Syphon is less hassle than cafetiere!!

Having recently visited the London Coffee Festival, I was surprised to be told that Syphon coffee was much less hassle than Cafetiere coffee - lets consider that for a moment!

Both methods are termed 'emersion brewing' as the coffee steeps in the water that will eventually form the brew in your cup. This is as opposed to 'filter brewing' where the water drips through using gravity and 'espresso brewing' where water is pushed through fine coffee under pressure.

To produce Syphon coffee you will need a syphon (no surprises so far!), fresh water (pH Neutral), grinding mill (Skerton), fresh coffee, stirrer, filter (cloth, paper or metal), scales and an 'adjustable heat source'. The cafetiere (or french press if you prefer) method requires a cafetiere, fresh coffee, grinding mill (Skerton), fresh water (pH Neutral), scales and a kettle to heat the water.

The major difference is the temperature of the water - the syphon is very temperature stable throughout the brewing process as the heat can be adjusted to keep a steady temperature - with a cafetiere the temperature starts hot and gradually cools down!  

Scales are critical for both methods as you wouldnt dream of baking without getting the proportions absolutely right - the same applies to coffee brewing - if you want to get consistently good results you need to control the amount of coffee to water and the time over which the coffee is steeped.

Cafetiere coffee could be made as follows (I say could as you may prefer a stronger or weaker drink so might change the proportions):

Pre heat your cafetiere and cup - Weigh out 15g of coffee (or use our Merchants pre-portioned sachet) - Place the cafetiere on the scales and tare them to 0 - Pour around 30ml of 'just off the boil' (96C) water over the coffee and agitate - your scales will acurately measure the 30ml as 30g - After 30 seconds pour another 200ml of 'just off the boil' water gently and evenly over the ground coffee - DO NOT STIR

Leave it to steep for another 3 minutes and 30 seconds after which time the coffee will have formed a 'crust' on top of the water - skim this off before plunging - Once plunged, empty the entire contents into your mug - the longer you leave it in the cafetiere the more it steeps and the more unpleasant it will become

If you are making for more people just multiply up the quantities in proportion - the brew time will be the same - You then have the job of cleaning the cafetiere, but having skimmed the 'crust' there will be less residue to dispose of at the end and your drink won't be filled with coffee particles.

Syphon on the other hand requires that you fill the bottom chamber with 230ml of water before placing the top chamber loosely on top - place the water in the bottom chamber over heat and when it reaches a rolling boil gently seal the top cavity to the bottom.

The seal will pressurize the bottom cavity and displace/force the water into the top chamber via the stem. Once the water is in the top chamber reduce the heat by half and add 15g of freshly ground coffee (or one of our pre-portioned sachets) and agitate to get the coffee wet - after 30 seconds stir in a cross shape (North, South, North, South, East, West, East, West) to break the 'crust' and no more - after 1 minute remove from the heat source and perform a 360 stir to induce the draw down.

After 1 minute and 30 seconds the draw down to the bottom chamber should be complete at which point the top chamber should be removed. However, note that the draw down will be influenced by the grind size as the finer the grind the harder it will be for the water to pass through and therefore the longer it will take and vice versa.

The syphon method is favoured for shorter contact times and as such, given that you can make the coffee in half the time of a cafetiere, it can be seen as being much easier - the coffee from both is good but the cafetiere has more particles as the coffee is not filtered as well as being emersed.

Call me a heathen, but I prefer my cafetiere as you can pour and leave to steep whilst it goes about its business - the syphon is pretty hands on, but a real experience if you have never seen it before - fantastic theatre for sure!


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