Siphon brewing is one part theater, one part delicious, one part alchemy, and one part skill. The heat source has to be carefully attended, and timers must be set. However, what if you could make a cup of siphon-brewed coffee without the stress of managing temperature or time? We are here to tell you about the KitchenAid Siphon Coffee Brewer, a coffee maker that allows you to do just that.
SUMMARY: The KitchenAid Siphon Coffee Brewer
It delivers the theatrical beauty and precision of traditional full immersion vacuum brewing, yet simplified for the home through automated technology.
A Brief History of the Siphon Brewer
Before the siphon coffee maker was invented in the 1830s, coffee was brewed in just a handful of ways. The oldest way was the Ibrik Method–modern day Turkish Coffee–which consisted of boiling coffee in a small pot with a long wooden handle. The Ibrik method began to fall out of favor in Western Europe when the idea that coffee should not be boiled came into vogue in the late 18th century.
Then, the market shifted toward the Biggins Pot, which essentially resembled a pour-over brewing system combined with a large pitcher. However, both the filter material and the grinders of the time left much to be desired. These challenges meant that the water would often run through the grounds too quickly, resulting in under-extraction, or too slowly, resulting in cold coffee.
In a response to this conundrum of bad coffee, the siphon emerged.
Invented in the 1830’s, siphon brewers had the advantage of never allowing boiling water direct contact with the grounds, and the vacuum effect meant that even relatively finely grounds could be filtered quickly. So hot and tasty coffee was no longer a dichotomy for people to choose between. (1)
The most notable [siphon] is Madame Vassieux’s 1841 design. Featuring a decorative “French balloon”, it’s very similar…to [modern siphons].
The first siphon brewers were delicate and the glass used was prone to breaking if left too long over the open flame. To avoid this sort of disastrous outcome the balance siphon was invented. Essentially, as water was forced out of the heating chamber into the brew chamber the balance would shift. Once enough water had exited the heating chamber, the heat source was automatically snuffed out. (2)
These devices continued to develop throughout the 1800s and into the 1900s. The 1900s also saw the proliferation of brewing innovation, such as disposable paper filters (1908), the Moka pot (1933), and instant coffee (1910). (3) All of these newcomers on the scene disrupted and diminished the popularity of the vacuum brewing system.
However, siphon brewing has made a comeback in recent years. Often seen in artisanal cafes, there is no reason you can’t enjoy the flavor and flare of this brew method right in your home.
The KitchenAid Siphon Coffee Siphon Review
The KitchenAid Siphon Brewer merges the beauty and taste of this classic method with modern technological convenience.
The KitchenAid Siphon Coffee Brewer
- Ease of Use
- Brew Capacity
- Build Quality
- Cleaning and Maintenance
- Value for Money
Ease of Use – 5/5
The KitchenAid Siphon Coffee Maker is the most user-friendly siphon brewer on the market. If you’ve ever turned on an electric kettle then you have the skills necessary to make coffee with this device.
The hardest part of the whole process is putting it together. The bottom chamber and the brew chamber connect both magnetically and with a twist, and some users have reported that getting these parts to mate can be tricky. Other than that, the process is as simple as adding water to the bottom, coffee grounds to the top, and switching the unit on.
This coffee maker uses a mesh filter and gives users the option of using a cloth filter as well, so you can choose the one that delivers the taste you’re looking for without worrying about rogue coffee grounds in your final cup.
Brew Capacity – 5/5
This class of brewers ranges in size from single-serving to well over a liter. This unit is on the larger side, offering what KitchenAid calls 8 cups of coffee. Those ‘cups’ are each 5 ounce/140mL pours, for a total capacity of 40 oz/1.1 L.
The minimum capacity is 15 oz/420mL, so this machine will work fine for those times where you’re only brewing for one.
Build Quality – 4/5
The build quality of the KitchenAid Siphon Brewer is generally excellent, as befits a KitchenAid appliance. While many of the competing coffee makers are works of art with exquisite blown-glass, the KitchenAid is built more like a complicated kettle. The model includes lots of novel technology like the built-in heater and magnetic coupling collar, but results in a less aesthetically impressive product.
Stainless steel replaces some components that are typically glass, offering some additional durability. The black metallic accents on the exterior are tastefully applied and give the machine a premium, modern vibe.
We were glad to see KitchenAid include a handle on the upper chamber, so that removing it after brewing is no longer the treacherous task it once was.
Cleaning and Maintenance – 3/5
While the conglomeration of black steel and glass makes for a stylish and durable product, it means that none of the components are dishwasher safe and are therefore a chore to clean.
Glass and stainless steel are each dishwasher safe, but when paired they are rarely capable of being put in the dishwasher.
Additionally, the built-in electronic components of the base mean that the glass carafe cannot be immersed in water. KitchenAid provides an angled cleaning brush, but despite its inclusion cleaning is still a cumbersome process. Though this model is less fragile than some of its competitors, we still recommend that users take care when it comes time to clean their brewer. The good news is that both the mesh and cloth filter options are easy to clean.
Value for Money – 2.5/5
If you are committed to this brewing method but can’t be bothered to handle the timing yourself, then the KitchenAid is a great choice. However, the cost of automation is extremely high. Many of its competitors cost a third as much and some can be used over range-tops, eliminating any need to buy separate heating units. And while the convenience of automation has some value, performing this method manually is not an extremely difficult skill to learn.
Do Not Buy The KitchenAid Siphon If…
The KitchenAid Siphon Brewer is a wonderful coffee maker, easily capable of out-brewing most drip coffee machines, but it is not the ideal tool for everyone!
You want a lot of manual control over your brew – Compared to traditional siphon brewers like the Yama Stovetop Siphon Coffee Brewer, Bodum Pebo (formerly known as Santos), and the Hario Technica, the KitchenAid offers you extremely little control. If you want to adjust the brewing temperature or the immersion time, you’re out of luck. The KitchenAid errs on the hot side which can be an issue for some more lightly roasted beans. too For a more manual option, we recommend trying out the Hario Technica.
You like to brew your coffee and enjoy it slowly throughout the day – The KitchenAid Siphon Brewer has neither an insulated carafe nor a keep-warm feature. This means that once you’ve brewed your coffee it will begin cooling immediately. Unfortunately, in this regard, all of the siphon brewers have the same problem. If you are passionate about this brew method and want to keep your coffee warm throughout the day, we suggest purchasing a thermal carafe like this one.
You want to brew several different types of coffee – While any siphon brewer is sure to add a new element of fun to your caffeine-routine, it is not the best tool for the home barista who likes to change up their brew style. The siphon is limited to its standard brew, unlike coffee makers like the AeroPress or a Moka Pot, which give users the flexibility to adjust and brew a range of different types of coffee. If your taste for java is fickle, you may want to consider a brewer with more range.
If you want the theater and the flavor of making your cup of coffee in a state-of-the-art siphon with the least amount of effort, the KitchenAid Siphon Brewer delivers in spades. While the device requires some work to clean and is a little pricey, it delivers a delicious cup of coffee and is fun to watch it as it brews.
Yes, you can use pre-ground coffee beans. However, just like any other type of coffee, your best results will be had with freshly ground coffee beans. Siphon brewers do a great job expressing the flavors of freshly ground beans, rewarding your effort more than typical drip coffee machines. So go with the freshly ground option–why waste the taste?
When the water boils in the lower chamber, the steam creates pressure which forces the hot water up into the brew chamber. As soon as the heat is turned off the steam cools, creating a partial vacuum in the lower chamber. The water in the upper chamber is then pushed (not pulled) by atmospheric pressure, back into the lower chamber.
Loeff of Berlin is generally credited with inventing the original device in the 1830s.
- Jones, J. (2015, October 9). Syphon: The History & Brewing Guide. Retrieved from https://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2015/10/siphon-the-history-brewing-guide/
- Harris, B. (n.d.). The Historical Development of the Vacuum Coffee Pot. Retrieved from https://baharris.org/coffee/History.htm
- Wikipedia contributors. (2019, October 2). Instant coffee. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:59, October 11, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Instant_coffee&oldid=919284673