The vacuum pot/syphon brewing method was developed in the 19th century in Germany and France. It operates on the same principle as the stovetop pot: Water in a lower chamber is heated to pass through a central column into an upper chamber. In this case the water and ground coffee are combined in the upper chamber. When the solution has steeped long enough the heat is removed so the brew passes through a filter and back down the central column.
Syphon coffee has long been popular in Japan and other parts of East Asia, and increasingly so in North America and around the world in specialty coffee bars. This method can produce very clean coffee with vibrant acidity.
We recommend using a bunsen-type flame or Hario infra-red beam heater. If your syphon kit comes with a wick-type alcohol burner, this can do the job but is not ideal.
Weigh and grind your coffee at a medium size. Place the correct dose in a cup or container. Too fine and the coffee will take too long to descend the column; too coarse and the brew will require too much time or heat, also increasing bitterness or astringency.
The SCA standard is one part coffee to 16 parts water. You can vary it depending on your taste; in our demo brew we’ve used 24g of coffee to 360mL water – a slightly stronger 1:15.
Wet and wring out a cloth. Set it aside for later.
Boil some water in a kettle. Place the lower chamber on your scale and pour in the desired amount of hot water.
Fit the cloth or metal filter in the upper chamber. Carefully pull the chain to hook it to the bottom of the column. Make sure the filter is straight – adjust it with your bamboo stirring paddle.
Place the lower chamber onto your heat source. Sit the upper chamber on top, without sealing it.
When the water begins to boil, carefully press the upper chamber onto the lower so it makes a seal. Soon the water will rise to the upper chamber. Check the filter is properly centred. If not, adjust it again.
Lower the heat and add your coffee grinds to the water. Gently skim the surface with the stirrer so the grinds are wet and even across the top. Leave the brew undisturbed for 30 seconds.
Stir the brew steadily and smoothly so there is a whirlpool effect – aim for 10 rotations.
Now remove the entire syphon assembly from the heat source. Turn off your burner or heat lamp. Carefully wipe the lower bulb with your damp cloth as the brew descends into the lower chamber.
Once all the liquid has returned to the lower chamber (it should take around 30-45 seconds) carefully tilt and remove the upper chamber and place it onto the stand.
Pour the brew into cups and enjoy!
Note this is the “American method” of brewing syphon coffee; the Japanese way is to place the ground coffee in the upper chamber before assembling and waiting for the water to rise.
The spent grinds from your brew can go into compost, or straight onto any plants that like nitrogen/acidic soil. Scrape them out with your paddle, then carefully remove the filter from the upper chamber. Rinse and clean all parts but do not use soap on a cloth filter. The clean filter can be stored in water or kept damp in a zip-lock bag or container in the fridge.
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