• The Coffee Poet

Coffee Break : Syphon

If you're looking for a bit of theatrics when it comes to brewing your coffee, there's no method out there that surpasses syphon brewing. Sometimes also referred to as “vacuum brewing”, syphon has been around since the 1800's. It's just recently started making a comeback, and those who have partaken in a cup produced by this brewing method rave about the quality. If you're curious about all things syphon, read on and let Sippy share all the details.

A Spot of History

There came a point in the 1800's where people came to the general consensus that boiling their coffee was a crime. It killed the taste, and people were pretty unanimously over it. As necessity is the mother of invention, new ways to brew coffee that preserved its flavor began to crop up. The earliest known patent for a syphon type coffee maker was issued to a gentleman from Berlin by the name of Loeff. This was in the year 1930. However, it wasn't until a few years later, that the brewing method would really take off.

For that, we have a French housewife by the name of Marie Fanny Amelne Massot to thank. She invented the first commercially successful syphon brewing device. Another popular version that came out, basically simultaneously, was the handy work of a Scottish engineer. Jobs well done.

How Does It All Work?

Okay, prepare to get a bit scientific here. Have your lab coat and safety goggles on? Good. So, a syphon brewer works with a little help from science, and gravity. Syphon brewers are comprised of two chambers. The bottom one is where the water goes. As the water is heated, water vapor is formed. The pressure from the vapor forces the water to rise into the upper chamber, which holds the coffee grounds. The two then mix in the upper chamber. The next step in the process is where this method gets its name.

Once the water mixes with the grounds, there is a drop in pressure. Thanks to gravity, a vacuum effect is produced. The water/grounds mixture then is pulled back down into the bottom chamber through a filter.

And voila! Coffee brewed with science!

What Does Syphon Coffee Taste Like?

Syphon coffee is considered by some to be the very best way to drink coffee. Generally speaking, syphon coffee is described as full-bodied, clean, and smooth. It is rich in flavor. Some devotees also proclaim that the aroma is more intense due to the global mechanisms. Expect coffee produced with this brewing method to be crisp and vibrant, with easily detectable flavor notes.

Who Is the Syphon Brewing Method For?

We're not going to mince words here, this brewing method is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of skill and practice. It requires a careful eye and paying strict attention. It also takes considerably longer than most other brewing methods. However, if you're looking to wow guests, syphon brewing can't be beaten for the sheer element of theatrics. It's a really “cool” looking way to brew coffee. Syphon brewing devices look like something out of a science lab, and they really are fascinating to watch.

The How To

Okay, so you're ready to tackle syphon brewing. Here's a general how-to to get you started.

Step 1: Grind your beans. The golden ratio still rings true here. You'll want 1 oz of grounds for 15 oz of water. A medium grind works best.

Step 2: There are many different types of filters used in syphon brewing. But, one of the most popular types is cloth. For a cloth filter, it needs a little bath before use. Let it hang out in some warm water for 5 minutes. For paper or mesh filters, a simple rinse through hot water will do.

Step 3: Take your filter and drop it into the top chamber. This chamber is also referred to as the

“hopper”. You should see a chain there. Use it to properly hook on the filter

Step 4: Fill the lower chamber up with water. This chamber is called the “bulb”. There is typically a designated fill line on the bulb to help you. Assemble the syphon, and make sure you put the lid on the hopper.

Step 5: It's almost time to heat your water, but first, you must attend to your heat source. If using a wick burner, make sure you've added fuel. You will also want to make sure that your wick is high enough. You want the flame to be able to actually make contact with the bottom chamber of the syphon.

Step 6: Slide your assembled syphon over the heat source. As your water heats, you'll be able to watch it move up the chain, and into the top chamber. A small amount of water very likely will stay at the bottom, but don't worry. Once all the water has reached the top, remove the lid and check the temperature of it. You want your water to be between 85 and 90 degrees Celsius.

Step 7: Now it's time to add those grounds. Put them in the top chamber and give them a quick, but gentle stir. You want to make sure everything is submerged. Once done, pop the top back on and let the coffee brew, undisturbed. If you're making 3 cups or less, wait for 45 seconds. If you're brewing more than that, you'll want to wait 1 minute and 10 seconds.

Step 8: Remove your coffee from its heat source and give it another few stirs.

Step 9: Wait as the coffee begins to get pulled back down into the lower chamber. This process should take about a minute to complete. You will know for sure it is done when you can see the grounds forming a small mound in the hopper.

Step 10: Remove the top portions of the syphon device, and use the bottom carafe to pour the coffee into your pre-warmed cups of choice. Enjoy!

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