While siphon coffee makers aren’t the quickest or easiest way to brew coffee, the stunning, intricate designs and delicious coffee they produce are exciting. Although siphon brewing requires more skill than other coffee maker varieties, it is more fun and rewarding, too! We made this guide to simplify your search for the perfect siphon coffee maker for your brewing pleasure.
We started off by researching dozens of siphon coffee makers, looking over manufacturer claims, and dismissing any that didn’t meet our standards. After that, we turned to user reviews from actual customers. This gave us a better idea of how well these coffee makers work in real life, the benefits and drawbacks of each product, and what consumers look for overall from a siphon coffee maker.
Once we narrowed our selections down to fewer than 10 coffee makers, we sought out expert opinions. We talked directly to a former barista to see what he had to say about siphon coffee makers and read reviews and articles written by several other current and former baristas. With their input and insight, we were able to pick the best and most useful siphon coffee makers.
Why buy a siphon coffee maker?
If you’re a big fan of the smell of brewing coffee, you’ll love using a siphon coffee maker. No other type of coffee maker enhances and allows the aroma of fresh coffee to waft about the room the way that siphon coffee makers do. The clear body of these devices also gives you a front-row seat to the coffee-making process. You can watch every step of the brewing process in action.
These coffee makers are often quite beautiful as well, especially the more intricate glass and metal models. They make brewing coffee feel like art, theater, and science all in one.
When used properly, siphon coffee makers produce very clean cups of coffee. Using one of these devices greatly reduces your risk of finding coffee grounds in your freshly brewed cup of joe. And many coffee aficionados believe that siphon coffee makers create some of the richest, fullest-bodied, and best-tasting java due to the high-immersion and low-pressure extraction nature of the brewing. It’s an involved process, but the results are well worth the effort. And as a bonus, the vacuum-style brewing of siphon coffee makers means that most of them can brew loose-leaf tea, not just coffee.
What should you look for in a siphon coffee maker?
- Design: While most coffee brewing methods value function above form, siphon coffee makers are unique in that a beautifully crafted design truly elevates the brewing experience. However, a siphon brewer’s refined intricacy shouldn’t come at the expense of it being easy to use and durable enough to last for many years. For this reason, seek out a model that pairs form with function, and be sure to treat it delicately so that you can enjoy it for years to come.
- Heat Source: Most siphon coffee makers utilize alcohol or butane burners to heat water and brew delicious coffee. Alcohol burners are inexpensive and hands-on but can be a little messy. Butane (gas), on the other hand, is a little pricier but requires less effort and is easier to control. There are also some great electric options out there that are very simple to use, although these generally don’t allow for customizing the heat level while brewing. Stovetop models are another alternative, though for safety’s sake, make sure that the siphon is explicitly listed as stovetop safe and is compatible with the type of stove you own.
- Filter: Siphon coffee makers usually offer metal or cloth filter options, although some models come with both types of filters. Metal filters are usually stainless steel and allow coffee oils into the brew, as well as the tiniest of coffee grounds. This will result in a full-bodied brew with a punchy aroma. Cloth filters, on the other hand, are a great way to eliminate coffee grounds from the end product for a silky, lighter brew.
How do siphon coffee makers work?
Siphon coffee makers are made up of two main containers, almost always stacked on top of each other and connected by a thin neck with a filter. Most of these containers are rotund in shape and made out of glass, though the top chamber may be more rectangular in some cases. Occasionally, you’ll find a model where one container is metal and/or the containers are side-by-side.
Whichever shape or design they come in, siphon coffee makers are vacuum brewers. The bottom container is filled with water; the top is filled with coffee grounds. Heat is applied to the lower compartment, usually in the form of a small burner placed underneath for non-electric models, to bring the water to a boil. This causes the water to vaporize and rise into the upper compartment and mingle with the coffee grounds. (Many people stir the mixture here, to help it blend better.)
Once the water and coffee have steeped for a sufficient amount of time, the heat is turned off, and gravity does the rest. The water, now blended into coffee, trickles back down into the lower container through the filter. The two containers can then be detached, and the coffee poured into your cup. The lower compartment often has some sort of heat-resistant handle, so you don’t have to worry about burning your hand.
How long does it take to make coffee in a siphon coffee maker?
Brewing coffee in a siphon coffee maker is a bit longer of a process compared to many other types of coffee makers. You’ll have to bring the water to a boil, which usually takes around five minutes; the actual time will vary depending on factors like your starting water temperature, the amount of water in the lower compartment, and whether you’re using electricity, gas, or alcohol to heat the water.
Then you’ll need to let the water and coffee grounds steep together, which takes another five minutes or so. And then, once the heat is switched off, you have to wait for the siphon to cool down and the newly made coffee to trickle into the bottom container before you can serve it. So while it’s hard to pinpoint the exact amount of time it’ll take to brew a cup of java with a siphon coffee maker, count on setting aside at least 10-15 minutes for this task, possibly as many as 20.
How many cups of coffee can a siphon coffee maker brew at once?
On average, a siphon coffee maker will have a maximum capacity of around 5 cups. They certainly can be used to make smaller quantities, only 1 or 2 cups at a time (it all depends on how much water and coffee grounds you use). Siphon coffee makers are great for people who live alone, couples, and for serving up to three or four people at once. They’re usually not a great choice for larger families or groups, though. Three rounds of brewing sessions to make coffee for a party of 10 would be a rather time-consuming hassle.
Diguo Belgian Luxury Syphon Coffee Maker
This siphon coffee maker features a sophisticated design that is durably constructed for long-term use.
Pros: It’s hard to imagine a more aesthetically pleasing coffee maker, of any variety, than this siphon coffee maker. The glass and metal construction, the rose gold plating, and the wooden base combine for an incredibly beautiful, refined, vintage-style coffee maker. And if the rose gold isn’t your thing, there are three other sophisticated plating colors from which you can choose. This siphon coffee maker isn’t just for show, either. The materials are strong and high-quality. The metal is tough, durable stainless steel, the glass is borosilicate to better hold up under constant temperature fluctuation, and the seal is medical-grade silicone. Included are a reusable cloth filter, coffee scoop, and a measuring cup for water.
Cons: This model is much pricier than the average siphon coffee maker. Even though the reusable cloth filter will help defray recurring costs, you’ll also have to consider the expense of the alcohol needed for the burner. And while the side-by-side nature (rather than the usual vertical design) adds a unique look and enhances its aesthetics, it’s a bit trickier to use than a classic siphon. More likely than not, it’ll take you a couple of tries (and a few less than optimal vats of coffee) to get the hang of this device, especially if you’re already accustomed to using a standard vertical siphon coffee maker.
Bottom Line: The Diguo Belgian Luxury Syphon Coffee Maker might look more like a piece of art than a coffee maker, but it is as functional as they come and will brew amazing coffee while putting on a show for your guests. This siphon coffee maker features a sturdy wooden base and is solidly constructed to ensure years of use. It’s also very easy to clean and produces strong yet smooth coffee without a hint of bitterness. While this product is a bit tricky to use the first couple of times, once you get the hang of it, the process becomes almost cathartic and is a delightfully zen way to mindfully begin your morning.
iCoffee Tabletop Coffee Siphon
This budget-friendly siphon coffee maker comes with a reusable flannel filter and is constructed of high-quality borosilicate glass.
Pros: Don’t underestimate the importance of a good, firm, protective grip on a siphon coffee maker. The handle is nice and long, almost half a foot in length. This not only gives you plenty of room to grasp it and makes picking it up and pouring easier but keeps your hand and fingers well away from the siphon’s heated lower bowl and the hot coffee inside. The handle also has a rubber grip, which is both easier to get a firm grip on and prevents the handle from conducting heat from the boiling water. The upper and lower containers are made of heatproof borosilicate glass that won’t crack under boiling temperatures and will hold up better to fluctuating temperatures than regular glass. Despite these qualities, this siphon coffee maker is still economically priced; its cost is lower than many comparable models.
Cons: Despite what the listing says, this siphon coffee maker actually has a smaller capacity than average. It’s listed as being able to make a maximum of 5 cups of coffee at once, but multiple consumers reported that they couldn’t make more than 2 or 3 cups per brewing session. The instructions it provides aren’t particularly detailed either, especially where the alcohol burner and its fuel requirements are concerned. Beginners might want to seek out a model with more detailed instructions.
Bottom Line: While not as ornate as our top pick, the iCoffee Coffee Siphon possesses an understated beauty as well as a price tag that is sure to be an alluring factor for coffee lovers. Featuring high-quality borosilicate glass and a large rubber handle that gives you a firm grip while pouring, it is clear that a lot of thought went into designing this budget-friendly unit. This siphon coffee maker is also simpler to use than many other options due to its straightforward design, and it produces incredibly good coffee, making it the best option for coffee enthusiasts at its price range.
KitchenAid Siphon Coffee Brewer
This electric siphon coffee maker is simple to use and comes with a stainless steel and a cloth filter.
Pros: Finding a tabletop siphon coffee maker with a capacity larger than 4 or 5 cups can be a bit of a challenge, but your search is at an end with this model. It has a larger-than-average maximum capacity, able to brew up to 8 cups of coffee at a time. Since this is an electric model, you don’t have to worry about supplying gas or alcohol since no separate burner is required, and it comes with an auto-shutoff feature. Unlike in some other coffee makers, the shutoff actually triggers once the device has reached its perfect heating temperature, so it’s a bit more hands-off than most. Another useful feature is the bottom container. Instead of a glass bowl, the bottom half of this coffee maker is a built-in carafe almost identical to those that come with drip coffee makers for easier detaching and pouring. And whether you prefer a cloth filter or a metal filter, this device has you covered; it comes with one of each.
Cons: If you prefer to make smaller batches of coffee, this siphon coffee maker isn’t the best choice for your needs. Since the body is so large, water for 1 or 2 cups of coffee won’t be enough to fill the siphon’s neck and churn the coffee grounds. You’ll have to make a minimum of 3 cups for this device to work properly. And washing this coffee maker is trickier than most. It’s hand wash only, and you have to be very careful with the lower half due to the electronics in the base; it can’t be dunked or submerged in water. This model is very expensive, so it’s not a good option for the budget-conscious.
Bottom Line: For those that love the taste of siphon coffee and the aesthetic of its unique brewing process but desire a less hands-on experience, the KitchenAid Siphon Coffee Brewer is for you. This electric siphon coffee maker features an impressive 8-cup capacity. It also turns off automatically after reaching the ideal heating temperature to ensure no guesswork is required on the user’s end. While this product is somewhat trickier to clean than non-electric models, its convenience and coffee quality is truly top-notch.
Yama Siphon Stovetop Coffee Maker
A high-quality siphon coffee maker that works equally well on stovetops as well as kitchen countertops.
Pros: Not all stovetop siphon coffee makers are compatible with all stove types, but this one works with both gas and electric ranges. Even stovetops with electric coils are acceptable; this siphon comes with a wire diffuser that pairs with these sorts of burners. It comes with a reusable cloth filter and a measuring spoon, and the lid is multipurpose; it doubles as a siphon stand once the brewing is finished. The 8-cup capacity is higher than many other models (note that this is assuming 1 cup equals 4 ounces, rather than 8), and the bottom half of the coffee maker is shaped to be a removable carafe once the coffee is completed. It even has a handle and measurement markings along the side to make it easier to fill your coffee maker with the proper amount of water every time.
Cons: You have to be a lot more careful with how hot you let the stovetop get. The glass is prone to cracking on too high a heat or if stirred with a metal spoon. For best results, you’ll want to heat up this siphon on low heat (never on high heat), which is safer but also adds more time to the brewing process. Considering siphon coffee makers already take longer to make coffee than most other methods, you may not want to carve out any extra time in your morning routine for brewing coffee.
Bottom Line: If you prefer to use your stovetop as the heat source for siphon-made coffee, the highly compatible Yama Siphon Stovetop Coffee Maker is an excellent option for just about any range. It offers a higher-than-average capacity and a handy built-in carafe that makes it measuring and pouring a much easier task. As long as you have time to spare to brew your coffee properly and don’t mind a more hands-on siphon, you’ll love the results produced by this model.
Yama Glass Siphon Vacuum Coffee Maker
This siphon coffee maker features reusable cloth filters and hand-crafted borosilicate glass.
Pros: Functional and practical doesn’t have to mean unappealing, as this siphon coffee maker readily proves. This sleek, attractive piece will be a surefire conversation starter when you have guests over. It strikes the perfect balance between a vintage elegant and modern design and will suit most kitchen decors. Don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a flimsy, delicate coffee maker, though. The body is made of high-quality, hand-blown borosilicate glass. This type of glass is known for its resistance to heat and temperature fluctuation, making it the perfect material for a coffee maker; it’ll hold up well to constant heating and cooling, and constant contact with boiling water won’t cause it to crack or shatter. It’s non-porous and odor-resistant as well. As a bonus, the siphon’s lid doubles as a stand once brewing is complete, so you have a convenient and safe place to stash the top container when serving and pouring your newly made coffee.
Cons: This isn’t the best coffee maker for busy mornings or when you’re running late. This isn’t a device that’s easy to clean, either. The openings and necks of both containers are very small, so you’ll need a narrow sponge to fit inside and wash them properly. Leftover coffee grounds have a habit of getting stuck in the upper container and are very hard to shake loose, too.
Bottom Line: Rounding out our list is the Yama Glass Siphon Vacuum Coffee Maker, which scores major points for its beautiful hand-crafted design and affordable price point. This product is ideal for use with a slightly finer grind of coffee than one would use in a drip coffee maker but is fun to experiment with in terms of heat settings and the coffee you use. If you are intrigued by this product’s unique design, you likely won’t be let down by the coffee it produces.
What’s the best water-to-coffee ratio for a siphon coffee maker?
A 16:1 ratio is considered the best for siphon coffee makers: 16 ounces of water for every ounce of coffee grounds you put in. Note that 2 tablespoons equal 1 ounce, so you’d add 2 cups of water for every 2 tablespoons of ground coffee. For instance, if you wanted to make 3 cups of coffee, you’d put 6 tablespoons of coffee grounds into the top compartment of the siphon and 6 cups of water in the bottom one.
What type of coffee grounds work best with siphon coffee makers?
A medium grind is the way to go for siphon coffee makers. Since siphons are most commonly used with metal or cloth filters, if your coffee grounds are too fine, they’ll likely get stuck inside the filter and clog it. However, coffee grounds that are too coarse will brew too quickly and lose some of their flavor in the process. Thus if you want the smooth, full-bodied flavor that siphon-brewed coffee is known for, stick with medium coffee grounds.
Are stovetop or countertop siphon coffee makers a better choice?
It depends on which factor is more important to you—cost or range. Stovetop models tend to be less expensive since you don’t have to buy a burner or separate heating source; you already have your stove at home and use that to heat up and boil your water. However, they do limit where you can make your coffee. It’ll have to be made on your kitchen stovetop. Countertop models, on the other hand, can be moved around and used on any heat-safe surface in your home since they have smaller, portable burners. You can even bring them on the go with you, provided you have a very safe way of transporting these mostly glass devices. In such a scenario, a stovetop model will only do you any good if you’re going somewhere where you know you’ll have access to a stove, like a friend’s house.
While using a siphon coffee maker is a more involved and slightly longer process than most types of coffee makers, the tradeoff is a smooth, grain- and debris-free, and full-bodied cup of coffee. It takes time and practice to perfect the process, but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll love the end results.
If you don’t like the look of any of these siphon coffee makers or want to see what else is out there, here are a few other models we’d recommend: