There are a host of coffee maker types out there. Drip, pour-over, espresso, and stovetop are among some of the most well-known coffee maker types. But one of the lesser known, and far more fascinating varieties is the vacuum, or siphon coffee maker.

A History of the Vacuum Coffee Maker

The vacuum coffee maker, or siphon coffee maker or vac pot, has been around since the 1830s, when Leoff of Berlin invented this machine for making better coffee. For years, coffee had been brewed simply by boiling coffee grounds in water. That resulted in coffee losing popularity, as the thick beverage was nearly undrinkable because of the grounds.

Since no one wanted boiled coffee, a means of separating the coffee grounds from the water was necessary. The coffee maker went in various directions from here, including the French press, which was first invented in 1806.

A woman named Marie Fanny Amelne Massot of Lyons, France, however, created and patented the first commercial vacuum coffee maker in 1941.

Since that time, the siphon coffee maker has waned in popularity in some areas, but has begun to regain momentum as people increasingly appreciate the making of coffee as an art form.

How Does a Vacuum Coffee Maker Work?

A siphon coffee maker, or vacuum coffee maker, has two glass chambers. The bottom chamber is filled with water, while the top has coffee grounds placed in it. Heating the bottom chamber creates vapor pressure as steam forms from the water. The water is then pushed into the top chamber where it meets the coffee grounds.

Now that the hot water is in the coffee grounds, the pressure continues to work its magic, mixing the grounds with the hot water.

Then, the pressure shifts, and the coffee now passes through a filter on its return to the bottom compartment. The filter traps the coffee grounds, and produces a clear, smooth coffee in the bottom section of the siphon coffee maker.

How do you Make Siphon Coffee?

Use these basic steps to make your own Siphon coffee.

1. Gather Supplies and Equipment

To make a great siphon brew, you’ll need the following.

  • Coffee siphon — this may be a stove top siphon or one used over a burner
  • Coffee filter
  • Burner with fuel, or stove
  • Thermometer
  • Water
  • Coffee beans or grounds

2. Assemble Your Set Up

Put together the filter with the top carafe of your vacuum coffee maker. Then, pre-heat and rinse out the bottom carafe with hot water.

3. Measure and Grind

If you have a two cup siphon coffee maker, you’ll want to use about 21 to 26 grams of coffee. If you’re grinding the coffee beans yourself, do so now.

4. Add Water

Put two cups of boiling, or nearly boiling, water into the bottom carafe.

5. Heat Things Up

Now, either put your siphon onto the stove burner, or put the independent burner underneath your siphon coffee maker. Do not put the top carafe onto the bottom chamber yet. Turn up the heat.

6. Wait and Watch

Put your thermometer in the top chamber, and wait until the water in the bottom carafe begins to produce large bubbles.

7. Add the Top

Place the top carafe onto the bottom one now, and watch as the water begins traveling upward through the vacuum created by the heat. You want the water to maintain about 200 degrees Fahrenheit in the top chamber. If things get too hot, try turning down the burner a bit, or stirring the water on top to decrease the temperature.

8. Add in the Coffee

Now, put your coffee grounds into the top chamber to begin the actual brewing. Give it a good stir.

9. Wait a Little Longer

It should take your coffee about 45 to 60 seconds to mix with the hot water. You can give it a few stirs to help the process along, but you won’t need to much.

10. Remove the Heat

Remove the heat source, and give your top carafe a big stir to get the last of the bubbles out of the coffee.

11. One Last Waiting Period

Now, the siphon will do its thing. As the bottom carafe cools, the coffee will return to the bottom carafe, filtering out the ground through that filter between the two chambers.

12. Serve the Coffee

Remove the top chamber, and let the bottom chamber cool a little more before serving the coffee.

Siphon Coffee: Worth the Wait

Siphon coffee brewing takes a bit longer than standard drip coffee makers. And for those in a hurry, a vacuum coffee maker probably isn’t going to do it. However, if you’re interested in a great cup of coffee, and an interesting experience making it, a siphon coffee maker is a great way to go.

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