How to Use a Syphon Coffee Maker

Want to know how to use a syphon or vacuum coffee maker? Its not as hard as you think! Using a Syphon is like playing with a chemistry set – except with tasty results!


The Prep

What You Will Need:

Although you won’t need all the items that we’ll list, you will require a syphon to make syphon coffee. We’ll be using the 3 cup Heisenberg Syphon by Grosche.

For coffee, we suggest buying whole bean and having a grinder at the ready. We’ll be grinding the beans using the Bremen Burr Grinder, another Grosche product, at the last possible second in order to achieve maximum freshness. We’ll be grinding up the Don Pio which was roasted near us in Waterloo, Canada by Aroma Café.

To save time and kerosene you’ll want to use a kettle to preheat your water. The Breville IQ has an optimum range of pre-sets which we find useful  for many different brewing techniques. With syphon you don’t need to be too picky with your kettle, but one that give a drip-free pour can be very helpful. If your kettle causes turbulent pouring you may want to pick up a goose-neck kettle or use a different container after bringing the water to a boil.

What You Might Want:

Because we’re striving for the perfect cup, we’ll be using a scale to weigh our coffee in order to achieve a ratio suited for the syphon that we’re using. Digital or analogue scales will both work well, but we’ll be using the Aprilia series of scales by Zweissen.

For a precision brew you may also want to use a kitchen timer

The Steps

Step One – Boil and Build

Let’s start by bringing the water to a boil. With the IQ kettle we can keep our water at a rolling boil while the syphon is being set up.

While that’s boiling, we can set up the syphon with the bottom beaker firmly attached to the stand. Light the alcohol burner and place it under the bottom beaker on low heat. Place the filter in the top beaker with the filter chain passing through the water pipe. A nice feature with the Heisenberg is that we can rest the upper beaker in the lid while we wait for the water to finish boiling.

Once the water is boiled, pour 350 – 400 mls (12 – 13 ounces) of water  into the bottom beaker and loosely fit the top beaker onto the bottom beaker with the water pipe placed inside the bottom beaker. We don’t want to seal the two beakers together just yet.

Step Two – Patience and Precision

What we’re trying to achieve in the top beaker is an equilibrium where the bottom beaker has built up enough pressure to keep the water in the top beaker, but the top beaker is at an optimum brewing temperature of 90° – 95°. Any hotter and the water will start to damage certain oils in the coffee; any cooler and we won’t fully extract all the flavours from the coffee.

With that goal in mind we can adjust the alcohol burner flame until the water is releasing wisps of steam from the bottom beaker. At this point we can close the seal by pressing down the top beaker securing the gaskets. This gives the water one route to travel – straight up the water pipe and into the top beaker.

You’ll see a small amount of water stay in the bottom beaker which we’ll need to stay warm enough to keep the water trapped in the top beaker. Play with the heat a little bit here to achieve that pressure equilibrium where the bottom beaker is hot enough (but not too hot!) and the top is hot, but not boiling. There shouldn’t be any turbulence in the top beaker.

Step Three –  Grinding, Timing, Brewing

Now it’s time to brew the coffee, we’ll first need to grind the beans to a medium-coarse grind. Since we’re using a 3 cup syphon, we’ll be grinding 20g of coffee as measured using our kitchen scale. We reached 20g by using a ratio of 1.7g of coffee per fluid ounce of water. Refer to the table at the bottom of this post to reference cup size, coffee amounts and brew times.

As soon as the coffee has been ground, pour it into the top beaker right away. It doesn’t get any fresher! Stir gently 3-4 times, just to ensure all the grounds are well saturated in the water. We highly recommend using a plastic or wooden stir stick do avoid cracking the glass. For the 3 cup syphon we’ll let the coffee brew in the top beaker for 70 – 80 seconds. When the time is up give the coffee one last quick stir then turn off the alcohol burner and let the magic happen.

Step Four – Coffee Bliss

Once the heat is removed the pressure in the bottom beaker begins to drop and so does your freshly brewed coffee. Once all the coffee has reached the bottom beaker, you can remove the top beaker completely and serve – Enjoy!

Fine Tuning

Did you make a perfect cup?

Coffee is both a science and an art. Go ahead and tweak your methodology to get a cup that you enjoy the most. Do you want to extract more flavours? Let your coffee brew a little longer. Are you looking for a stronger tasking cup? Increase the amount of coffee you use. Let us know what ratios and timings are working well for you and what tasting notes you’re getting with different roasts. The syphon is a fun way to have an at-home brewing experience.


Syphon Coffee Ratios
Number of Cups Grams of Coffee Brew Time
3 Cup 20 70 sec.
5 Cup 34 100 sec.
8 Cup 54 180 sec.


Credit: Atria Creative