The Best Siphon Coffee Maker Revealed (AKA Vacuum Coffee Brewer)

TOP PICK: HARIO Technica Coffee Siphon

HARIO Technica Coffee Siphon

Simple yet efficient design that makes it easy to create mind blowing filter coffee (and it’s affordable). It comes in 3-cup and 5-cup sizes and it's a favorite among coffee enthusiasts.

What Is A Vacuum Coffee Maker?

There is a short and a long answer to this question:

The short answer - a vacuum coffee maker is that thingy you’ve seen in a handful of hyper-hipster coffee shops and never known what it does.

The long answer - a vacuum coffee maker is a full immersion brew system that uses a constant heat source to create a vacuum in one chamber by forcing water up into another chamber, where the coffee grounds are steeped, and then allows the brew to drain back down into the bottom chamber.

Although this process may sound confusing, I promise it’s not. To get a good visual of how it all works watch this video for a demonstration.

Why Vacuum/Siphon?

Besides a nickname (siphon) that would fit well on the X-Men super mutant team, vacuum coffee makers have four unique features that set them apart from other brew systems:

Total Immersion

The first is that vacuum coffee makers brew with a dramatic-sounding process called total immersion.

Total immersion is rather simple, and all it means is that all the coffee grounds and all the water will be in contact throughout the whole brewing process.

This brew method should sound familiar to you, as both the French press and the AeroPress use this method for brewing. Essentially, total immersion is the same as steeping, and usually results in a clearer and lighter flavoured brew. Unfortunately, this method isn’t as good at extracting the flavour out of your grounds as a drip method - think of cleaning a dirty sponge with running water vs. soaking it for a while - which leads me to…

The Vacuum

The feature from which this mad scientist's experiment gets its name is also its most defining.

After your coffee grounds have soaked for a while, becoming more loose and relaxed than your hairy uncle at the community bathhouse , the vacuum created in the bottom chamber pulls all that caffeine-saturated liquid back down through the filter. By forcing the water back down through the grounds, this method is also effective in extracting any remaining solubles your coffee grounds still cling to.

Unlike a French press, a vacuum coffee maker gives you the best of both worlds: total immersion to let your grounds soak, and a hot water whirlpool to extract any last bits of coffee goodness, leaving you with a cup of coffee unmatched in flavor and aroma.

Consistent Heat

Another unique feature of a vacuum brewer is that it provides consistent heat throughout the entire brew process. Unlike other brew methods, which require you to pour preheated water over your grounds, a vacuum brewer is continuously heated. Since temperature is one of the most important parts of brew quality, having a consistent heat source allows for greater control over your brew.

Beautifully Designed

“Brewing in a coffee siphon is a complete sensory experience. It involves sight, sound, aroma, touch and taste.” - Blackout Coffee Co

I won’t pretend that I’m not shallow, because to a certain degree I am. I’ll admit that I sometimes choose coffee beans based on their label design and, yes, I like vacuum coffee makers because they look damn cool. Having a vacuum coffee maker sitting on your kitchen counter (or in your trophy case - I would) will immediately catch any guest's interest as they wonder what sort of awesome science experiments it’s used for.

an image of tips on choosing the best siphon coffee makers

Well Then, How Do I Choose a Siphon Pot Coffee Brewer?

Aside from the features listed above, there are a few other things to consider when in the market for a vacuum coffee maker.

I’ll go over some of these considerations:

Stovetop vs. Standalone

In terms of brew quality there isn’t much difference between a stovetop or a standalone vacuum brewer. The basic difference is that a stovetop (like the name implies) is designed so that it can sit on top of a gas or electric stove. A standalone vacuum brewer has its own fancy stand, and either a built-in or separate gas or alcohol burner that rests neatly below the bottom chamber.

Choosing between the two is often a matter of aesthetics, as standalone brewers tend to have a bit more flair than their (comparatively simple) stove-hugging counterparts; however, stovetop brewers tend to be less expensive than standalones.

Brew Amount

Like most other brew systems, many vacuum coffee makers brew in different size batches, and typically they range between 3-8 cups per brew. How caffeinated you prefer your mornings (or how big your family is) will determine which size is the best fit for you.

How Fancy Are You?

Given the price range of these brewers, I can safely assume that anyone considering purchasing one has a soft spot for style. Whatever your sense of style, there are vacuum brewers for the Elton John in all of us. But just a fair warning, the more Elton you are, the larger the price tag you should expect. If you’re after something more simple (and boring) maybe a regular coffee maker like one of these will do.

vintage coffee maker with a couple in the background

5 of the Best Siphon Coffee Makers of 2019

Now that you know what to look for and what you’re looking at, let’s take a look at the best options out there. In no particular order (i.e - they are all great options).

IMAGEPRODUCTFEATURES
hg-table__imageYama Glass Stovetop Coffee Siphon
  • Least expensive on the list
  • Smallest, and has a compact design
CHECK PRICE →
hg-table__imageHARIO Technica Coffee Siphon
  • Easy to use and easy to clean
  • It's still near the bottom in terms of price of brewers on this list
  • It is less likely to break than other vacuum brewers
CHECK PRICE →
hg-table__imageBodum Santos Stovetop Glass Vacuum
  • A nice aesthetic addition to your kitchen
  • It brews more consistently than many other vacuum brewers
CHECK PRICE →
hg-table__imageNISPIRA Belgian Balance Syphon
  • Gaudy design is sure to impress
  • A very consistent machine
  • Made of metal
CHECK PRICE →
hg-table__imageYama Glass Tabletop Ceramic Syphon
  • Looks modern and elegant
  • Comes with a butane burner
CHECK PRICE →

Yama Glass Stovetop Coffee Siphon

The Yama Glass Stovetop Siphon brewer is the least expensive on the list - but only by a whisker. It’s a stovetop brewer, which comes in two different sizes - a 22 ounce and a 40 ounce - meaning you can choose the right capacity for your needs.

Compared to other vacuum brewers, the Yama is a simple design and very easy to use. Most who purchase the Yama find its simplicity endearing, and its brew quality on par with other, more expensive vacuum brewers; however, a few have claimed this simplicity merely masks poor quality.

Although one should expect that a device made almost entirely out of glass to be fragile, the Yama has been criticized for its thin glass, which makes it relatively fragile for a vacuum brewer.

PROS

  • At $55, this brewer is the least expensive on the list.
  • It is also the smallest, and has a compact design.

CONS

  • The cloth filter can be a pain to store and keep clean.
  • Cheap manufacturing sometimes results in an imperfect seal, which can cause drain issues between the two chambers.
  • It has thinner glass than other vacuum brewers, which makes it more prone to cracking or breaking.

Hario Technica Coffee Siphon

If you are googling vacuum brewers right now, trying to learn more about the funky contraption behind the bar at the coffee shop, chances are The Hario Technica is that same funky contraption you saw (1). This brewer seems to pop up all over the place - in obscure coffee houses, trendy corner cafes, and many YouTube videos - and for good reason.

Thanks to Japanese propensity for simple and efficient design, the Hario Technica is a user favorite. The quality of this brewer vastly overshadows the Yama stovetop siphon, so you won’t run into any of the issues - fragility, inadequate seal, and poor draining - that seem to plague the Yama.

The Technica is a standalone brewer, which is sure to impress upon first sight. It comes in either a 3-cup or a 5-cup size, and includes its own (unattached) alcohol burner.If you are looking for a classic vacuum coffee maker, this should be at the top of your list.

PROS

  • A simple and efficient design makes the Technica easy to use and easy to clean.
  • It's still near the bottom in terms of price of brewers on this list.
  • The hardy glass is less likely to break than other vacuum brewers (but don’t go playing catch with it).

CONS

  • It also uses a cloth filter, which can be a pain to keep clean.
  • The included alcohol burner is slow to heat the water, so you may need to buy a separate, butane burner.

Bodum Santos Stovetop Coffee Vacuum

If you’ve ever walked into a Starbucks (don’t lie) you’re probably familiar with The Bodum Santos - Starbucks loves advertising Bodum French presses all over their windows. This Scandinavian company is known for its clean and minimal design without sacrificing utility. The Bodum stovetop is no exception to this discipline.

This vacuum brewer is only slightly larger than the Yama stovetop, yet the Bodum stovetop is made from slightly higher quality materials.

Amazingly, the Bodum stovetop brewer does not use a cover for its top chamber, which usually isn’t a problem, unless you put in too much water.

PROS

  • The minimal design makes for a nice aesthetic addition to your kitchen.
  • It brews more consistently than many other vacuum brewers.

CONS

  • The handle is a little flimsy, so you will need to pour carefully.
  • Over time, the Bodum may begin to lose its seal, causing drainage issues.

Nispira Belgian Balance Syphon

If you are looking for something to impress, or to match your new top hat, then the Nispira Belgian Belgium Balance vacuum brewer is the way to go. Nothing says class and refinement like a throwback to the early days of coffee brewing. Essentially, the NISPIRA is a remake of one of the first vacuum coffee makers. Although it reeks of impractical snobbish elegance, the machine functions just as well as most other modern vacuum coffee makers.

Unfortunately, this gadget is the most expensive on the list; however, I’m sure you already expected this since it literally has “luxury[AW8] ” in the name.

Unlike other vacuum coffee makers, which stack one chamber on top of another, the chambers for the balance siphon are positioned next to each other. Despite this unique design, the Balance Syphon works under the same basic principles, but you can see it in action here:

Unfortunately, the Balance Syphon is not nearly as easy to tweak as other vacuum brewers, and replacement parts can be very difficult to find - it's more for show, but it still makes darn great siphon brew!

PROS

  • The gaudy design is sure to impress, and the unique mechanism is always fun to watch.
  • A very consistent machine, that (once started) is relatively automatic and easy to use.
  • Most of the machine is made of metal, so it is not as fragile as other vacuum brewers.

CONS

  • The handle is a little flimsy, so you will need to pour carefully.
  • Over time, the Bodum may begin to lose its seal, causing drainage issues.

Yama Glass Ceramic Syphon

So, you liked the NISPIRA Balance Syphon, but your monocle wearing days are over. You enjoy showmanship, but you want something with more of the open-source nature of the other vacuum brewers. Well, dear reader, the Yama Tabletop Syphon could be the brewer for you.

This vacuum brewer comes with a stylish three-arm stand with a decorated ceramic base, but aside from that, its design is very similar to the Hario Technica.

Unfortunately, its performance is not quite up to par. The rubber seal on the Yama Tabletop Syphon is not always effective, which can prevent a vacuum from forming. However, this brewer does come with its own butane burner, which is a very effective and consistent heat source. Additionally, you have the option to use this vacuum brewer on a stove top.

PROS

  • A stylish design that looks both modern and elegant.
  • The brewer comes with a butane burner, but it is also able to be used over a stove.

CONS

  • Second most expensive on the list.
  • It sometimes suffers from seal issues, which makes it difficult for consistent brewing.

THE VERDICT: What's The Best Siphon Coffee Maker?

Although the competition was tough, I do have a clear winner: The Hario Technica.

Hario Technica Coffee Siphon

This vacuum coffee maker is the brewer of choice for so many coffee shops because, compared to its counterparts, it provides the highest and most consistent quality.

It embodies the unique design iconic to vacuum brewers without sacrificing any functionality. Additionally, that Hario Technica is well-built from superior materials, which means it does not suffer from the same sealing issues of other vacuum brewers.

Have you used any of the vacuum brewers from this list? I’m assuming you also like pour over coffee too, so check our our favourite pour over brewers here.

FAQ’s

What does siphon coffee taste like?

Siphon coffee tastes clean and full of coffee flavours, partly due to the siphon coffee maker’s glass structure. The coffee gets its rich flavor from the immersion and pressure aspects of the brewing process. The end result is cleaner than say French Press coffee due to the finer, more traditional filter. Keep in mind that the coffee grind size has a significant impact on the flavor of the coffee as well. A medium coarse coffee is best recommended for the siphon coffee maker. 

How do you make siphon coffee?

First, soak the filter for a minimum of five minutes in warm water and then drop it to the bottom of the coffee maker’s top filter component. Next, fill the globe pressure pot with water. Insert the top filter piece with the filter into the bottom pressure pot and then place the entire coffee maker over the heat source.

Let the water heat and measure out the appropriate coffee amount in the meantime. As the water begins to boil, vapor pressure will push the water into the top portion of the coffee maker. Now that the water has moved into the top portion, add the coffee to the water and make sure it’s submerged.

The coffee needs to sit for about a minute until you take the coffee maker off of the heat source and stir rapidly about 12 rotations to create a brisk vortex. Gravity will pull the coffee back down through the funnel into the globe pressure pot. Once it has finished filtering, remove the top portion of the coffee maker and serve. Enjoy! 

What is a Cory Rod? 

The New Cory Rod is a Cory Rod optimized in size and shape for brewing coffee rather than tea. The New Cory Rod is more slender and longer in design. These filters replace the standard manufacturer’s filter in your siphon/vacuum coffee maker to improve the quality of the brew and make for an easier clean-up. Please note that these glass filters are no longer made, so finding one may be a bit of a challenge.


Reference

  1. Hario Syphon Technica 5 cup, retrieved from https://harioaustralia.com.au/hario-syphon-technica-5-cup
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Alex
 

Alex is the Founder and Editor of Homegrounds.co. He is passionate about brewing amazing coffee at home, and teaching others to do the same.

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