Turns out I’m over a century too late when it comes to talking about the best siphon coffee makers … but better late than never, right? And if siphon or vacuum coffee is an entirely new concept to you, I’ve got plenty to say. So, let's get the ball rolling in my guide to the best siphon coffee makers!
Turns out I’m over a century too late when it comes to talking about the best siphon coffee makers … but better late than never, right? And if siphon or vacuum coffee is an entirely new concept to you, I’ve got plenty to say. So, let’s get the ball rolling in my guide to the best siphon coffee makers!
Table of Contents
Best Siphon Coffee Makers at a Glance
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick rundown of the best siphon coffee makers around:
What is a Siphon Coffee Maker?
Go to your favorite small town coffee shop to ask for siphon coffee, and there’s a good chance the only thing you’ll get in return will be a blank stare. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was a couple of centuries too late to the siphon coffee trend.
Originating in the 19th century, siphon coffee makers have become more of a novelty than a home staple. That’s why I didn’t originally address siphon brewing when I talked about the best ways to make coffee by hand. These days, you’re more likely to find siphons at specialty coffee shops or on the counters of coffee lovers who can’t get enough of the coffee siphon taste.
What is a siphon coffee maker, you ask? If you haven’t already come across this strange apparatus, let me explain. A siphon coffee maker is a bulb-shaped brewing pot with two chambers. When a heating element is introduced, the chambers create a vacuum that’ll brew your coffee. Hence the other nickname for these odd contraptions: vacuum coffee makers.
How Does a Siphon Coffee Maker Work?
Whether you passed Chemistry class or not, a siphon coffee maker is bound to bring out your inner mad scientist.
As complex as these vacuum coffee makers may look, the method of making siphon coffee is relatively simple. The bottom chamber acts as a carafe while the top becomes your coffee brewer.Water goes into the bottom chamber. When there’s a heat source underneath, the water vaporizes.
The type of heat source can depend on the siphon coffee maker you have. If you don’t mind dishing out a little extra cash, you can find vacuum coffee makers with their own heat sources. Otherwise, a gas stovetop, butane burner or even an alcohol burner will get the job done.
Not only does that water vapor create pressure inside the bottom chamber, it travels upward to the brewing chamber. Unsurprisingly, the ground coffee in the top chamber will begin to brew. When you remove the heat source, the bottom chamber cools down, drawing back the freshly brewed coffee from the top.
During this stage, the brewed coffee will pass through a filter, while coffee grounds will remain. The end result is fresh, piping-hot coffee ready to pour from the carafe.
Suffice to say, using a siphon coffee maker will probably feel a lot like conducting a science experiment. It’s certainly a more hands-on brewing method than a drip coffee maker or super automatic espresso machine. With a vacuum coffee maker, you get a front-row seat to watch the magic happen.
Why Use a Siphon Coffee Maker?
So, you know how a siphon coffee maker works, but what’s the point of shelling out cash for the best siphon coffee makers? Well, there are a couple of reasons to turn siphon coffee from an occasional treat to how you make your daily cup of joe.
The first – and most obvious – reason is that using a siphon coffee maker cultivates a completely different relationship to your morning brew. It’s much more of a sensory experience than flipping a switch on your 5 cup coffee maker or letting that Jura coffee machine do all the work.
With a glass siphon coffee machine, you’ll be able to watch the extraction process from start to finish. Talk about theatrics! If you’ve ever wanted to impress guests with a home brew, using a vacuum coffee maker is the way to do it.
Secondly, some coffee lovers will tell you that siphon coffee just tastes better. That may have to do with the temperature of the water. Rather than use boiling water, siphon coffee heats the water a few degrees under boiling point.
This way, you avoid over-extraction. Plus, this is an immersion brewing method, so you’re extracting a fuller range of flavors from your beans.
Really, a siphon vacuum coffee maker is for coffee drinkers who want more control over temperature and brew time. Not every home barista wants to deal with hands-on brewing. But for those that do, siphon coffee is a relatively inexpensive solution.
Choosing the Best Siphon Coffee Maker: What to Look For
Before I give you my recommendations for the best siphon coffee makers and vacuum coffee makers, let’s talk about features. You’ll be hard-pressed to find the best siphon coffee maker if you don’t know what makes it such a standout.
Electric vs. Non-Electric
It’s worth mentioning that some vacuum coffee makers come with their own heat sources – aka electric siphon coffee makers. These pots don’t require an external heat source, and their electric heaters aren’t unlike what you’d find in some water kettles.
The major perk of an electric siphon coffee maker is that you don’t have to worry about firing up the gas stove or dealing with a butane burner. Of course, an electric heat source also means less manual control over the temperature.
If that’s not something you want to give up, you might want to opt for a non-electric siphon coffee maker. It’ll save you a few bucks, but you may just end up investing that money back into a heat source. Butane burners and halogen lamps can be pricey.
The happy middle-ground is siphons that come with their own burners. I won’t pretend as if these built-in alcohol burners are always perfect, but they can be a good starting point.
Stovetop vs. Standalone
A heat source isn’t the only choice you’ll need to make with a vacuum coffee maker. You’ll also need to pick between a stovetop or a standalone siphon coffee maker.
This shouldn’t affect cup quality. Still, stovetop siphons can be a little more limiting. As the name suggests, you won’t be able to stray far – or any distance at all – from the stove.
I suppose you could argue that stovetop siphons lack some of the theatrics that people associate with siphon brewing. Still, between the two, stovetop siphons tend to be more affordable.
On the other hand, standalone siphon coffee makers operate a little differently. To make room for an external heat source, the bottom chamber is raised on a stand. Even if it’s a little pricier, a standalone siphon embodies the visual appeal of this brewing method. You get the chance to brew over an open flame … and hopefully, the experience won’t end with sirens or fire trucks.
More than just electric or standalone, you want a siphon coffee maker that’s going to stand the test of time. Some of the most important considerations when picking the best siphon coffee maker for you include:
- A sturdy handle (and no, I’m not talking about plastic)
- Borosilicate glass
- An upper chamber that locks in and out place easily
The 5 Best Siphon Coffee Makers
Now that I’ve covered how to find the best siphon coffee makers, let me show you some of my current favorites.
KitchenAid Electric SiphonBuy Now on Amazon
Maybe it’s a bad idea to lead with the KitchenAid Electric Siphon's price of $339.99, but what if I also told you that I’m naming this the best overall siphon coffee maker?
Despite the steep investment, I think the KitchenAid siphon coffee brewer does a good job of transforming the siphon brewing method from a parlor trick to everyday practicality. Not only will it make eight cups, but as an electric siphon, you don’t have to worry about dealing with an open flame.
Like I said – it’s practical. It’s also less hands-on, which can make all the difference on those mornings when you don’t have time to fiddle with Halogen lamps or butane burners. Ultimately, it’s as easy as filling it up with your ground coffee and flipping a switch.
The obvious sacrifice is that you’ll have less control over how you brew coffee with this machine. You can’t fiddle with temperature or brew time, which may be a drawback for some people.
However, you’ll still get a clear view of all the siphon brewing process dramatics. Once the water reaches the perfect temperature, the brewer automatically shuts off. Maybe it’s less of a showpiece than some pots. However, I’d consider this to be the ideal siphon coffee maker for anyone that wants convenience (and siphon coffee).
- Easy to use
- Stylish design
- Large capacity
- Less control over brewing process
Yama Glass Tabletop SiphonBuy Now on Amazon
For $75.99, the Yama Glass Tabletop Siphon certainly falls on the affordable end of the siphon coffee pot spectrum. It’s actually the least expensive on this list, even if it only wins first place by a hair. Either way, I’m naming it the best budget siphon coffee maker.
It’s got a 20-ounce (591 milliliter) capacity, so I wouldn’t expect to get more than a couple of cups at a time out of this siphon. With that said, the Yama’s durable construction certainly earns a few points.
Not only does the Yama siphon use hand blown glass, it’s also made from borosilicate glass. If that sounds like scientific jargon, let me explain. Borosilicate glass is resistant to thermal shock – it won’t crack or break during extreme temperature changes. It’s also non-porous, which means it won’t absorb odors.
Like many tabletop siphons, the lid doubles as a stand that you can use after the brewing process. Plus, your purchaseincludes a couple of reusable cloth filters.I won’t get into the debate of a cloth filter versus a paper filter, but at least it’s saving you a trip to the grocery store!
Really, my only complaint about the design of the Yama siphon is its plastic handle. Perhaps it’s too much to ask for something more durable in this price range, but I’m going to anyway.
- Great value
- Includes reusable cloth filters
- Handcrafted and hand blown glass
- Small capacity
- Plastic handle
Bodum 4-Cup Vacuum Coffee MakerBuy Now on Amazon
Siphon coffee makers already look cool, but the Bodum 4-Cup Vacuum Coffee Maker takes sleek and minimalistic to a whole new level. It’s a little pricier than the Yama at $116.70, but it also includes a gas burner. The burner holds a little more than 2 ounces (70 milliliters) of lighter fluid, which you can refill anytime you need to.
Since you don’t have to invest in a heat source, you may end up saving money with this vacuum coffee maker.
Once again, you’re getting heat resistant borosilicate glass that won’t crack under pressure – literally. That’s the bare minimum for most siphon coffee makers, but still worth mentioning. As a tabletop siphon, you should be able to comfortably take this vacuum coffee maker on the road … or at least to your patio.
I’m also relieved to see that Bodum hasn’t tried to slap a cheap plastic handle onto the side of this siphon. Instead, you’ll get a sustainable cork handle, which only adds to the retro design. Granted, the siphon brewer does use a plastic lid.
However, my favorite thing about this Bodum siphon brewed coffee maker? The Bodum brewer extracts the essential oils from the grounds, leaving you with a rich, balanced cup of coffee.
- Sleek design
- Includes gas burner
- Sustainable cork handle
- Plastic lid
Hario Technica Glass SiphonBuy Now on Amazon
At $82.45, the Hario Technica Glass Siphon barely misses being the most affordable siphon coffee maker on this list.
Beyond using borosilicate glass, the Hario siphon doesn’t cut any corners with plastic lids or handles. You’ll get high-quality stainless steel on the stand, filter and burner cover. The fasteners are brass, and the windbreak uses aluminum. In other words, you’re getting a well-made, durable siphon coffee maker.
Looks aside, I think it’s worth bringing up the tricky burner, which is easy to overfill. Plus, depending on the surface you’re using, the alcohol may stain some wood finishes. Combine that tricky burner with the high-maintenance cloth filter, and you may have a little bit of a learning curve on your hands.
All things considered, both of those issues add up to small potatoes. Once you’ve figured out how to manage the burner and filter, you’ll still have an excellent siphon capable of making five cups.
That may seem limiting, but with siphon coffee, less is usually more. Siphon brewers tend to function best when they’re close to maximum capacity. If you only need to brew for one or two people, the Hario Technica should produce the perfect amount.
- High-quality construction
- Includes a burner and cloth filters
- Perfect size
- Burner is difficult to use
- Cloth filter requires maintenance
Nispira Belgian Balance SiphonBuy Now on Amazon
Since siphon coffee makers are all about the aesthetics, allow me to introduce you to the most beautiful option in this article: the Nispira Belgian Balance Siphon.
Costing $149.99, this siphon coffee brewer looks like something you’d find in a royal household, and that’s the intent. You’ve got gold brushed stainless steel combined with a plated balancing shaft and a wooden base.
While it’s not as portable as some of the other siphon coffee makers I’ve talked about, it is compact. With a capacity of 16 ounces (500 milliliters), you shouldn’t expect it to handle more than a few cups at a time.
The small capacity of this siphon coffee brewer may seem odd, considering it’s a showpiece. I mean, this isn’t the kind of vacuum brewer you let collect dust in your cabinet. If you aren’t showing it off to guests, you’re probably letting it attract attention on your counter.
Of course, looks aren’t the only appeal of this coffee siphon. It uses the sameheat resistant borosilicate glass I’d expect from a siphon brewer, and it’s got a non-slip base. While the glass may be able to handle some heat, it might not survive a fall from the counter.
Ultimately, the Nispira siphon makes the entire brewing process feel like it’s supposed to: theatrical. That isn’t to say this isn’t a good coffee siphon for everyday use. Still, if you want to make your coffee-loving friends jealous, this gadget will really deliver.
- Gorgeous design
- Non-slip base
- Not very portable
Siphon Coffee Maker Comparison Chart
|KitchenAid Electric Siphon
|Yama Glass Tabletop Siphon
|Bodum 4-Cup Vacuum Coffee Maker
|Hario Technica Glass Siphon
|Nispira Belgian Balance Siphon
|Siphon Coffee Brewer
|Siphon Vacuum Coffee Maker
|4-Cup Vacuum Coffee Maker
|Technica Glass Siphon Coffee Maker
|Luxury Balance Siphon Coffee Maker
|Electric siphon coffee maker
|Tabletop siphon coffee maker
|Tabletop siphon coffee maker
|Tabletop siphon coffee maker
|Tabletop siphon coffee maker
|Glass, stainless steel, plastic
|Glass, plastic, stainless steel
|Glass, stainless steel, cork
|Glass, plastic, stainless steel
|Stainless steel, glass, wood
|Butane / halogen
|Butane / alcohol
|4.8 lb / 2.2 kg
|2.2 lb / 1.0 kg
|2.8 lb / 1.3 kg
|3.1 lb / 1.4 kg
|5.6 lb / 2.5 kg
|14.3 x 6.7 x 8.7 in / 36.3 x 17.0 x 22.1 cm
|14.0 x 4.0 x 4.0 in / 35.6 x 10.2 x 10.2 cm
|15.8 x 5.5 x 7.9 in / 40.1 x 14.0 x 20.1 cm
|14.0 x 4.3 x 6.2 in / 35.6 x 11.0 x 15.7 cm
|15.7 x 5.0 x 12.2 in / 40 x 12.7 x 31 cm
|Current price on Amazon
So, I’ve done all the legwork of finding the best siphon coffee makers. Of course, it’s still up to you to decide which of these is the best siphon coffee maker for your lifestyle. Whether it’s aesthetics, practicality or affordability you’re after, none of the options on this list will steer you wrong!
Do any of the best siphon coffee makers in this article pique your interest? Let me know what you think in the comments section!
Best Siphon Coffee Maker FAQ
A siphon coffee maker uses an upper chamber, bottom chamber and plenty of vapor pressure to brew your coffee.
If you enjoy the taste of siphon coffee or would like more control over the brewing process, a siphon coffee maker may be worth it.
Siphon coffee works best with a medium grind size.
It can take anywhere from two to four minutes to siphon coffee with one of these machines.