There is the art of making great coffee, and the art of the vacuum pot that makes delicious coffee with a process that’s a wonder to behold. Vacuum pot coffee has been around for a while, first making its appearance in the mid 1800s, but eventually it lost in popularity to simpler methods. The arrival and convenience of drip coffee machines pushed it further into the background, but the vacuum coffee brewer has made a comeback.
Also called syphon or siphon, this is one of the best coffee brewing methods around. Sure it does require a careful approach that can’t match the push-button convenience of drip coffee, but the unique taste of vacuum pot coffee is reward enough for the work that goes into preparing it.
Vacuum Pot Coffee Basics – Best Coffee Brewing Method
First thing you should know about brewing a vacuum pot is that it’s going to look like a rad chemistry experiment from the Victorian era. That should fit, considering the year of its invention was mid-19th century. It’s probably not the choice for your daily cup, but vacuum pot brewing is your friend for the odd occasion, especially when you have friends over.
A vacuum brewer has four basic components:
- Bottom container
- Top container
Of course, there is more to brewing siphon filter coffee than those four components. To brew a good cup, you will also need the following:
- Coffee beans (obviously)
- A burner – preferably a butane burner
- Flat stirrer
The Science Behind Vacuum Pot Coffee Brewing
As the name very well implies, the method relies on vacuum (suction) to create the excellent cup of coffee you love so much. Water is added to the bottom container, and the siphon and top container are fixed. Once it begins boiling, the water has nowhere to go except follow the siphon into the top container. Coffee grounds are added to the water in the top container, while the water in the lower container continues to boil.
Once heat is removed from the lower container, the vacuum left by the vapor and water travelling to the top container works with gravity and sucks in the water-coffee mixture from the top container, pushing it through the filter. The filter removes the grinds, and the lower container gets the coffee you want.
Step by Step To Creating a Perfect Vacuum Pot
Step 1 – Add Water
Add water to the bottom container. Most containers come with markings to indicate the number of cups they’re going to make, so take your pick. It might be a good idea to pre-heat the water you add. You will have to boil the water, and a stove might just move things along faster than starting with a burner.
Step 2 – Turn On Heat
Place the burner and set it on high. There’s a chance you got a wick-burner when you bought your vacuum pot brewer. Push that thing away and use a butane burner.
Step 3 – Prepare Filter and Top Container
Firmly place the filter in your top container. Loosely place the funnel inside the lower container, at an angle. Wait for the water to boil.
Step 4 – Measure and Grind Coffee
Measure and grind your coffee, preferably to medium coarseness.
Step 5 – Attach Top Assembly
Once the water begins to boil, attach the top container securely to the assembly. Soon enough, water will start flowing upwards into the top container and it will begin to fill. Some water will remain in the bottom container, you do not need to be concerned about that.
Step 6 – Measure Temperature and Add Coffee
Once the top is full, use your handy thermometer to take a temperature reading. Ideally, you want the water at 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you hit the right temperature, add coffee and give it a good stir with a flat stirrer so as to saturate all grounds. Start the timer.
Step 7 – Lower the Heat
Depending on your personal preference, though usually between 40 seconds to 1 minute, give the coffee a gentle stir to make sure everything is completely saturated. Now turn down the heat.
Step 8 – Turn the Heat Off
At about a minute and thirty seconds, turn the heat off. Now that there is no heat, the vacuum pot starts sucking all the water back, pushing the mix through the filter. Your coffee will start flowing down into the lower container/globe, and will be done in about another one or two minutes.
Enjoy the fruits of the effort you put into the best brewing method!
Don’t be Afraid to Experiment
Like any other preparation, vacuum pot brewing can be changed to suit your cooking instinct and taste. Feel free to adjust the amount of coffee, filter and even the brewing temperature.
Vacuum Pot Coffee Makers
To get you started on the quest of your perfect vacuum pot, we’ve gathered some of the best rated syphon coffee makers on Amazon:
This KitchenAid setup simplifies the vacuum pot brewing considerably. It takes the form of an automatic siphon brewer that heats the water at the flip of a switch, thus negating the requirement of an open flame.
It automatically turns off once the water reaches the desired temperature, so you don’t have to spend time checking water temperature and managing the burner. Includes a stainless steel as well as a cloth filter, ad priced at $299.99.
- Simplifies vacuum pot brewing process
- Automatic controls for heating
- No open flame
- Less control over the brewing process
The Yama Glass Stovetop Coffee Siphon brewer is primary geared towards those starting the journey of the vacuum pot. It does not require a specific setup and can work on gas and electric rangetops, and has an included accessory wire diffuser for electric coil burners.
Made from heat resistant borosilicate glass, tt uses a filter cloth and makes 22 oz of coffee. Priced at $63.99.
- Simple, no-frills siphon coffee brewer
- Convenient due to stovetop use
- Oversimplified process does not quite fit the best coffee brewing method
If you thought the average siphon coffee maker looked intricate, take a look at Nispira and see the setup take a whole new level of complexity. Another “twist” is that the lower container is made from metal, so heating it is a lot quicker. The metal container comes with a tap so you can start pouring your brew right off the bat.
Interestingly, this one relies entirely on vacuum, seeing as the construction effectively blocks any flow into the “lower” container through gravity. This vacuum coffee brewer makes about 500 ml (17 oz) of coffee, uses a cloth filter, and is priced at $125.99.
- Good looking, unusual design
- Balance siphon construction adds more to the vacuum pot
- Requires more maintenance compare to conventional design
This take on the vacuum pot claims that the process is “entirely sealed off so no aroma can escape”. You can buy the burner and accessories separately to go along the vacuum coffee maker, or just simply buy the coffee maker and use a stovetop to do the heating.
The PEBO brews about 34 oz of coffee and uses a plastic filter, though you may want to use a cloth filter for better results. The coffee maker is priced at $58.15.
- Simple vacuum pot brewer
- Makes 8 cups of coffee in one go
- Works on burner as well as stovetop
- Use of plastic filter may distort the taste
Kendal glass tabletop siphon keeps a rather conservative look and a simple design. It includes an alcohol burner for heating up the water, though you might want to stick to preheating water before you add it. Makes 5 cups, uses a cloth filter, and priced at $80.99.
- Simple, no-frills design
- Good quality construction
- Relies on alcohol burner, which can take a fairly long time
Maintaining And Cleaning Your Vacuum Pot Brewer
Your vacuum pot uses some specialty equipment, and as such needs special care. You might want to buy cleaning supplies when you purchase your vacuum pot, as that will save you a lot of trouble looking for the right cleaning equipment. Depending on the model you are using, you might need to use a curved steel rod brush. You should avoid using steel wool on the glass components of your vacuum pot coffee maker.
Be extra careful when you scrub and clean the containers and various pieces as they can easily break. If you’re using cloth filters, rinse the filter thoroughly and place it in water. Store in your refrigerator.
When you start brewing your coffee, make sure the containers are completely dry. When you add water to the lower container, there is a good chance some of it will end up on the outer side as well. Clean and dry the outer surface well before you turn on the heat.
Your vacuum pot is a complex setup that rewards you with delicious coffee. Remember to be careful when brewing the coffee, and take good care of your vacuum pot brewer to increase its life and longevity.