How To Use A Siphon Coffee Maker: A Beginners Guide

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The siphon coffee maker is without a doubt the brewer that’s going to make you the center of attention and they certainly create a talking point among customers. This device looks more like a high school chemistry experiment than it does a praised coffee maker.

But don’t be fooled by its looks, the siphon is regarded as one of the best methods for brewing coffee – that is, once you’ve mastered the ins and outs of how it works, making sure to pay special attention to various brewing variables. Although this coffee maker does require slightly a more hands-on approach and needs a bit more maintenance, the process is enjoyable and the final cup is incredible.

Siphons produce a very clean extraction, which in turn, helps to unlock the flavors hidden deep inside of single-origin coffees.

A bit of background on the siphon coffee brewer. This coffee brewing device goes by a handful of different names, some call it the Siphon (or Syphon, depending on where you live) or the Vacuum pot (vac pot) – whatever you like to call it the premise is the same.

History tells us that the siphon coffee was invented by Loeff of Berlin (1) in the 1830s over the next 10 years the original vacuum pot underwent a few design changes and was refined many times before finally becoming the siphon in the 1940s we all know and love today.

Back then, in the 1800s, it was believed that a finer ground coffee produced a taster cup. However, due to gravity water couldn’t easily pass through the fine grounds, so to solve this problem the vacuum coffee maker was born.

What makes the siphon different from other coffee makers is not a single micro-ground will pass through the filter resulting in an extremely flavorful and clean cup of coffee. A siphon’s brewing dynamic is a combination of immersion and vacuum. This is essentially what makes it different from everything else.

There is no other method of brewing coffee that looks like the siphon. The setup looks amazing and it will make you appear like a mad scientist – which is always a bonus!

Hario Coffee Siphon Instructions

Hario-Coffee-Siphon brewing Instructions

What You Need

  • Siphon Coffee Maker (In this guide I used a Hario 2 cup).
  • 20 grams of coffee. Medium to fine grind. Medium-dark beans are perfectly fine, however, lighter roasts work extremely well in a siphon and you’ll notice more of the sweetness and nuances found in the beans.
  • Coffee Scale.
  • Timer.
  • Coffee Grinder.
  • Wooden spoon.

End Result

  • Total brew time: 2 – 2½ minutes.
  • Yield: 2 cups (about a 12-oz. cup).
  • Cup Characteristics: Complex, flavorful, clean-bodied and a fair amount of aromatics.

How To Make Siphon Coffee Step-By-Step Guide

Brewing coffee in a siphon isn’t as hard as it may first seem and in all honestly you can master this brewer after your second or third try – it’s all about timing and temperature control.

I’m sure that after you’ve followed these step-by-step siphon coffee maker instructions you’ll be churning out coffee like a pro.

Step 1: Soak the Fabric Filter and Fix in Place

The very first thing you’ll need to do is soak the fabric filter in warm water for at least 5-minutes. Soaking will not only remove any lingering odor or taste but it will aid in forming a seal once placed into the siphon chamber.

glass tube filter fitment
pull the spring wire through-the glass tubing and hook

Once you’re happy that your filter is nice and damp place it into the glass chamber and gently pull the spring wire through the glass tubing and hook it on the bottom edge.

Step 2: Weigh and Grind Your Coffee

weigh out your coffee beans

Personally, I like to use 20 grams of coffee, but feel free to experiment, 25 grams is acceptable if you prefer a stronger cup.

Once you’ve weighed out your coffee set your grinder to a medium to fine grind setting. Ideally, you want to grind your coffee slightly finer than you would for regular drip coffee brewing.

Step 3: Add Your Water to the Bulb

pour water into the glass bulb

fill water up to the line on the glass rim

Next, add 300 grams of preheated boiling water into the bottom glass chamber (the “bulb”) – or just fill to the 2-cup line as indicated on the glass. I recommend that you preheat your water as this will speed up the time it takes to bring the water to the boil once it’s been added to the glass chamber.

Step 4: Build Your Siphon Coffee Maker and Heat

set the top section into the glass bulb

It’s now time to build your siphon coffee maker. Place the top hopper section (with the filter locked in place) into the glass bulb and gently twist the rubber seal until it feels secure – you don’t have to press too hard, just use enough force until it feels tight.

Now you can place your heat source underneath the glass bulb.

burner parts and pieces

The Hario siphon coffee maker comes with a liquid alcohol fuel burner – I recommend that you dump that and invest in a small gas burner. Simply put, the burner that comes with the Hario siphon simply cannot produce an even, constant heat source.

Not only that but finding decent “clean burning” liquid fuel can be a nightmare and you’ll also find that the bottom of the siphon glass bulb will turn charcoal black; plus burning down your kitchen is never a good idea!

Trust me, spend a few bucks and get a small gas burner such as the Yama Butane Micro Burner.

Step 5: Boil the Water Watch it Rise!

wait for the water to boil

As the water starts to boil you’ll notice that it will slowly begin to rise to the top hopper section. For some strange reason (to do with physics) a tiny amount of water will stay in the bottom chamber. Don’t worry about that it’s perfectly normal and if anything it will protect the glass from the direct heat underneath.

Once the water has moved into the top hopper, turn down the heat on your burner. We don’t water the water to be too hot, so if you’ve got a thermometer handy aim for a temperature between 185-195 degrees F. If you don’t have a thermometer wait roughly 30 seconds after the “boiling” bubbles start to disperse.

Step 6: Add Your ground Coffee

add your freshly ground coffee

Now it’s time to add your freshly ground coffee. Slowly pour in your coffee grounds into the top hopper section where the water should now be, making sure to fully submerge the coffee using a wooden spoon.

stirring the coffee with a wooden spoon

Step 7: Brew Your Coffee

brewing your coffee in the siphon

Allow the coffee to steep and brew, undisturbed, for roughly 15 seconds.

Step 8: Remove The Heat

remove from the heat

Turn off the heat and briskly stir your coffee using a wooden spoon.

Step 9: Watch the Magic Happen

watch the coffee drop down into the bottom chamber

As the temperature begins the drop you’ll start to notice the coffee slowly being drawn downward back into its original bottom glass bulb. This process should start roughly 1 to 2 minutes after you turn off the heat source. If it seems to be taking a longer try blowing on the glass to help with the cooling process.

“ goes a little something like this!”

You will know when it’s completely finished when the coffee at the bottom starts to bubble and you’re left with a thick layer of coffee grounds left in the top hopper section.

Step 10: Serve

once done serve and enjoy

Gently remove the top hopper section from the glass bulb, I recommend that you use a cloth as the siphon will still be too hot to touch.

Once the hopper section has been removed allow the coffee to cool slightly in order to guarantee the most complex cup before serving.

pour into your coffee mug


(1) Wikipedia.

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