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Thread: My Syphon Adventures

  1. #1
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    My Syphon Adventures

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    Six months ago I would never have even considered a syphon coffee pot. For me coffee meant only one thing - an espresso brewed in a commercial espresso machine.
    Recently while waiting for a friend I stopped into Coffee Brothers in Mona Vale (sydney) and got talking to the barista. While waiting for my espresso they offered me a cup of coffee from their batch brew machine. It looked like tea to me, light brown and watery but it was a cold rainy day so i figured it would spin my coffee experience out a little longer. I was actually surprised by the taste. Nothing like an espresso but the taste was pleasant and light. It made me reconsider my very narrow view of coffee.
    A few months later i saw a syphon machine being offered by a fellow coffee snobs member in the Pay it forward section. Luckily I was the first to contact Blurry and we met up to do the deal.
    So now I am the proud owner of a Bodum Pebo syphon pot.
    My first experience did not go so well. The coffee was very weak, lacking any real flavour. It was just hot black water. I did notice that as the water pushed up into the top container, there was still a fair amount of water in the lower container, sitting below the pipe from the top bowl. So when the pot was removed from the heat the coffee was diluted by this water. I would say there was at least half a cup of water that did not come into contact with coffee grounds. It would seem that the tube from the top container needed to be longer - sitting just below the base of the lower container.
    Is this a common problem with these pots? has anyone out there found a way to overcome it?
    Or should i just accept that this is just part of the nature of syphon pots and a characteristic of the coffee they produce?
    Interested to hear others experiences

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    We have a Hario syphon at home. I've never used it (it's the girlfriend's baby) but I've watched her make plenty of coffee with it. There is always a little bit of water left in the bottom but I would say it is a lot less than half a cup.

    Here is a video of the Hario in action (not my video) and you can see how much water is left in the bottom. I'm not familiar with the bodum syphon though.


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    Tried it again last night and theres about 15mm of water left in the bottom before it starts sucking steam. This is at least half a cup though more likely about 3/4. My wife is american and when i suggested the coffee made in the syphon was like american diner coffee she laughed and said it was "way way worse" than diner coffee. So I have No aroma and limited flavour... this is not going well for me.

    I started thinking about somehow extending the pipe so that it sits much closer to the bottom of the lower flask. not sure how id do it but it seems the logical solution to getting all the water in contact with the coffee.
    At first I thought i could just tip it out, but realised that would remove the vacuum which sort of defeats the purpose, that and waving the top flask around full of water and coffee while i empty the water out is probably a recipe for disaster.

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    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Aaron, this 'problem' you've encountered is not a problem at all. In fact it's exactly the way that all syphon/vac pots work. The amount of water left in the pot would vary from brand to brand, however it's always there. If you think about it there's a very good reason why. Do you want me to tell you? Or should we wait and see if you can figure it out.

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    Senior Member magnafunk's Avatar
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    Are you running it at maximum capacity? Perhaps if you're only half filling it, it is getting diluted twice as much as it's designed to be?

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    Im probably not maxing it out completely so there is that magnafunk. Its a pretty big pot.
    Leroy, I can't think of any reason why, when brewing coffee, you would want part of the water not to come into contact with the coffee, unless a feature of syphon coffee is that it is diluted. I guess every "problem" is only a matter of thinking- "My espresso machine is on fire" is a problem, but "now my machine is keeping me warm" is another way of looking at it.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron View Post
    Leroy, I can't think of any reason why, when brewing coffee, you would want part of the water not to come into contact with the coffee,
    Hint: Ignore the coffee, think of the physics of the glass heating chamber.


    Java "Science is not only fun, it's informative!" phile
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  8. #8
    Senior Member magnafunk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron View Post
    "My espresso machine is on fire" is a problem, but "now my machine is keeping me warm" is another way of looking at it.
    Another way of looking at "My beautiful syphon brew is all over the bench and riddled with broken glass" is "at least it's not diluted"
    SilentBoB likes this.

  9. #9
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    As our learned friends have alluded to, it's basically a necessity as if the pot was to boil dry you would then have an empty glass vessel sitting on a hot element. It would then heat up really fast and when you took it off and reintroduced the coffee to it it could shatter. Even if it survived a couple of times it could damage the pot (or the cooktop if it was ceramic) each time.
    So you never want it to boil dry, in fact the instruction manuals all state this. You will always have water left in the bottom pot. Therefor you just need to account for this with your ratio of coffee to water. If you're finding it too weak then simply add more coffee for the same amount of water, or reduce the amount of water. Also have the heat as low as you can and avoid having the coffee boil while brewing.

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    I understand the need to keep some water in the bottom of the pot, My problem is that there seems to be too much water - that is, an amount of water that is a significant proportion of the finished coffee. I would guestimate somewhere in the vicinity of 15 - 20% additional. if diluting coffee by this much is a feature of Syphon Brew than i guess its maybe just not for me.

  11. #11
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    I think you need to show us a couple of photos Aaron: one when the water in the bottom chamber is at its lowest and one taken whe n the coffee has finished drawing down into the bottom chamber.
    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    ...or reduce the amount of water.
    I disagree. you may need to increase the volume of water added at the start so there is a larger quantity of coffee drawn up into the ground coffee and then down at the end. Hence the ratio of brewed coffee to undrawn water is greater. Magna funk also made this point. I have a 3-cup syphon and always brew at least 2 cups. I usually have about a tablespoon of undrawn water before drawdown starts
    This video suggest there is a fair qty left over after updraw

  12. #12
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    I use a slight variation on the 'usual' syphon brewing method, in that I don't grind and add the coffee until the requisite volume of water has been collected in the upper (Brew) chamber. Use a chopstick to stir through and around the brewing coffee for about 30 Sec., leave idle for another 30 sec then turn the gas off and wait for the brew to enter the lower chamber.

    For me, this produces a rich, sweet brew that is really very more-ish and worth the wait of the setting up and clean up later on...

    Mal.

  13. #13
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    I follow the same procedure as Mal. And as far as the ratio of water to coffee goes it really just comes down to experimentation.
    Dimal likes this.

  14. #14
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Flynnaus,
    thats the same pot as my one, and the video shows about the same amount of water left in the bottom - though it is hard to tell as you never get a clear shot of it, theres more shots of that hipsters head than of the coffee pot.
    If your pot is only leaving a table spoon of water in the bottom then i guess the Bodum pot just isn't as precisely designed, as the pipe to the upper pot sits about 20mm above the base of the lower pot when it is placed in position. This leaves a great deal more than a tablespoon to dilute the coffee. I have been hesitant to max it out and make a completely full pot, but i guess this would result in less dilution. but somehow i still don't think it is going to result in what Mal describes. I guess i will just have to keep an eye out for a smaller syphon somewhere down the track.



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