I enjoy a coffee, espresso, or latte every morning, and I typically get a pour-over when I go out for coffee at a popular local cafe here in Austin. But this particular day was different: I decided to order something from that gold-rimmed contraption in the photo above that looks like a prop from a Tim Burton movie. What is that? How does it work? And is it really worth all the hubbub?
The so-called contraption is a siphon coffee filter. If you're unfamiliar, like I was, a siphon coffee filter works like so, from the words of Executive Editor Faith Durand:
The vacuum pot is a pleasure to watch - it makes a showman's cup of coffee! It works on simple scientific principles that look like magic when in action. Water sits in a bottom container, with grounds in a top container. There is a siphon tube and filter between the top and bottom containers. As the water heats the vapor it creates forces it to rise up through the tube into the top chamber. The water mixes with the coffee grounds and extracts their flavor. It just so happens that the temperature at which enough water becomes vapor is the same temperature that makes for maximum and perfect coffee extraction.
Then the heat source is removed, and as the water and vapor cool, gravity sucks them both back down into the lower chamber. The grounds up top are completely sucked dry and all of your coffee is in the bottom chamber.
This particular brew I had was a Yirgacheffe. The barista preparing my particular cup described it as clean brew that's delicate with floral notes. This would be a great candidate for brewing with the siphon method, because it too was delicate with the coffee and would allow the flavors of the grind to really bloom.
After my first sip, I connected with everything she had mentioned. There was no bitterness, but just a clean finish that finished distinctly with the taste of blueberries and flower petals.
If you have some free time, and some extra change, order one next time you're out and get ready for an experience.
(Images: Chris Perez)