Boiling water is pushed through the metal pipet. By the time the water reaches the grounds, it has cooled down a few degrees. The result: Coffee and water meet at the perfect temperature to extract the oils and flavours, but not so hot as to impart “scorched” taste. The beauty of this process is that the coffee is brewed by extended contact with water at exactly the right brewing temperature, the temperature is maintained throughout the process, and then the coffee is immediately separated from the grounds.
The system traps the delicate aroma and flavours in the closed canister to produce a coffee unlike any you’ve ever tasted. The bitter grounds stay in the glass carafe by way of a gold filter at the end of the overflow pipe. There are no paper filters to impart a slightly papery taste, or even worse, to take up the aromatic oils that give the different coffees their unique taste. The coffee from a syphon can best be described as “crystal clear”, with high purity of flavour and aroma and no bitterness added by the brewing process. Any faults in the coffee flavour will also show up, so syphon users tend to gravitate to the best beans they can find. No other brewer can give the same purity of character and lack of bitterness due to the precise temperature control, since the coffee brews about 2 degrees Celsius below boiling point, without ever actually boiling.
This is a beautiful machine. Not only does it make superbly brewed coffee, it is also a journey into science and a visual spectacle. The design of this coffee maker dates back to the 1830s.
The machine works using gravity and vacuum principles: first, you place ground coffee in the heavy glass brew chamber. Next, you fill the boiler chamber with hot water and place it on the apparatus. A tube connects the two chambers. When full of water the boiler sits low on the swing frame and holds the lid open on the alcohol wick burner. When the water boils it is forced into the brewing chamber- at this point the boiler raises and the lid of the burner closes extinguishing the flame.
A vacuum is created in the boiler and the brewed coffee from the brewing chamber is now miraculously drawn back into the boiler from where it can be served from the little tap… The tube that connects the chamber has a very fine washable mesh filter that never needs replacing. The entire process is quite a visual spectacle and the coffee can easily be prepared at the table. This machine is a modern reproduction of a 19th-century design from Europe. It is very well made: the metalwork and glass chamber are top quality.