Some siphon brewers, not our bar... but same idea.


Seeing a coffee siphon for the first time gives the feeling of a chemistry set from a Jules Verne version of the future. Especially when it comes to the three Halogen-Heated coffee siphons sitting on our bar. With glowing heat sources causing water to bubble up and brew, you half expect the baristas to be wearing safety goggles like a scientist from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

So why is a siphon bar so cool? Two things.

Nostalgia and Taste.

Nostalgia

One of the reasons that the sight of a coffee siphon (AKA siphon brew or vac pot) is so retro looking is because this method of brewing coffee is actually quite old.

1841

Madame Vassieuxs "Glass Balloon" design (www.baharris.org)

The person credited with “inventing” the modern siphon coffee maker is a woman named Madam Vassieux. Her design was the first to be produced/sold on a large scale. Though a smaller scale version of this type of coffee maker can be dated all the way back to Berlin in the 1830’s [ineedcoffee.com]. This form of coffee maker is knocking on the door of 200 years old! That’s older than your parents’ computer.

Which is why it gives you the feeling of being back in time.

Second Part to Why Siphons are Amazing…

Taste.

In that early age of coffee, the baristas of the day had a very difficult task ahead of them: finding a way of brewing at the proper temperature and also filtering out the grounds.

That is where the vacuum coffee maker came in. It brewed at the proper brewing temperature (a bit under boiling) and then used cloth or metal to filter out the used coffee grounds.

In 2011, temperature and filtration aren’t concerns for coffee consumers anymore.

But the consumers of the 1800’s lived in the age of burnt coffee that tasted/felt like mud. So to them, a brewing method that made consistently great coffee was the iphone of their century.

The basic science behind this coffee maker is as follows:

  • There are two glass containers.
  • The bottom container holds the water.
  • A heat source is applied to that bottom section, causing the air and water to heat and expand.
  • Once hot enough, the steam and hot air push the hot water into the top section of glass to brew with the coffee.
  • After a short while, the heat source is removed and that causes the bottom section to cool.
  • When the air cools, a vacuum is created and sucks the brewed coffee through a filter back into the bottom section.
  • The top glass is removed along with the used grounds and oils left over from brewing.
  • Coffee is served. And minds are blown!

On the spectrum of coffee flavor, there is heavy and oil-driven taste at one end of the spectrum, and a perfectly clean cup at the other end of the spectrum.

Take that oil off the top.

Siphon brewing is on the far end of the clean side of the spectrum. All the oils stay in the top chamber of the siphon brewer, anis what remains is a light clean cup that showcases even the most delicate of flavors.

—————-

To confidently operate a siphon bar one needs more training that a marriage and family therapist. And installing it costs more than my first car (not saying much). But it still makes one ask:

why get one?

Is it just because this steam-powered coffee contraption looks cool and produces coffee that that tastes amazing only to the few people that can tell the difference?

Yup. That is exactly right.

Because if we don’t who will?

WWJVD

What Would Jules Verne Do?

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