The Intimidating Syphon that Actually isn’t that Intimidating
Do you have a syphon sitting on a shelf in your apartment or cafe collecting dust? Or maybe you have a syphon that you bought on sale a few years ago and have yet to take it out out of the box? I’ve checked both of those boxes - taking out my syphon a year after I bought it, and only actually brewing with it months after taking it out of the box! This is unacceptable.
One of my delays in using my syphon was that I wanted to use the butane burner rather than the alcohol, and I made poor efforts and excuses in trying to get some butane. Another is that I don’t have a ton of experience using a syphon. When I worked at Revolver and we had the syphon as a brewing option, I would only end up brewing maybe a handful every week. The first time that I brewed coffee on a syphon, I was terrified that I was somehow going to knock it over and there be some sort of explosion. I still have that fear.
What is the appeal of a syphon? First off, I think they look bad ass. Lab-like and dangerous, but at the same time sophisticated and beautiful, they are very pleasant to look at in use or not. Observing a syphon mid-brew is like watching a magical performance. When a syphon comes out in a cafe, everyone stops what they’re doing and waits in anticipation for the show to begin. Do you believe in coffee magic?
Syphons are a style of vacuum brewing. From a brewing perspective, the advantages of the syphon are that the coffee is brewed at a consistent temperature throughout the whole process (aside from the one minute draw down time). The syphon offers a full immersion brew throughout the whole process in the upper chamber, and then drops down into the lower chamber through a cloth or paper filter. This produces a cup that has the body from a full immersion brew, yet a clean taste from passing through a fine filter. This cup is unique to the syphon and is definitely worth trying if you haven’t.
There are a lot of recipes out there, and for the most part they are very similar. Here is a basic recipe. Be not afraid!
- Boil water. The hotter the better in this instance.
- Pre-wet paper or cloth filter.
- Drop filter component into hopper (upper chamber) and hook mechanism on stem of glass.
- Ensure burner has fuel. Re-fill if necessary.
- Grind 25g of coffee. Grind a little coarser than for filter. Around 25 clicks on an Encore.
- Fill bulb (lower chamber) with 400g of boiling water.
- Insert hopper into bulb. Ensure there is a snug and even fit.
- Ignite burner and place directly under bulb. Gradually increase the heat.
- The water will start to bubble and slowly rise from the bulb to the hopper.
- Some water will remain in the bulb through the brewing process, this is totally normal.
- The water temperature in the hopper should be between 185F and 195F or small bubbles.
- To reduce temperature, give a few stirs with stir stick before reducing heat.
- Add coffee to hopper. Gently submerge the grounds with stir stick for 10 seconds.
- Let coffee brew undisturbed for 1 minute and 10 seconds.
- Turn off and remove burner from under syphon.
- Gently stir once around hopper, helping form a level coffee bed for an even extraction.
- Watch your coffee draw for about a minute. Get your cup(s) ready.
- Remove hopper with a cloth when the bubbling in the bulb slows down to gentle pulsing.
- Let your coffee cool down for a minute or two so you don’t burn your mouth. Patience.
- Pour your delicious coffee from the coolest coffee server around. Enjoy!
At 8oz, we have a few options for syphon brewers with the HARIO TCA and NEXT models. We also offer a few upgrades like the butane burner for greater control over your flame, as well as a paper filter option for a cleaner cup. For even greater control, and repeatable coffee brewing results, we offer the HARIO Beam Heater. The Beam Heater would be especially helpful for a syphon focused cafe to allow for multiple syphons brewing at once for a true syphon party.
My hope in writing this post is that you would dust off that syphon on the shelf, or pull it out of the box, and start making coffee with it! That goes for all of the other coffee gear that is sad from being neglected. So take the dried flower arrangement out of your Chemex, dig out that Clever, dust off that Melita style dripper, and start re-discovering your old favourites! Happy Brewing!