Essentially unchanged since they were invented in the early 1800s, siphon brewers make a delicious cup of coffee with the drama and flare of a Shakespeare production. Countertop models like the Hario Technica let you take that show out of the kitchen and prepare your coffee anywhere you want. But, the portability comes with greater complexity – read on to make sure the Hario Technica is the right fit for you!
SUMMARY: The Hario Technica Coffee Siphon Review
If you are the type of person who has already invested in a quality digital scale, water filtration system, and coffee grinder, then this brewing system is certain to give you a new and valuable experience.
Countertop Siphon Heating Methods
For most coffee brewing methods, the necessary step of heating the water is rarely given much thought. Siphon coffee is unique in its integration of a multitude of heat source options, each with their own nuances.
When choosing your preferred method, note that the primary differences between the options are ease of use and cost, not coffee flavor or quality.
Alcohol has been used to heat coffee since at least the early 1800s, and quite possibly much longer. In his 1813 essay on coffee, American-born English scientist Sir Benjamin Thompson praised the convenience and cheapness of “spirits of wine” as fuel for heating coffee. (1) Today we know ‘spirits of wine’ as ethanol, ethyl alcohol, or grain alcohol and it still makes a fine, albeit expensive, fuel source.
A cheaper option is to use denatured alcohol, also known as methylated spirits, instead. Denatured alcohol is ethanol that has had methanol or other substances added to it to make it unfit for consumption and is far cheaper than alcohol marketed (and taxed!) for drinking. (2) Both ethanol and denatured alcohol produce little to no smell or soot. (3)
Avoid using isopropyl alcohol. It produces a sooty, malodorous flame that is less hot than denatured alcohol.
Alcohol burners are inexpensive, but they come with the downside of limited-to-no adjustability. Once you light the burner the only way to lower the heat is to extinguish the flame or move the siphon off it.
Additionally, alcohol burners take a long time to boil water. While it is always a good idea to start with preheated water, it is almost essential when working with alcohol as your fuel source.
Operating on principles similar to cigar lighters and blow torches, butane burners use compressed butane gas as their fuel source. They are easy to use and unlike alcohol burners have adjustable temperature control.
The downside is that they cost more upfront and butane is less readily available than denatured alcohol. Generally, stores that sell camping gear will carry butane refills.
Halogen Lamp Heaters
The most expensive of the countertop heating methods, halogen lamps use special light bulbs to heat your siphon.
Like butane burners, halogen lamp heaters are temperature adjustable. Though the upfront cost is certainly a downside of this option, they are probably the most aesthetically intriguing option, so if you are looking for a bit more drama, this may be the heat source for you.
The Hario Technica Glass Coffee Siphon Review
The Hario Technica is probably the most well-known and well-loved vacuum coffee maker (AKA coffee siphon) on the market today, and for good reason. This vacuum brewer combines excellent performance with a beautiful standalone design for delicious and stylish coffee.
The Hario Technica Coffee Siphon
- Ease of Use
- Brew Capacity
- Build Quality
- Cleaning and Maintenance
- Value for Money
Ease of Use – 2.5/5
The Hario Technica harkens back to the original siphon brewers of the 1800s. This makes it a beautiful machine, easily capable of sitting proudly on your countertop to serve as a conversation piece. However, it merges the difficulties inherent to siphon brewing with the difficulties of technology from a bygone era.
The alcohol burner must be carefully filled up, although try to avoid overfilling it. Alcohol can discolor certain wood finishes such as shellac.
If the alcohol is filled in too much… [it] will expand and overflow…only pour in enough… to fill it to the position of the lamp holder.
Some users have mentioned that the stand gets hot with use, which isn’t ideal as the stand doubles as the handle for the coffee carafe.
Brew Capacity – 4/5
Every manufacturer seems to use their own standard for cup size, and Hario has chosen 120mL/4oz. The Hario Technica comes in 3 sizes: 2-cup, 3-cup, and 5-cup. Though it is among the smallest brewers on the market, the limited capacity can be an advantage. Generally, siphon brewers perform best when they are near their maximum capacity.
The Hario Technica is just about perfect for one or two people – just make sure to buy the size that fits your intended use as making multiple batches is a time-consuming process.
Build Quality – 5/5
Hario has been making heat-resistant borosilicate glass for almost a hundred years. Initially, they exclusively produced laboratory equipment but in 1964 began producing household items. What was the first household product you ask? The coffee siphon. (4)
Like all Hario borosilicate glass, the Technica is manufactured in Japan and is extremely well made.
The stand and filter holder are both stainless steel and are built to last.
Cleaning and Maintenance – 3/5
The Hario Technica is a bit of a challenge to keep clean. The cloth filter requires special care, with Hario recommending that you store it soaked in water in the refrigerator. (5)
Depending on your fuel source, you may experience carbon buildup on the bottom of the heating carafe. While this doesn’t negatively impact the coffee makers brewing ability, many people dislike the appearance and removing soot is a labor-heavy process.
If your siphon is getting sooty quickly, you may want to confirm you are using ethanol or denatured alcohol instead of isopropyl alcohol.
Value for Money – 3/5
The Hario Technica is a beautiful mingling of art and history that makes incredible coffee. The Hario isn’t terribly expensive, but it isn’t cheap either. The Bodum Pebo Vacuum Coffee Maker, for instance, is larger and less expensive, perhaps a better bang for your buck unless you are a Hario loyalist. That being said, you really can’t beat the build and performance of the Hario Siphon.
Do Not Buy the Hario Technica If…
You need a speedy brewer – If you want a coffee maker than can quickly and easily churn out a pot of coffee this is not the right choice. Standalone brewers, regardless of the type of heat source they use, generally heat the water at a slower rate than stovetop brewers. Replacing the alcohol burner with a butane burner will offset much of this disadvantage, but at an additional cost. If you are looking for a more time-effective vacuum coffee maker, try the Yama Siphon Coffee Maker. We also reviewed this item here.
You want something that’s easier to use – While the Hario Technica is a fantastic siphon brewer for the mad scientist in all of us, we understand if you want a less hands-on coffee maker. If you are looking to stay in the vacuum-brewer family, we suggest the KitchenAid Siphon, which uses an electric heating system rather than a stovetop or any of the external burners we discussed here.
You want a more old-school aesthetic – We love the sleek, modern look of the Hario Technica, but you may be interested in something with a bit more of a vintage touch. Check out the NISPIRA Belgian Balance Siphon, which has a wooden base and a gold and chrome body on glass brewing chambers. While this design is not exactly the same design of the original coffee siphons, it does have a certain historical glamour factor that you are sure to love.
The Hario Technica delivers delicious coffee with all the theater and flare that we love about the vacuum brew method. Made up of high-quality Hario glass and stainless steel fittings, this is a durable and well-made siphon that will brew the coffee you love for quite some time, and at quite a good price. It is, as far as we are concerned, the best siphon coffee maker on the market.
Yes, you can use the Hario Technica over a gas stove. Hario recommends you use a low flame and take care not to overheat the stand and any part of the glass except the base.
You can buy fuel for the alcohol burner at most hardware stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, and supermarkets.
In hardware stores you’ll find ethanol or denatured alcohol in the paint section, while in stores like Walmart and Target will carry it in the camping supply section.
Most alcohol labeled “rubbing alcohol” is isopropyl alcohol and should be avoided.
You may be able to buy replacement parts for the Hario Technica. Hario, unlike many other siphon manufacturers, sells each component of their siphons separately. However, their spare parts catalogue is only available through their Japanese website and it is not entirely clear if they ship internationally.
- Thompson, B. (1813). Extracts from an Essay, No. 18, on the Excellent Qualities of Coffee, and the Art of Making it in the Highest Perfection. The Belfast Monthly Magazine, 10(59), 484. doi:10.2307/30074978 Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/30074978?seq=8#metadata_info_tab_contents
- Helmenstine, A. M. (2018, March 23). What Is Denatured Alcohol? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-denatured-alcohol-p2-603999
- Kylene. (2019, October 9). Best Alcohol Cooking Fuels for Campers and Preppers. Retrieved from https://theprovidentprepper.org/best-alcohol-cooking-fuels-for-campers-and-preppers/
- About Us (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.hario.jp/about_us.html
- Hario Co., LTD. (2019). Hario Coffee Siphon. Tokyo, Japan: Author. Retrieved From https://www.hario.jp/qa/DPW_en.pdf