Siphon Brew

Siphon Brew

If you’re thinking that a siphon brewer and its attendant processes are the height of abject steampunk hipsterism when it comes to making a cup of coffee, we at Lou’s would have difficulty countering that thought. Nevertheless, it’s not a bad way to produce a good cup of coffee when done right. So, park that single gear bike, curate those beards, trim those bangs, wrap that hair in a scarf, and cut the sleeves off that vintage CBGB’s T. It’s time to Siphon Brew! Japanese style, yes that’s right, Japanese (not oriental) ‘cuz there are different regional approaches to this process and we happen to like the Japanese one the best, if for no other reason than that when “stirring the grounds, emulate a school of fish that stays together in formation” versus the American style “stir grounds, creating a deep fast whirlpool”. While the results may be indiscernible to taste, the former description truly embraces all things hipster and that’s not all bad, really.

In our opinion siphon brewing seems to go best with fruitier naturals for our tastes. Nonetheless the process works with any bean type. The choice, as always, is yours. Experiment and have fun.

What you’ll need

Coffee - 20 grams of your favorite Lou’s whole bean coffee, if you can’t pick, go with an Ethiopian natural medium roast. 

Scale – a digital scale works best for us, one that you can tare to 0 weight (most of them do this).

Grinder – burr grinders are best for their consistency of grind. The Barzata Encore is a starter really good home unit. 

Siphon brewer – we’re using a Hario AC 2 Siphon Brewer. Make sure you have the filter with you and soaking for about five minutes ahead of time.

Bamboo Stir Paddle – or something else that will encourage the coffee grounds to swim like fish in formation.

Canned Heat – The process will be especially poignant if you have “on the road again” looping while the sterno is burning. Whatever you do, Do Not take the brown acid.

Kettle – Some pre-heated water will help move the process along.

Thermometer – a decent all-purpose quick read digital thermometer is best.

Water. Clean drinking water. Water tastes different form place to place all over the world and will affect the taste of what you’re brewing. How aware of that you’ll be depends on your individual taste sensitivity. Filtered or non-filtered, guide yourself accordingly.

Time To Brew

  1. Soak the filter in warm water for about 5 minutes prior to use. Put the filter in the middle of the upper chamber and pull the chain to secure the filter and set aside for a moment.
  2. Grind 20 gm of coffee at a medium setting, finer than French Press but coarser than you would do Pour Over.
  3. Pour 250 ml of pre-heated water into the lower section in its stand and light up the sterno. Waiting for the water to boil without pre-heating the water can take a very long time, with pre-heated water it still takes time.
  4. Check the water temperature, as it gets around the 80C to 85C range, the heat, insert the upper chamber snugly and pour the ground coffee into the upper chamber.
  5. As the water gets closer to boil it will raise/shoot/kick up into the upper chamber, when it is past the nominal 2.5 cm mark, use the paddle to immerse the coffee into the water but do not stir yet.
  6. Leave the siphon on heat for about 30 seconds. Then start stirring counterclockwise for no more than 12 rotations creating a fast deep whirlpool with minimal stirring. This is where you evoke the image of keeping the school of coffee ground fish together.
  7. Carefully remove the canned heat from the siphon and extinguish.
  8. With the canned heat removed, the coffee ought to return into the lower bowl over the course of 30 to 90 seconds, if its stuck, you may need to gently break the seal between the upper and lower. You probably want to use oven mitts. Both chambers will be hot to touch.
  9. Remove the upper chamber, set aside, and decant the coffee out of the lower chamber and enjoy preferably while wearing a flannel shirt.