Yama Coffee Siphon Review 2020
So, you’re looking into getting a siphon brewer? I can’t say that I blame you – siphon coffee has flavor that is hard to match and offers an unparalleled show while you’re making it.
But, can you get a siphon brewer on a budget? The Yama 8-cup stovetop siphon brewer’s price-tag suggests that you might!
SUMMARY: Yama Glass Stovetop Coffee Siphon
The coffee brewed in this maker has great body, without the sediment you get in a French press.
– Sweet Maria’s Coffee
What is Siphon Coffee?
A Scientific Understanding
We can learn about how siphon brewers work by examining the name. Siphon comes from the Greek word σίφων, which means pipe or tube. (1) Today, the word is used to describe the act of fluid transfer driven by atmospheric pressure.
While sometimes spelled syphon, there is no reason etymologically to switch the ‘i’ for a ‘y’ as the original Greek used an iota and not an upsilon.
Despite looking completely different, drip coffee makers operate on similar principles as siphon coffee makers.
Drip machines do not use any pumps, but have a gravity fed pipe that is mated to a heater. As the water in the pipe boils, it expands, traveling up the pipe towards the coffee grounds; a one-way check valve prevents the water from returning to the reservoir. (2)
The first half of siphon brewing relies on the exact same principle: as the water in the lower chamber boils, vapor pressure pushes the hot water into the top chamber.
The second half of the brewing process is where the term ‘siphon’ or ‘vacuum’ brewing applies. As the steam in the lower chamber cools, it creates a partial vacuum. Atmospheric pressure (in addition to gravity and the water’s cohesion to itself) then pushes the liquid in the top chamber back into the lower chamber.
But how does it taste?
Siphon coffee makers are full immersion brewers. This is different than pour-over, drip, and espresso, where the coffee grounds are exposed to the hot water incrementally. Other full immersion methods include French press, AeroPress, and cupping.
Siphon brewing results in a clean, full bodied brew and is great for highlighting the flavor of lighter varietals. (3)
While some full immersion methods, like AeroPress, filter the coffee the coffee through a paper media, siphon brewers rely on metal, cloth, plastic, or even glass filters. This means that more of the coffee’s oils make it into your glass.
The Yama Glass 8-Cup Stovetop Coffee Siphon Review
Now that you understand the science behind the Yama Glass Coffee Siphon and siphon coffee brewers in general, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
The Yama Glass 8-Cup Stovetop Siphon
- Ease of Use
- Brew Capacity
- Build Quality
- Cleaning and Maintenance
- Value for Money
Ease of Use – 3.5/5
The Yama Glass 8-cup stovetop coffee siphon has some design elements that make it easier to use than its competition, and others that fall short.
Unlike the Hario Technica, the Yama does not require an alcohol burner or butane burner. Instead, the device can be used on most stovetops.
The Yama will work on gas and electric ranges. Induction ranges, however, heat using magnetism and will not work with glass vessels.
The handle of the Yama siphon coffee brewer is angled down, meaning that you must use care when reaching for the handle while the coffee brewer is over an active heat source lest you burn yourself.
The manufacturer’s instructions say never to place the unit over high heat, otherwise the unit may be damaged. This warning should be taken seriously – some users have reported their siphons cracking or exploding while being heated.
Brew Capacity – 4/5
The Yama Glass calls itself an 8-cup unit. However, not all cups are created equal, and Yama Glass assumes that your cups are a dainty 4 oz/113mL pour. That means the total capacity is 32oz/.9L. The lowest indicated amount on the brewer is 5 cups (Yama cups, so 20 oz / .56L) and is probably the least amount of liquid you should brew with.
The Yama is probably best suited for households with 2 or fewer coffee drinkers. More than that and you’ll have to brew multiple cups in order for everyone to have a decent serving.
If that seems like too much coffee (although I’m not sure I believe there is such a thing), Yama makes a 5-cup model as well.
Build Quality – 4/5
Yama Glass, based out of Taiwan, was founded in 1978 and specializes in borosilicate glass. (4) Borosilicate is the perfect material for siphon brewers—it is crystal clear so you can watch the magic happen, and has a low coefficient of thermal expansion.
While some users have reported that they feel that the thinness of the Yama coffee brewer’s glass is an indicator of cheapness – it is actually a hallmark of borosilicate glass. Borosilicate glass is lighter and stronger than traditional soda-lime glass. (5)
If you are concerned about durability, other siphon brewers like the Bodum Pebo and Hario Technica are a bit more robust. All the same, when it comes to glass brewers, you still want to take care to avoid bumps and drops.
The build and the glass of this brewer generally make for easy brewing, though we were slightly peeved with the placement of the handle. Given that this siphon is meant to be used over the stove, users will have to take care not to burn themselves when grabbing the handle.
Cleaning and Maintenance – 3.5/5
Vacuum coffee makers tend to be slightly awkward to clean and this one is no exception. Tossing the grounds out can be a hassle, and combination of small openings and fragile materials mean you’ll have to take care while cleaning.
Pro-tip: Tired of coffee grounds getting everywhere while cleaning? Rinse into a mesh sieve and then dump the sieve directly into the trash!
The Yama’s cloth filter also needs to be cleaned after each use. Run warm water over it to be sure that no lingering grounds are caught in the fibers and you’re good to go.
Some sources say to store the filter in a jar of water in the refrigerator, arguing that preventing it from drying out is the key to longevity. Other people say they get the best results from allowing the filter to air dry after cleaning it.
Value for Money – 4.5/5
The Yama 8-cup stovetop siphon is made from quality materials and comes at a price that won’t break the bank. This is a great choice if you are interested in trying siphon brewing but don’t want to invest in an alcohol or butane burner.
Just keep in mind that the cloth filters must be replaced every few months. They aren’t expensive, but they do represent an ongoing cost.
Do not Buy If…
You have an induction stovetop burner – Being made of glass, the Yama will not work on top of induction burners. Look instead at countertop siphon brewers like the Hario Technica which comes with an alcohol burner. We reviewed this vacuum/siphon coffee brewer right here.
You want the easiest siphon brewing experience – Generally, siphon brewing is a process that requires attention and care. If all you want to do is add water and flick a switch this is not the right brewer for you. The electric KitchenAid Siphon Brewer is a better fit for people who want the theater of siphon brewing without the work. Read our KitchenAid Siphon Coffee Brewer review.
You’re looking for a cheaper option – The Yama Glass Siphon is relatively affordable. But if you’re looking for a cheaper siphon coffee brewer, you might like the Bodum PEBO Vacuum Coffee Maker.
The Yama Glass Coffee Siphon is a great entry level model. Its reasonably priced well-sized for small households. Is it the greatest coffee siphon ever built? Well, no.
But, it is certainly an excellent option for someone who is interested in dipping their toes into the world of siphon brewing. Just enough coffee to get your day moving, a good quality structure and filter, and a price tag that doesn’t make your stomach drop, what is not to love?
Still want to know more about siphon brewers? Check out our article discussing the ups and downs of this method and our top 5 brewers!
Yes, you can replace the included filter with a variety of alternatives. There are stainless steel mesh sieves, paper filters, and even glass filter rods called Corey rods.
Yes, glass filter rods are safe to use. Glass filter rods have been used safely with siphon brewers for decades. Some users have reported that glass filter rods increase the risk of your siphon imploding under vacuum pressures, but the most pressing concern is that your brew may stall if there are too many fines in your ground coffee. While the filter may certainly contribute to this issue, having too many fines clogging your brew is actually probably a result of a poor quality grinder. Good burr grinders produce even, consistent coffee particles that brew clean coffee rather than a silty coffee suspension. Do you need a new burr grinder? Hop over to our comprehensive guides for manual and electric burr grinders to find the one for you.
Technically it is possible to heat the Yama stovetop siphons over an alcohol or butane burner. However, most countertop siphons include stands that hold them over the burner, and this unit does not have provisions for such a stand. If you are interested in using an alcohol or butane burner, we recommend that you consider the Hario Technica instead.
- Siphon. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/siphon
- Brain, M., & Toothman, J. (2006, November 29). How Coffee Makers Work. Retrieved from https://home.howstuffworks.com/coffee-maker.htm
- Vacuum. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.sweetmarias.com/brewing/brewers/vacuum.html
- About. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://yamaglass.com/about
- Understanding Glass – Types of Glass and Glass Fabrication Processes. (n.d.). Retrieved From https://www.thomasnet.com/articles/plant-facility-equipment/types-of-glass/