Five years ago if you mentioned a bombilla (pronounced bom-BEE-yah or bom-BEE-sha), I would’ve said “bomb what ya!?” Ah, yes, memories… but new and seasoned mate drinkers alike have come to respect this sacred straw used to draw the infused yerba mate from our trusted mate gourds. It’s an indispensable tool, not easily parted from the Matero (a passionate yerba mate drinker).
Round, curved, straight, short, long, they come in a variety of styles. Today, we’ll discuss the differences between two notable types: spoon (our Katana Bombilla ™ ) and coiled (our Double Action Bombilla ™).
This is the most traditional Argentine bombilla, made with surgical-grade stainless steel. It’s simple and works very well with broader cuts of mate, such as Nobleza Gaucha and Cruz de Malta—classical Argentine varieties. The spout is of typical size, allowing a good amount of liquid to pass. With just over 6.5˝ in length, it’s ideal for mate gourds that don’t exceed 4.5˝ in height, such as a Vidrio ™.
One disadvantage of this bombilla is that it’s not well suited for Gaucho yerba mate, such as Galaxy and Canarias, along with other powdery brands found in Paraguay. The dual filtration mechanism—three slits enveloped with a tight coil—doesn’t easily allow the more viscous yerbas to easily pass. As you’ll see in the video below, it’s surely possible, but not convenient (some seasoned mate drinkers have no issue using it with Gaucho Mate; many beginners find it difficult).
While taking a day trip to Uruguay from Argentina, an hour boat ride across the largest river in the world, the Rio Plata, I stumbled across a display of antique spoon bombillas in a silver store. Since that warm and sunny day on the coast, I’ve been in love with spoon bombillas.
The spouts are super-thin and the softer, more lustrous metal, alpaca (or German steel) lends a air or regality and luxury. The spoon-shaped filter, dotted with approximately sixty pin-sized holes on each side, makes it the perfect bombilla for molding powdery yerba mates. With 7.5˝ in length, it’s ideal for gourds that range from 4.5 to 5˝ in height.
One drawback with this mate bombilla is that it’s made with a soft alloy, German steel. What you gain in glimmer and shine, you lose in durability. The bombilla is more maleable than the stronger stainless steel and when scraping yerba mate from your gourd, take care not to apply too much pressure. After a year of heavy scraping, your filter may wear down to the nickel inner layers. We recommend either scraping softly or not using it at all for that purpose, opting to use a traditional spoon to clear your spent yerba.
Both bombillas can be used interchangeably, but the spoon bombilla is clearly designed for Gaucho Mate and the coiled for classical Argentine cuts, with broader leaves and significantly less powder. We hope this comparison and contrast has helped you to better understand your options and the different capabilities and limits between the two styles.
Below, we’ve provided a video to demonstrate these aforementioned differences.