No matter what kind of coffee fan you happen to be, some brewing methods are fancier than others. This guide will introduce you to the siphon method which brings out the flavor and is a feast for the senses while you brew a fresh cup.
What is siphon coffee?
The siphon coffee-making method isn’t hard to explain since it’s based on the physics of liquids reacting to expansion and contraction. The beauty of siphon is that it doesn’t rely on high heat to make the expansion of water happen. Two components make a siphon work and include two vessels that transfer them at different times. The lower vessel holds the water which is forced into the upper vessel.
Both of these vessels are connected by a small tube that allows the water to enter the upper vessel. A heat source underneath the lower vessel causes the water to heat up to the point of boiling. The expansion is what forces the water into the upper section. This is where the coffee grounds are stored and will brew your coffee. The heat source is turned off at this point and the temperature in the lower vessel begins to cool.
As it cools, this turns into a vacuum pulling the coffee into the lower chamber through capillary action. The rest is both gravity and vacuum that allows your coffee to get sucked through a filter that covers the upper draining section. After this, the coffee is then ready to drink.
What makes siphon coffee different?
Unlike pour-over methods, siphon coffee has an advantage for changing the flavor of coffee to the point where flavors are more noticeable. The pour-over method allows coffee to bloom and then drip down into your coffee cup almost as soon as you start pouring the water. Siphon allows coffee flavors to bloom for longer, which helps to unlock select flavors that you won’t notice with pour-over methods.
This is why certain pour-over methods will have different brewing steps, different water temperatures, and varying grind selections. It’s hard to ruin a cup of coffee by using the siphon method if you follow the directions correctly. Since the heating source below is causing the coffee to stay in the upper chamber, the brew time helps provide more complete bloom cycles without burning the coffee.
If you’re not being careful you can easily cause pour-over coffee to taste terrible if you’re in a rush. Siphon coffee is not as sharp-tasting and allows the subtle flavors to come through that you wouldn’t notice otherwise. In short, the flavor profile is the first thing you’ll notice when sipping a fresh cup of siphon brewed coffee.
Are all siphon coffee makers the same?
The relative design of siphon coffee dates before 1827, when an obscure German physicist by the name of Johann Christian Gottlieb explored methods of brewing coffee. His studies concluded that coffee machines of that time including the Moka Pot could be improved. He was so excited about his findings that he often taught these scientific principles to his military academy students.
While he did publish his findings in 1827, his invention concept of a vacuum coffee maker slipped through a series of hands. As a result, the vacuum coffee maker underwent many significant designs and modifications along the way. The main function of these coffee makers was all the same but the idea was likely popularized by Marie Fanny Amelne Massot aka Madame Vassieux.
She was a French socialite who was able to gain attention for her attractive siphon coffee maker from wealthy Aristocrats who adored being entertained. In every design after 1832, the siphon hasn’t changed much aside from the curious beauty behind it. One of the more intricate designs is known as the balance siphon. It might be harder to find the Naperian coffee maker designed by James R. Napier in 1840, which is still technically a vacuum design.
What is the best brewing method for siphon coffee?
All siphon coffee makers use a heat source that is located at the bottom of the lower glass vessel. Modern versions now employ infrared heating lamps, but enthusiastic fans will prefer using a lamp oil burner. An open flame needs constant attention and adjustment, so the water doesn’t get heated beyond 200F degrees. You’ll want to have some vital accessories to make brewing more precise.
Be sure to have a digital scale so you can measure your water and coffee grounds to the exact amount needed for each pot you brew. You also want to have a digital stopwatch so you will pay attention to brewing times. Another great addition is a digital thermometer that helps control temperatures if they get too hot or not within the optimal temperature you need. The most important item is a good coffee grinder to grind your beans fresh each time.
The ultimate siphon brewing method
A standard siphon vacuum coffee maker that has two vessels stacked onto each other only allows 4 to 5 cups of coffee. This recipe uses 35 grams of coffee and 560 grams of water. So this will give you enough coffee to be enjoyed twice over for two people. Here is how you can get excellent results with your siphon coffee maker.
1. Ready your accessories
Have all of your accessories handy so that everything is within reach to brew your coffee. The more organized you can be will only enhance the presentation of making siphon coffee. Using a decorative coffee stick also brings more pleasing aesthetics to your brewing process.
2. Grind your coffee
Use a quality coffee grinder that will allow you higher control of getting good results. You should start with 35 grams of coffee beans that are ground to a medium grind. This should resemble beach sand. The finer you grind your coffee, the lower the water temperature needs to be. This recipe uses 200F degree water.
3. Measure your water
Be sure to have filtered water available, that’s used for brewing your coffee. So any kind of filtering system will be essential for getting the best taste. Portable water filters work great but professional filtering systems also work if they’re hooked up to your kitchen sink. Don’t use bottled water or tap water, these aren’t good recommendations. Measure a total of 560 grams of water into your siphon chamber.
Use the digital scale placed underneath your siphon with the weight of the scale cleared from the total weight of your brewing siphon.
4. Begin warming the water
This is when you use your heating element to start warming the water. You need to take the upper chamber of your siphon and place the little chain into the lower chamber. This helps make the water bubble from the heat induction and will allow the water to create pressure once the upper chamber is firmly attached. Use your digital thermometer to check for the right temperature.
You can allow the heat to rise up to 205F degrees but it needs to cool to 200F degrees before you add your coffee grounds. Pay attention to the open flame on your coffee maker
5. Add your coffee grounds
Once you reach 200F degrees, you can now add your coffee grounds into the upper chamber. You should also measure this with your scale to ensure that you’ve put in a total of 35 grams. You likely pre-measured the beans before grinding but it does give your presentation more of a
scientific feel. Now start your stopwatch. Allow the first 10 seconds to absorb into the hot water. After this, you can start to mix the grounds.
Mix your coffee grounds for another 10 seconds using your decorative stir stick. Let it remain for another 30 seconds while it starts to bloom. Now you let the coffee sit in the upper chamber until it reaches the two-minute mark. After 1:30 you should stir your coffee to break up any gas that’s formed on top. This releases a wonderful smell of fresh-brewed coffee into the air. It’s starting to get exciting now!
6. Turn off your heater
When the 2 minutes are finished, you turn off the siphon flame of infrared light. This is when the pressure begins to change between chambers and begins sucking the coffee back down into the lower chamber. The filter inside the upper chamber keeps all the grounds and grit out of your finished coffee. In less than two minutes, the coffee should have drained into the lower chamber.
7. Remove the upper chamber
You can now remove the upper chamber and put this to the side for cleaning. It should be allowed to cool off before you wash it with clean water. The grounds also should be thrown out into the garbage or recycled in your garden.
8. Enjoy your coffee
Now you can grab a couple of coffee cups and pour right from your fresh-brewed siphon coffee. Give it a good swirl with your wrist to get all the contents to blend well before serving. Take a sip to see if you want to add more water, or leave enough room for adding milk and sugar if you prefer. Enjoy!