What is Siphon Coffee: What You Need to Know About Siphon Coffee Makers

by Whole Latte Love Updated: March 10, 2020 4 min read
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If you’re really into the world of coffee and have jumped down the rabbit hole searching for the best machines and appliances to create your own coffee and espresso at home, then you’ve probably stumbled across a Siphon, or vacuum, coffee brewer. You might have wondered to yourself “What is this contraption and how can it possibly make coffee?”. Well, break out your lab coats because today we’re answering all of your burning questions about siphon coffee and more.

What is Siphon Coffee?

Siphon Coffee is brewed using a bulb-shaped brewing pot with a heating element applied underneath to evaporate the water and create a pressurized environment to brew coffee. It takes more of a scientific approach to brewing coffee and will make you feel like a mad scientist in your own kitchen, but once you have the technique down, you’ll be able to create a cup of coffee that is similar to French Press or a smooth cup of tea.

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If the thought of buying a siphon brewer scares you, don’t worry you’re not alone. It can be intimidating to figure out how you’re going to brew your morning cup of coffee with a brewer that looks like it belongs in your high school science class. But, the Siphon Brewer is hands down one of the most fascinating methods of brewing coffee whether it’s for yourself or a couple of friends and family. It’s comprised of only 5 parts, so it’s not as scary as it seems, let’s take a look at the components.

Components of a Siphon Brewer

There are five main parts to a siphon brewer, here they are from top to bottom:

  • Container for grounds
  • Filter
  • Gasket
  • Container for water (with a tube connecting the two containers)
  • Burner

That’s all there is to it! If you’re a coffee drinker and you’re more of a minimalist and enjoy the process of brewing coffee, a Siphon Brewer is a great way to add a unique piece to your kitchen without taking up tons of space. It also adds a new way to brew your coffee compared to your typical drip coffee machine. All you need to start brewing with a siphon are 5 parts, patience to perfect the brewing technique and freshly ground coffee.

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Speaking of brewing technique, see below for our detailed instructions on how to make siphon coffee.

How To Make Siphon Coffee

This brewing method works by applying heat to the water in the bottom of a bulb-shaped container. The heating element excites the water molecules and converts some of them into vapor.

The vapor molecules get excited, they begin to expand and attempt to rise but because the water is blocking them, the vapor pushes the water up through the filter and into the grounds container. This is the really cool part to watch because it seems as though the water is defying gravity.

By keeping the water heated below the boiling point, the vapor will continue to push the water upward into the top container and agitate the grounds until the vapor can make its way up the tube instead. You’ll notice the tube from the top container doesn’t reach all the way to the bottom of the lower container, once the water is below the length of the tube the vapor is finally able to rush up the tube.

Siphon tube and water globe

Boiling water flows up through the tube in the water globe

This action, plus the heat from the burner, forces the water in the upper container to stay where it is, while also heating the grounds container throughout the remainder of the brewing process. The grounds will look as though they’re boiling, but it’s simply the water vapor breaking free of its liquid captor.

Once the brewing is complete and the burner is removed, the gas starts to settle and shrink, and the gasket helps to create a partial vacuum to pull the brewed coffee down through the filter. The cooling water vapor begins to revert to its liquid form, quickening the flow back into the bottom container.

Once all of the liquid is back in its original container there’s still a vacuum to take care of, so the air is pulled through the grounds to balance back out the container to the normal atmospheric pressure in the room. This has an interesting drying effect on the grounds, which is the reason for the siphon’s nickname “vacuum pot”.

What is Siphon Coffee: What You Need to Know About Siphon Coffee Makers

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Siphon Coffee vs. French Press

As we mentioned earlier, brewing siphon coffee can result in a cup of coffee that is similar to French press coffee but they still have distinct differences. You might be wondering what’s the difference between both brewing methods and why you should choose one over the other. Here’s a quick breakdown of each so that you can choose the right brewer for your needs.

For starters, siphon brewers and french press brewers take a completely different approach to brewing your coffee. A Siphon Brewer is more hands-on, allowing you to witness an unorthodox process of brewing coffee. Siphon brewers also result in a smoother coffee with a rich aroma, flavor, and brightness. However, the results can vary depending on the coffee you are using.

French press coffee requires fewer components and the results of the coffee can be bolder and complex, again, depending on the coffee you’re using, and more complex. It’s a simpler take on traditional coffee brewing and there are a lot of options to choose from depending on how much coffee you want to make, a particular brand that you like and the style of the brewer. Check out our collection page of French press brewers here.

Best Siphon Coffee Makers

We have a handful of siphon brewers available on our website with some of the most notable brands including Hario, Yama, and Bodum. Here are a couple of customer favorites.

What is Siphon Coffee: What You Need to Know About Siphon Coffee Makers

Hario Technica 5-Cup Coffee Syphon

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Hario Sommelier Coffee Syphon

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Yama 3-Cup Tabletop Siphon

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Yama's beautiful 3-Cup Tabletop Siphon makes use of vapor pressure and vacuum force to aid in the extraction process and brew a clean, almost tea-like cup of coffee.