Have you spotted a siphon coffee maker in a third-wave coffee shop and wondered whether you could try that at home?
The great news is, you can. While you don’t get quite as much choice as when you’re looking for an espresso machine or a single-serve coffee maker, you can still find plenty of options at a range of price-points.
This is what we’ll be highlighting today in our hunt for the best siphon coffee maker. As well as exploring the best models on the market, we’ll also be showing you how these intriguing pieces of kit work and whether it’s worth bothering with a siphon coffee maker in the first place.
What is a siphon coffee maker, then?
Well, these fascinating contraptions are full-immersion brewing systems. Thanks to a constant source of heat applied, a vacuum is created in one chamber of the rig. This vacuum forces water up into the secondary chamber. It’s here that the grounds are steeped. Once the coffee is brewed, the result drains neatly back down into the bottom chamber.
The result? Coffee with all those precious oils locked in meaning you’ll be getting the very best out of both the flavor and aroma of your favorite coffee.
Now, if you’re impatient for the main event, here’s a glimpse at the siphon coffee makers we’ll be reviewing today along with their core features.
I. Our Top Picks For Siphon/Vacuum Coffee Makers
|Products & Features||Image & Price|
Hario Technica Glass Siphon Coffee Maker Our #1 Pick
Yama Stovetop Siphon Coffee Maker
Bodum PEBO Siphon Coffee Maker
KitchenAid Siphon Coffee Maker
Yama Glass Tabletop Coffee Siphon
Kendal Glass Tabletop Siphon
Belgium Luxury Royal Family Balance Siphon
II. How a Siphon Coffee Maker Works
Now you have an idea of the basic premise of siphon coffee makers, how do they work?
While we gave you a quick overview of the process above, here’s how to make siphon coffee in more detail.
- Soak the filter for at least 5 minutes in warm water
- Place this into the bottom of the filter compartment
- Fill up the pressure chamber with water
- Put the filter piece into the bottom pressure chamber
- Put the whole unit over a source of heat
- As the water heats up, measure out the amount of coffee you need
- When the water begins to boil, pressure will push it into the upper chamber
- At this stage, with the water in the top chamber, you add your coffee to the water. Ensure all the coffee grounds are completely submerged
- Allow this to sit for a minute or so
- Remove the siphon from the heat source
- Stir vigorously a dozen times and allow gravity to suck the coffee back down through the funnel
- Let the coffee finish filtering then remove the upper portion of the siphon and serve
III. Is Siphon Coffee Better?
So far, so good.
If the above process, even when simplified, sounds like too much hassle, you shouldn’t buy one of these machines. If you’re looking for a coffee maker that delivers a cup of joe with push-button ease, this is conspicuously not the best brewing method for you. We would recommend either a single-serve machine or a super-automatic espresso machine depending on how you prefer your coffee.
How about if you’re experimental by nature and you’re looking to expand your coffee-making repertoire?
Well, the honest answer is that siphon makers do deliver extremely tasty coffee and here’s why…
Firstly, the glass structure provides the optimum brewing environment.
The full-immersion brewing involved ensures that the coffee grounds and water are completely assimilated. All aspects of flavor and aroma are fully extracted.
With a much finer filter than you would find on a French press, you’ll end up with a remarkably clean taste to your coffee and a result so far from instant coffee as to be like a completely different drink.
With that groundwork laid, it’s time for our best siphon coffee maker reviews.
IV. The 7 Best Siphon Coffee Makers
1. Our #1 Pick:Hario Technica Glass Siphon Coffee Maker
All siphon coffee makers have a certain elegance, but Hario takes this to new levels with the Technica. While it might be a nice way to start conversation at the dinner table, you’re not buying a coffee maker for looks alone. What really counts is performance, so how does the Technica shape up?
Well, if you’re looking for ease of use and speed of brewing, you’re clean out of luck. If you don’t mind tinkering with the cumbersome alcohol burner, and you have the time on your hands to devote to mastering this rewarding brewing method, you can’t go wrong with this siphon.
Choose from a 2, 3, or 5-cup model to suit.
2. Yama Stovetop Siphon Coffee Maker
This stovetop siphon coffee maker from Yama has a strong selling point: all parts are replaceable. When you have an intricate appliance like this, especially one that comes in for heavy use, it gives you a great deal of confidence knowing you can swap out anything that wears down.
This is an extremely versatile siphon that allows you to use any type of stovetop.
Capacity is a generous 5 cups so you’ve got enough for the whole family in a single pot. If this is not large enough, there’s also an 8-cup model available.
Another differentiating factor with this stovetop siphon is the speed of brewing. Where some siphons take up to 10 minutes, you’ll have coffee in your cup in 2 minutes flat with the Yama.
3. Bodum PEBO Siphon Coffee Maker
Looking like something you would find in a school science lab, the Bodum PEBI is a classic siphon coffee maker from an industry specialist. Bodum’s products always set a high bar while remaining reasonably priced. This siphon is no exception.
Now, if you’re looking for a simple way to make coffee, using a siphon is probably not for you. Even by the standards of this brewing method, though, you’ll find the PEBO tricky to get to grips with. Once you’ve accustomed yourself to this machine, you’ll be rewarded with a deep and intense coffee thanks to all that flavor and aroma being captured inside. This is enhanced thanks to the completely vacuum-sealed set-up.
As with all siphon coffee makers, you could find yourself struggling to achieve a consistent brew. Relax, though. That’s all part of the fun with siphon coffee making, and the end result will always be a deep and full-bodied drink brimming with flavor.
4. KitchenAid Siphon Coffee Maker
KitchenAid consistently produce highly efficient kitchenware and appliances at almost budget prices. This siphon maker continues that winning tradition.
Unlike many of these machines, the KitchenAid siphon is pretty easy to use. With the stand, you have a perfect stable base to operate from. Tweaking the temperature is a cinch.
Nice touches like the magnetic seal show an attention to detail you wouldn’t necessarily expect at this price point.
With a reusable stainless steel filter thrown in, you won’t be faced with the running costs, hassle, or environmental impact of buying disposable filters.
As with every siphon coffee maker worth its salt, if you take the time to become proficient with this hefty unit, you’ll have the capacity to turn out barista-grade coffee without leaving home. What’s not to love?
5. Yama Glass Tabletop Coffee Siphon
Next up in our siphon coffee maker reviews is a classic glass unit from the highly reputable Yama. While this is by no means a cheap coffee siphon, you certainly won’t be bemoaning value for money if you treat yourself to this gem.
Capacity is enough for a round of 5 coffees so the whole family is catered for.
Design is striking with the hand-blown borosilicate glass giving you the perfect material to lock in the taste and flavor of your coffee. This is complemented by ceramic for a solid overall build that should return years of faithful service.
With a scoop and some filters thrown in – these are reusable – you have everything you need to start whipping up gourmet coffee right out the box.
6. Kendal Glass Tabletop Siphon
Both bowls of this tabletop siphon coffee maker are fashioned from borosilicate glass, the optimum material for these units. Build is robust despite the seeming fragility of glass. Now, we’re not saying you can knock this siphon around, but it won’t shatter at the slightest impact either.
Capacity is just about ideal with enough space for 5 lip-smacking coffees. In spite of this family-friendly sizing, the footprint is small and space-saving.
What sets this siphon apart from much of the opposition is how extremely simple it is to clean. If you’ve been tempted by siphon coffee before but been intimidated by the process and the thought of cleaning up, this model is a neat solution.
Despite such hard-hitting performance, you’ll find this siphon comes keenly priced and should fall easily within most budgets.
7. Belgium Luxury Royal Family Balance Siphon
Last but absolutely not lest in our quest for the best siphon coffee maker comes this work of art from Belgium Luxury.
The wooden base contrasts wonderfully with stainless steel finished in gold. All glass is fully heat-resistant.
Unlike many of these siphon machines, you’ll find the instructions are pretty clear and straightforward. Don’t be put off by the unusual looks of these siphons. Once you get down to it and become familiar with the equipment, using them is really not so tough.
This siphon is by no means cheap. If you’re shopping based purely on the bottom line, this is not for you. For anyone with demanding tastes and a fluid budget, you can’t find many finer siphon coffee makers on the market.
Everything you need is thrown in down to the filter cloth, cup, and measuring spoon you need to start making siphon coffee with precision.
V. Things You Should Consider
When you’re shopping for a siphon coffee maker, you might be initially frightened by the strange appearance of these things.
By now, though, you should have a solid idea of the models up for grabs and how these things work.
Focus on the following areas when you’re siphon shopping and you’ll get the right model for your needs without too much time or trouble:
- Type of Siphon Coffee Maker
- Ease of Use
Type of Siphon Coffee Maker
The first thing you need to clear up is the style of siphon that would most smoothly fit with your home set-up.
Here are your two main choices:
- Stovetop Siphon
- Standalone Siphon
If you’re shopping for siphon coffee makers based primarily on budget, you should first explore the stovetop siphons on the market.
Are they any good, though?
Absolutely. As the name makes abundantly clear, these siphons are designed to sit on your existing stovetop.
Most stovetop models are designed to cope with both gas and electric stovetops. You are provided with a grid if necessary.
These siphons don’t tend to have the same aesthetic impact as standalone siphons, but you won’t need to dig as deep for the privilege.
For anyone exploring coffee siphons based on appearance, there’s no substitute for a standalone siphon.
These models are typically more expensive, and they’re also more hassle to use. The bundled alcohol or gas burner and stand add to the complexity. Also, with more moving parts, there’s obviously much more to go wrong.
If you don’t object to the extra complication of using a supplementary burner, consider a standalone coffee siphon.
Next, then, we get to arguably the most important part of your buying decision…
Size matters when it comes to siphon coffee makers.
The vast majority of siphons fall in the range of 3 to 8 cups. The average is a 5-cup model giving you enough for all the family.
If you’re in any doubt when it comes to size, err on the side of caution and go for larger than you think. The last thing you want is to sell yourself short and need to keep on making two consecutive batches.
Ease of Use
Another crucial element to consider on the buying trail is how easy the siphon maker is to use.
Now, you should already be clear that using a siphon coffee maker involves a little patience. Most of these machines are fairly elaborate.
What counts, though, is finding something that’s in line with your level of practical skills. Throughout our reviews, we’ve commented on ease of use. You should find it straightforward to find a suitable siphon.
Prices vary substantially with siphon coffee makers.
Think beyond the bottom line to consider, too, your intended usage. If this appliance is something you’ll only whip out the cupboard once a month, you don’t really need to spend out on an upscale model. If, on the other hand, you’re considering using your siphon on a regular basis, you’re better off targeting better models with longer lifespan and superior performance.
OK, you should now be pretty clear on how to use a siphon coffee maker and whether or not this brewing method looks like something you’d be interested in.
Before we round out today, we’ve assembled a list of the most frequently asked questions about siphon coffee makers along with the answers. Here’s everything you need in one place…
1) What is a siphon coffee maker?
A siphon coffee maker, also known as a vacuum coffee maker, allows you to make coffee using a full-immersion method. Most siphons contain the same core components. You can expect a pair of containers along with a siphon tube and a filter, typically reusable. You’ll also need a source of heat whether from a burner provided or the stovetop.
2) What’s the reason for using a siphon coffee maker?
While these contraptions look outrageously good, it’s not aesthetics that causes them to fly off the shelves the world over. As a full-immersion brewing process, the coffee beans remain in contact with the water throughout. Throw in a speedy extraction time and you get a deep and full-bodied coffee that won’t lose any of its flavor or aroma.
3) How do siphon coffee makers work?
Although you often see siphon coffee makers referred to as vacuum coffee makers, the whole process gets started with vapor not vacuum. With ground coffee beans in the upper chamber and water in the lower chamber, the heat source is then placed underneath. The water warms and the vapor starts to expand. It travels up the siphon tube and through the filter into the upper chamber. This vapor carries water with it. Most of the liquid ends up in the top chamber except for a small amount that stays down below to produce more vapor. After the coffee and water have mixed for up to 3 minutes, the heat is removed. After a few quick stirs, the water will pour through the tube and into the bottom chamber, filtered and ready to drink.
4) What grind consistency do I need for vacuum brewing?
We would suggest starting off with a medium grind just like you’d use for drip coffee. Whenever you are trying out a new brewing method, this is always a sound benchmark to work from. You should always grind your beans directly before brewing. Coffee beans start to spoil within 30 minutes of grinding. All those precious flavors and aromas start to weaken. If you’re going to the trouble of using an involved brewing method like vacuum brewing, make certain you grind right before brewing.
5) How can I clean my siphon coffee maker?
Even if you spot a siphon coffee maker that’s labelled dishwasher-safe, our advice is to handwash these things. Any appliance this fragile is typically best handled with a little care. You should be able to scrub the chambers using some dish soap without exerting too much effort. A nylon bottle brush works well to reach awkward areas. After thoroughly rinsing the siphon, allow all components to air dry and you’re good to go. As with all coffee machines, the more you keep on top of cleaning, the less you’ll need to do.
6) Do I need to preheat the water when using a siphon coffee maker?
This depends on the model. If you choose an electric siphon coffee maker, it will likely be up to temperature before you’ve even wrapped up grinding your beans. If you’re using a butane burner or an alcohol burner, expect it to take a little longer for the water to get up to temperature. If you feel the need to expedite the process, feel free to preheat the water. We would advise against it, though. Take your time and embrace the process rather than trying to rush.
7) Is it necessary to filter water for coffee?
That depends on where you live and the quality of the water there. As a general rule, the better the water, the better the quality of the coffee in your cup. The vast bulk of your end drink is, in fact, water. Don’t sell yourself short and use the best possible water when you’re preparing siphon coffee.
8) What is full-immersion brewing?
All this term means is the coffee beans and the water remain in contact from start to finish. The result is a coffee with all the taste and aroma safely locked in.
9) I was told you could only use siphon coffee makers with wick heaters. Is this true?
No. Most traditional siphons operated like this. Today, though, many models allow you to take advantage of a butane burner. You can also find plenty of stovetop models. Other siphons come with electric hotplates bundled. All that counts here is finding what works best for you.
10) What happens if I find I still have some grit in my cup when I drink my siphon coffee?
The chances are that you need to grind your coffee coarser. Try this and see whether you still have sediment in your cup.
11) Why have siphon coffee makers not become more popular if they make such good coffee?
The ubiquity of the drip coffee machine means it’s hard for something much more labor-intensive like a siphon to compete.
12) What are the best filters to use for siphon coffee makers?
While you can find disposable and reusable filters for these machines in a range of styles, we would recommend using either cloth or paper filters for best results.
We hope by now you have a decent understanding of how siphon coffee makers work along with an overview of their key benefits.
If you take a step back and forget the idea that these machines need a PhD to operate – they don’t! – you’ll rapidly familiarize yourself with a reasonably simple method of making coffee, but a method with an exceptionally high return.
Bottom line? If you can be bothered to tackle the initial learning curve, you’ll find you’re soon whipping up siphon coffee just like that hipster barista in your local independent coffee store.
Before you go, don’t forget to bookmark LaMano. We’ve got plenty more information-packed guides coming your way dissecting all aspects of coffee and coffee culture. Feel free to reach out any time if you have any comments, suggestions, or requests. We’re highly responsive to messages so don’t be shy, get in touch!