Brewing with siphon... why?

(j l) #1

What does a siphon provide other than a good “show”? :smiley:

Relative to other methods? It seems to have a uniform drawdown which is good. The agitation in the beginning is a little concerning for repeatability. Thermal control, not sure what that means in the world of Siphon…

Particularly good for certain type of bean? Roast? Cafe use seems to be inefficient from a workforce optimization view, strictly speaking.

(Ole Leng) #2

Hey there,
As you already wrote, there are some issues when it comes to the Siphon, as you cannot control all of the variables.

  1. The temperature: Yep, no matter if you’re using a flame or the Hario Bottom you basically boil the water.
  2. The Amount of water, which is in contact with the coffee: As there always some water remaining at the bottom.
  3. Repeatability: Should be fine, if you can control the heat. Not sure if the usual Pour Overs are better at this. I mean humans are not good at repetition anyways. So the flame or Hario Lamp is probably as (in/)accurate as most humans are at pouring. Remember, you add the coffee as the most of the water went up and boiling is consistent right?!
    If that’s a problem or not, your decision.
    Compared to other brewing methods, I find the Siphon gives you a very rich cup, that favours naturals very well, whether dark or light roasted coffees. When it comes to washed Kenians, it’s probably not the way to go (My Taste). You will recognize that although you might use a slim paper filter, the cup isn’t as clean as the usual pour over methods are - taste wise and you’ll see it. Still, you have this paper filter, which means you don’t end up with all of the coffee oils and fats in the cup. Compared to a Karlsbader Kanne or a portafilter. Imagine a nice dark roasted Cuban, that relies on it’s oils and tastes a little bit boring over Chemex or V60. As I said, there is no right or wrong, it has to suit the coffee.
    Last but not least, let’s talk about the why: Back then when there were no automatic water pumps, the siphon was an option to automize the get water into the coffee grounds and get it filtered process (yeees not totally, you have to add the coffee manually and remove the heat as well.). BUT don’t underestimate the fancy aspect. Seriously, all of us know this “Oh my gosh, I had the best cup of coffee of my life back than in Costa Rica” experience, right?! And we know as well, that these countries are very likely to export their best coffee, instead of using it, right? So maybe the fancyness is be as important, as the holiday aspect. (Hope you get my point.)

Cheers from Germany!

(Adam Sepe) #3

For one, it’s an immersion method that, when using the cloth filter, doesn’t yield as much fines in the cup as French Press.
You can control the temperature, by the way. I keep my upper bowl at 190°F – a temperature that requires some effort at regulating; it can easily cruise over 200°F. The actual brewing process is also faster than the usual FP. It’s also, at least subjectively, more entertaining – fun – to do. And fun is a good thing :sunglasses::+1:

(joe ) #4

an immersion brew without temperature loss over time IS somewhat unique. also it is the cleanest immersion brew i’ve yet had as far as sediment left in your cup.

(Tio Nico) #5

I was Station INstructing in the Brewing and extraction class at SCA Seattle last April, I ended up with the French Press crew, wihch was fine (MY preferred multi-cup method) but another chap from somewhere offshore (perhaps somewhere Down UNder?) asked specifically for the siphon table, and was gladly given it. The Hario base was the ony heat option, whti which he was NOT familiar, so he had to run a number of test batches to get the upper hand on THAT device. Once in hand, though,he breweed batch after batch to perfection, a true master on the device. The standard coffee we had to use that day was unremarkable, and I suspect not well suited to that brew method. It was a washed Peruvian, if memory serves. A “base hit” coffee, nowhere near a “triple” let alone a hime run). It was OK in the frog pot, but nothing remarkable. I WAS impressed with the cleanness of the cup as he brewed it. It was a slo a rather full and rich flavour. That got me interested in investigating the method someday. It DOES take mastering the equipment for consistency. He normally used a gas flame, can’t recall which type or if custom, but he understood the process well, and cast about with th Hario base until he could get what he wanted out of it. I had asked the lead if it were posible whether I could work as his right hand so I could learn the method, but lead instructore said there was no one else who could ably take the French press lot. So I did, and we had a greeat time. I did get opportunity to watch him carefully for a few brews, though. My innate Rube GOldberg fascination probably drives much of this interest. It IS time comsuming, though.

Later on the trade show floor I saw a fully automated vaccum brew system put out by Bodun. I watched that in action a few times, asked whether ANY of the paramaters could be adjusted and was told essentially "our enginers know what is best they built that in, and there is no changing it. Hmph…

Any experienced folk out there recommdnd a particular branddj;;cxcc

(j l) #6

A new cafe in Glendale CA, has Siphons with the Hario base and I watched Leon the owner brew an Ethiopian washed, which was more tea like, contradicting “very rich cup”… It was still good though. He used a wet cloth to rub the bottom bulb to manage temperature, half expected a genie to pop out!

He did offer a natural and I took the washed, so I will go back and try a natural. Thanks for the tip!

A couple of years ago, visited Munich and hopped around a few cafes. Mahlefitz was favorite, Sebastian was still there then, great conversation about coffee.

I may try it, but that Hario base is quite expensive for just playing around unless I can get a compelling argument for Siphon.

(j l) #7

That is interesting, hadn’t thought about an immersion with no heat loss as such.

BTW, helpful tip for those Aeropress people out there… it is a bit tacky… but a beer koozie will perfectly fit an aeropress! So I prefill the chamber with boiling water, koozie retains heat and really helps extraction. Yes, inverted method, not so great otherwise :D:

And yes, actually bought in Maui for this espress purpose!

Anyway, maintaining heat should mean faster extraction though stirring the coffee seems to make it easy to over extract because of the heat.

(j l) #8

Coffee water ratio that you use for Siphon? Seems to fall into a middle range between Pourover and Immersion?

(joe ) #9

huh! interesting indeed

(Ole Leng) #10

Why is it difficult to master consistency, when it comes to the siphon?
I mean I get why it can be difficult to brew a perfect cup, but consistency is pretty easy?!

I work with a Siphon and our 20 coffees on a regular basis in our cafe/ roastery. The same temperature in the room, so the same heat loss in general. I turn on the Hario Base, Put in the same amount of water, with the same temperature. Wait until the water goes up, put in a certain amount of coffee, stir in the same way as always.

Consistency wise that’s not a big problem, especially compared to pour overs or espresso distribution and Tamping?!

@homecafe Hmm I think at least immersion ratio. Probably even more coffee. As some of the water will stay at the bottom, I would generally add a little bit more coffee. Start with 1:15 and taste it!

@Adam_Sepe Yep, you can control the heat, but in my opinion you run into more problems trying to reach a certain temperature than just boiling and letting the Hario Base on full power. Good quality coffee, water, ratio and time are much more important variables. If these variables are figured out and consistent, I don’t really care about the temperature. What do you think? (Indirectly I considered the temperature via taste then. Temperature not measured but should be consistent and get me to the flavour, I figured out controlling while the other variables. [Stable room temperature!!])

(Adam Sepe) #11

@ole_ng I agree with you on consistency, I have never had a problem with this method. On temperature, I suppose it’s just one of those variables I prefer to keep independent and not play with. Keeping/monitoring a stable 190°F has never been much trouble – I just clip a steaming thermometer to the upper bowl though I do remove it just before the immersion so that it doesn’t block the stir. I also keep other variables precise, like coffee:water, grind, and immersion and stirring time.

(Adam Sepe) #12

@homecafe I rarely diverge from my 1:17 brew ratio. I keep it consistent throughout my methods unless some extraordinary circumstance requires me to alter it. That said my grind size for siphon falls between drip and press.

(Ole Leng) #13

My little Setup at work :slight_smile:

(Jasmine Segura) #14

I’m glad you asked this! I’ve had the same question!