for the filter for a C50. (The last one of these I posted, I purchased myself; I promise not this time!) Saw this tonight on eBay. My C50 does not need the cloths; just the filter itself is fine. But… thought someone here might like to get this one:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Sunbeam-C30-C50-Vacuum-Coffee-Replacement-Part-Filter-Rod-Assembly-5-New-Cloths/383573290666?hash=item594ebfeeaa:g:CFQAAOSwXQRe1uET

  52. Posted August 10, 2020 at 4:43 am | Permalink

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    after reading through some of the ρost I realiᴢed it’anna s flowers new to me.
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  53. Barbara
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    I CAN NOT get the two chambers apart! I actually broke the handle on the serving pot! Any tips on HOW to get them apart?

    • Jim Black/Factoid
      Posted August 12, 2020 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

      Oh no! A broken handle.

      Try heating the pot by running it without coffee, then working the top pot loose. You will very likely need to replace the rubber seal with a new silicone one. A company called “Dayseal” used to manufacture and sell such silicone seals. They will never suffer from “contact adhesion” like the original rubber ones.

      Some background:
      The problem you have is by far the most common cause of death for Coffeemaster pots. If you look on eBay, you will see several of the bottom pots for sale without a top. In my younger days I threw out two Coffeemasters for exactly that reason. The problem is that the material used for the seals (a type of rubber, I think) will stick to the metal if left for an extended time with pressure forcing contact.

      Heating the pot to the boiling point is the magic trick which would often save such pots.

      If you can’t fix your pot:
      I happen to have an extra silicone seal from a pot where the heating element failed. Never used. Let me know if you need it and we can work something out.

      I might possibly give up one of my four functional upper pots. I use one of my C30Cs exclusively for re-heating, so it does not really need an upper pot. Actually, my wife says I do not need four identical coffee pots, but that is another matter.

      Good Luck!

  54. Posted August 26, 2020 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

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    I know I am getting know-how all the time by reading thes pleasant content.

  55. Posted August 27, 2020 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Great article. I’m going through many of these issues as
    well..

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