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Siphon coffee brewers are enjoying a new reign of popularity, and why not? They look like something that should be sitting in a sleek laboratory and make coffee that’s velvety smooth, rich and delicious. First invented in the 1850s, siphon brewers enjoyed top popularity status for about 75 years before being supplanted by percolators as every household’s must-have coffee-making appliance. They range from the very basic design of the Silex siphon brewer to the elaborate custom-made siphon brewers created for court and diplomatic functions in countries around the world.
Siphon brewers rely on basic physics to brew coffee. They consist of two containers that fit snugly together with a tube between them, a filter, and, most often, a stand to hold the two containers in the right position. You fill the bottom vessel with water and the top with ground coffee. As the air in the bottom vessel gets hot, it expands, pushing the water up into the top vessel, where it mixes with the ground coffee to brew. When you remove the brewer from the heat source, the lower chamber cools and the condensing air creates a vacuum that pulls the brewed coffee down through the filter and into the bottom chamber. That’s really all there is to it — but it’s a show-stopping way to make coffee at the table when you have dinner guests.
New siphon brewers come with complete instructions, but what if you’ve found an old Silex vacuum brewer at a yard sale — or just want some expert tips on getting the best results from your siphon brewer. We’ve got you covered. Here’s how to brew coffee in a siphon coffee brewer.
1. Heat water until it is near to boiling.
2. While the water heats, install the filter in the funnel. This generally involves dropping the chain attached to the filter through the funnel and hooking the other end of the chain over the lip of the funnel.
3. Grind coffee for filter drip brewing — about medium fine. It shouldn’t be as fine as for espresso, but finer than for an automatic drip coffee maker.
4. Measure about 7g of coffee per 150 ml of water into the funnel.
5. Pour the hot water into the bottom vessel.
6. Place the funnel into the bottom globe and let it settle in for an airtight fit.
7. Place the brewer over a heat source and wait for the water to rise through the tube and into the funnel.
8. When most of the water has moved to the top bowl — a little will remain in the bottom — wait 30 seconds, stir the coffee to agitate the grounds — and wait another 30-60 seconds.
9. Remove the coffee brewer from the heat and wait. Within a few seconds the bottom globe will cool, the air inside with contract and the coffee will whoosh down from the funnel into the bowl.
10. Serve your coffee and enjoy!