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Friday, 16 December 2011

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syphons, like vinyl and Yashicas are back baby. Dad's threatening to dust his off.

Hey, the other day, after agonizing far more than when deciding to buy a new Leica lens, I splurged for a fancy Vario W coffee grinder and Technivorm coffee maker. With it's fine and course adjustments, the grind has 230 variations of fineness and weighs the coffee precisely.

But... nowhere could I find out how to fine tune the grind. Yes, there are a few videos on espresso grinding, and a few photos of grinds, but no way to really know.

About the same with the amount of coffee per cup in the fancy coffeemaker. An email to the dealer, which has lot's of videos online said "grind it like granulated sugar".

Sure would be nice to get some help fine tuning this. Meanwhile I'll make the best cup of coffee I can to drink while reading TOP in the morning.
-Paul

Mike, if you are ever in Detroit you need to atop by Chazzano. They specialize in siphoning. They also roast beans on site. The proprietor is extremely passionate and knowledgeable...a deadly combo. Definately worth a stop. The first time i went there it took about 3 minutes before he was showing me the roasting process and explaing all the different types of beans.

We have a syphon coffee maker and it makes wonderful coffee. Blue mountain beans, freshly ground. That is our mainstay. The syphon is however a bit fiddly and time consuming so the quick fix is the Nespresso machine. My machine was a present from our daughters a few birthdays ago and is used most days. If you don't like the pure stuff they will flog you a milk frother but we rarely use it. For tea, orange pekoe is highly recommended but English breakfast tea is fine to kick start the day if you prefer tea to coffee.

I sold a lens on craigslist (Nikkor 17-55, got 1100 for it) to a guy who has since become a buddy. He took me out for coffee a while ago to a trendy place that makes siphon coffee. It was a great brew, but - yikes - eighteen bucks...

A fascinating read about joe:

http://www.amazon.com/Uncommon-Grounds-History-Coffee-Transformed/dp/046501836X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1324092027&sr=1-1

Maybe just me, but that brew appears very weak on the video. Or is the Canon overexposing? I like my coffee more around Zone I or II.

Arcane, but God, I could really go for a cuppa right about now.

Mike,

I use a siphon at home, and a French press at work. The siphon is a beautiful design, works great - and is not for the clumsy, as the glass portions are, well, glass. It produces a cleaner cup than the French Press, ideal for some of the bright, fruity African beans.

For me, coffee drinking is all about the chase. About a year ago I bought a pound of Rwandan coffee that was by far the best coffee I've ever had. I roasted it myself, using most of my stash to dial in the perfect roast. And when that was done? Rather than mourn the loss of a perfect cup, the chase starts again! At the moment I'm working through a batch from Kenya. Only so-so, meaning it's only a hundred times better than Starbucks.

Oh, and the time commitment for this pleasure? 25 minutes a week to roast (including setup and cleanup), plus the time to grind and brew each cup. Life is good.

Jeff, the coffee looked weak to me, too.

As a European, I will never understand the penchant for weak, flavourless coffee and the siphon method looks like a coffee geek's method for making precisely that.

Give me caffétière coffee or, better yet, a good espresso macchiato from a decent espresso machine any day.

The Zone System for coffee? Brilliant! Make mine a Zone I...

Siphoning is OK, but it's essentially no different from other processes like the French press, except that the coffee is being pulled through the grounds instead of pushed through. Oh, and yes it has that mad scientist appeal.

Rob, you paid $18 for a siphon coffee? I'd say they saw you coming a mile away.

And I will never understand the penchant for weak, washed-out highlights in digital photos and videos....

Mike

I may as well link the the ceramic coffee drippers I mentioned above at Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Hario-Coffee-Dripper-White-Ceramic/dp/B000P4D5F8

These guys have it right: http://www.boingboing.net/2010/01/09/how-to-brew-a-good-c.html

Stove top espresso for me, pref with monsooned Malabar beans, mmmm!

For a Zone I coffee with a cool Zone VI selenium toning foam on it, there is also a very simple setup : turkish coffee, essentially similar to the upper pot of the video.
Of course it's unfiltered, but it hasn't lost its foam and texture, and yes there is a tad of black magic involved to make the ground coffe stay at the bottom of the pot (and a more substantial amount of it in the brewing itself, to make a nice foam without boiling it).

Like Ed, I fail to be convinced that there is a difference between the cafetiere and the syphon method. If someone can give me a scientifically argumented case for the syphon I might be tempted as I like the laboratory look!

My regular hang here in Zurich is http://www.cafe-henrici.ch/. They were offering syphon coffee for a while. It was 6 SFr [which is around $6.50 USD at the moment]. Seeing as how Zurich is, on average, about 2-3x more expensive than the US I found it very amusing that someone paid $18.
To those who think the coffee looks week - it ain't. On top of that it has the cleanest most mellow caffeine buzz that I've ever experienced. The key is using only a single source bean. If any sort of blend was used it really wasn't all that special IMO.
These days they are offering a filtered coffee set which takes about 5-10 minutes to brew. [Its not just about drinking the coffee but about the coffee experience as well.] Same thing applies regarding the choice of bean.

Yes, Zone I for me too!
I grow up with coffee (from my 16 years or so. And You can't beat a fine espresso from someone who knows how to do it.
The home version which i find the best is the "Moka": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moka_pot a staple of italian industrial design.
And a coffee you can drink 100ml of without starting to shake, well it jut isn't coffee :)

Much as I'd like to roast and grind my own beans before brewing them to perfection, I always find myself getting beans from my local coffee house down the street (cheaper than chain stores but their roasted beans are surprisingly good)... and reaching for that Enzo Fiat of coffee brewers, my trusty old French Press.

Like cameras, the best brewing method is the one you actually use. ;)

That video made it seem a whole lot more mad scientist than it needs to be. When our filter coffee brewer broke down at our summer house my parents saved the day and pulled out this funky contraption from the back of a cabinet that probably hadn't been used since the 70's. It was a syphon brewing set and amazed us all. I just checked online and more domestic version is still available, the Bodum Santos Pebo. It does make great coffee just make sure you have a stable stovetop.

Several people have suggested Nespresso so far. Ok, it is a convenient system, but it's also the coffee maker equivalent to the Kodak disc system.
If you want to start exploring coffee, its varieties and subtleties, and differences between different origins, stay away from Nespresso, because there you are locked in a proprietary system and you only get the coffees that they choose to put into those little aluminium capsules. And it's pretty expensive as well.
I'd second the recommendation of getting freshly roasted coffee from a good source, grinding it at home, and then preparing it in a French Press, Aeropress coffee maker, or the good old-fashioned pour-over filter.

Back in the late 60's, my brothers, sisters, and I, used to always be fascinated by our parents using a Cona coffee maker. It used a small meths burner, and didn't require any replaceable filters. All clever stuff; great fun; and my parents liked the coffee too.

(I see they're still available from Amazon.)

On the topic of home roasting, coffee, and geeking out, coffeegeek has a handy guide to roasting at home with a popcorn popper here:

http://coffeegeek.com/guides/popperroasting

On my first visit to America, San Francisco down to Los Angeles,many years ago,I was amazed at what was being served up as 'coffee'. I had always assumed that the coffee would have been very good after the Brouhaha in Boston, but what I was being served was akin to dishwater.Subsequent visits to New York and its environs have proved no different. This is not to say that good coffee is not available in these areas but that as a stranger in town what I was getting in the average coffee shop or restaurant was very poor.

I have tried several roasters and are now using Behmor 1600 Roaster- works great. Go to Sweet Marias web site for all kinds of info on coffee. Coffee roasting and brewing can be just another place to spend all that surplus money. Be careful however because once you become a coffee/ tea snob it is hard to go back to McDonalds coffee or Liptons.

So how does siphon coffee taste in comparison to what you get from a Moka pot? Cafètiere (French press) coffee always tastes a bit muddy to me, but I find the coffee from a Moka pleasant and an acceptable substitute for true espresso.

"Rob, you paid $18 for a siphon coffee? I'd say they saw you coming a mile away."

It's called siphoning one's money.

Interesting - how do you do partial B&W in video without doing it frame by frame?

Nice to see the genuine enthusiasm the guy had for his profession.

Yea, I can see me managing the syphon apparatus first thing in the morning. I usually can only locate the coffee machine becuase it has that little red light on it...

And I agree, Zone II for my brew. My sister-in-law used to reuse her grounds several times and the resulting liquid was the color of light tea. It is so much fun now when she visits to feed her our thick stuff...

When done well you can get a great flavorful coffee out of non-espresso methods. I like hand drip myself. The trick is to get the grind and coffee/water ratio right, and to tune your method so you get enough extraction. It's not complicated but takes a bit of experimentation.

Pardon my cynicism, but I finished my supposed education in Japan, where and when (late 1970s) siphon-brewed coffee was all the rage. Typically for Japan it was largely style over substance, i.e. it looked cool but offered no real control over the brewing process. There are plenty of good ways to make coffee -- espresso machine, hand-poured filter, French press, even cafe de olla -- but as far as I'm concerned, this is not one of them. Percolators looked cool too.

Mike asks 'how do you roast your beans?'. I've home roasted beans for a long time. There are coffee roasters from little forced air roasters to "home sized" drum roasters costing many hundreds of dollars. In many ways the commercial roasters with their giant drum roasters can do a better or more consistent job if you can find one with interesting beans roasted the way you like them.
A good part of the attraction to roasting at home is to be able to try better quality varietal beans not commercially available. That and the ability to roast to the darkness you prefer. $'bux by the way murders beans by over roasting them. Drech.
Most on line green bean suppliers have roasting machines. I think there is one near you in Madison. One of the better sites as far as informative reading about coffees and the hardware to roast and brew it is SweetMarias.com. [no connection].

I can't fathom exactly how the siphon is different from any other method using filtering. It's a neat trick in that it's like a French press with more regular pressure (ergo timing of brewing, etc), but it can't differ much from the humble cone filter.

Speaking of which... Geeks have crossed the final frontier, and intellectualized the drip cone method:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/magazine/13Food-t-000.html

Mike, check out Sweet Maria's if you want to geek out on coffee and roast your own beans. I use a Behmor these days but there are lots of inexpensive roasting options. Best to do it outside because of the smoke. http://www.sweetmarias.com

BTW for good coffee, the grinder is the equivalent of the lens and the machine/siphon/press is the camera body. A cheap lens on a great body still only gives mediocre results. Same with a cheap grinder and a fancy maker.

A vote here for Chemex. I've been using the same Chemex coffee maker for close to 40 years and still love it. The vacuum brewers have tempted me several times, but I've never taken the leap. After seeing the video, it looks like a lot of work. But still...

Mike, if you're looking for a truly great cup of coffee at home, I would recommend pour-over. It's relatively quick and inexpensive, but amazingly good.

The first thing you need is a good grinder, and the Hario Skerton does the trick with high quality burrs. And you'll never need to worry about the electronics breaking down!

Then you just need a filter holder and a filter. I like the Cilio No. 2 holder, and often use it with a hemp cloth reusable No 2 filter. I don't think those specialized kettles are necessary.

The nice thing about pour-over is that you get a cleaner, sweeter coffee than is possible with French Press. You'll be able to taste flavors that go all the way back to the coffee cherry, and would have been lost in a French Press extraction.

Whatever you do, have fun. Don't let the truly hardcore coffee geeks tell you it's impossible to get a good cup of coffee without buying a $700 grinder or growing your own beans or whatever. :)

Mike,

Time to visit coffeegeek.com. I've been roasting beans for a few years and have all sorts of coffee makers from siphon to espresso. Check out the Aerobee Aeropress (Amazon sells it); best 25 bucks you'll spend on a coffee maker.

And home roasting? It's fun, kind of geeky, and the beans are so cheap that the roaster pays for itself rather quickly. There's a roasting section in the coffeegeeks forums that's a great start.

Roger

Ed,

No the guy who bought my lens paid for the coffee. When it's my turn to reciprocate, we're going to Starbucks.

I wonder? If you used a french press and poured the brew through a cone filter, wouldn't you have the same result as a syphon? Only it would be a lot less fuss and expense. Think I'll try it.

Siphon coffee = view camera with sheet film: Aeropress = Fuji X-10. Single cup of coffee = 8 x 10 print. It's the same immersion extraction and filtering.

Mike,

I use a Gene Cafe air roaster. Recommended by the good folks at Bull Run Roasting in Minneapolis. They do wholesale stuff, but there was a brief period when they were selling to the public. I figured if it was good enough for home use by one of the roasters, it was good enough for me!

Julian, I have an abiding dislike for weak coffee. The siphon is perfectly capable of making a very strong cup - but it has a clarity that is totally missing from a French Press cup, which can taste a bit muddy by comparison. Of course, YMMV. And I do enjoy a good cup of Espresso (just finished one, in fact). There, by the way, is where you need a very high quality grinder - a uniform grind is essential to good espresso.

Ed, I think one advantage of the siphon (besides the mad scientist appeal) is the temperature control. People have a tendency to pour boiling water into their French Press, which ruins the flavor.

Syphon brewing coffe pots were very frequent in french families before the electric pot thing ! First design was german but the first patent was held by a french woman (quite unusual in 1825)!

While the resulting brew doesn't seems as black as in the expresso system (steam), the ideal temperature of the syphon system (mostly Cona around here), under boiling point, brings out much more caffeine as the acidic light flavors...

It is slow... But the results are worth it, it's the exact opposite of the expresso, in time, as in flavor (for the same blend), it's the coffee counterpart of the tea ceremony !

The big drawback is in cleaning those big pyrex tulips that breaks easily !!!

As any fule kno, good coffee is made either in an espresso machine or in what is apparantly called a "moka pot" in English. Where do you lot come up with such names?
Cezve is also acceptable, but only in countries that were once part of the Ottoman empire.

Sediment in a french press...
What is important with a french press (and most coffee brewing) is that the grounds are consistent sizes. If the coffee is ground correctly, there is no sediment.

The key to good press-pot coffee is the size of the grind — presses with wire mesh need big chunky grounds, and you won't really get sediment if there are no tiny bits to begin with. Not only is the quality of the grinder important, but the quality of the water you use is also critical, sometimes more than the beans you use.

I'm a convert to the Italian "caffettiere espresso". I bought a Giannina and it's so well made it will last at least a lifetime.

I've used "french press" (Bodum) for years but since the caffettiere, it's been sitting on a shelf.

Lately, there's been a small revolution in the coffee world with the advent of the capsule coffee makers. I have the Nespresso which we use when we have guests. All of a sudden you find out that your coffee isn't compatible with other machines. (The capsule that is.) Funny world.

But breakfast without the Giannina would'nt be breakfast.

I've been 'geeking' out on coffee for years...but in the end, I am too lazy for most processes, whether siphon or slow pour...the best, cleanest, easiest (besides going to Firenze....) is the Aeropress. From the time I conceive of a cup in my mind, to the time I'm drinking it, including grinding and cleaning up is 4 minutes total...

Mike,
You should Google 'balancing syphon' coffee makers if you really want to blow your mind with mad scientist steampunk coffee making methods!

Chris

Hah - I hadn't seen your comment at the time I wrote my post, but I'm glad it worked as a reply!

There definitely are differences between the various methods of brewing - obviously there's a big difference between paper drip and espresso, but laterally there are differences as well. It's a little bit like learning to tell the differences between different B&W emulsions or developers, or between different 35mm lenses - the average layperson probably won't be able to tell the difference but with some careful coaching I think she'd be able to.

For example, as a matter of physics, people tend to use coarser grinds for French Press. A coarse grind leads to weaker extraction, since each coffee particle is relatively large and there's less overall total surface area. However, since there's no paper in a FP, coffee oils are not absorbed, so you get a trade-off. (You'll notice that a freshly brewed pot of coffee made in a FP will have an oily sheen on top in the right light.) Paper absorbs coffee oils, which changes the flavor profile.

Without going further, there are a whole host of variables in the brewing process that can influence the resulting flavor of the coffee. And that's not to mention the effects that (1) roast level, (2) grind level [alluded to above], (3) bean origin and (4) bean blending can have...

And in the end, you just have to find what brewing process works best for you. You might not require haute cuisine level coffee every morning if all you want to do is just wake up...

The easiest-to-use device for making top quality coffee from a fresh grind is the AeroPress. (Happy user for several years, no commercial connection.)

Meh. Fetish, I say!

And if you like your coffee zoned, a nice cup of Turkish coffee with cardamom and a bit of lemon zest on top is just the thing. The Dmax of coffee at about a zone 0.

Part of my coffee dream is to get a manual espresso maker & manual grinder. Home roasted, manually ground, manually pulled espresso. At that point you've got a lot invested in that cup of coffee. Almost like a Japanese tea ceremony.

If you're getting sediment through your French press you need to adjust your grinder for a littler heavy grind. With a good grinder you should be able to go from a heavy grind to almost dust. But stay away from the fine end for a French press. I'm retired and have been using a French press for many years. You need to find that "goldilocks" grind for the screen in your press. Best of luck.

Mike: It's not so much that the French Press lets sediment through as it releases a great deal of sediment into the resulting cup via plunging the plunger. Here is an artful video that demonstrates how to use a French Press that results in a much cleaner cup, made by a former World Barista Champion (Yes, there is such a thing, no, I've never made more than a halfhearted attempt at trying to win it) http://www.jimseven.com/2008/11/13/french-press-technique/

In any event, any of the manual coffee techniques mentioned here so far is capable of producing a great cup of coffee, with the caveat that producing that great cup of coffee requires a good deal of practice and study. One nice way to begin is with Counter Culture's starter kit. Every piece of that kit is very well chosen, and they source and roast some excellent coffee to boot.

Oh, and you absolutely need a decent burr grinder at home. That's really the one requirement. All this talk of brew technique is fun and everything, but really, it's the grinder that makes your coffee. Photography analogy: All this talk of camera bodies is fun and everything, but really it's your lens that makes the photograph.

(Also, I second Sweet Maria's on the home roasting)

@Paul, the only way to find the right grind size is by trial and error. Once, I dialed in a shop's Fetco (the commercial brewer behind the counter) for the first time, and each trial was half a gallon of brewed coffee! My advice is, if the coffee tastes hollow and watery, grind finer, if it tastes bitter or feels overly dry (the way dry wine does), grind coarser. For a technivorum, granulated sugar is probably a little too fine. If you're still lost for a starting point, ask your local coffeeshop to grind you a small sample so you can try to match it.

Well, Mike, if you ever do visit me in Ann Arbor I will take you to Comet Coffee in the Nickel's Aracade, where you can try your choice of coffee preparation methods: pour over, french press, or siphon, from a list of carefully selected perfectly roasted and ground beans from around the world prepared by tattooed very skinny people in very skinny jeans . That way you can do a side by side taste test on the same coffee. It is a coffee fetishist's nirvana.

Or you can take a coffee roasting class at Zingerman's Coffee-- part of the diverse ecosystem of businesses spawned by Zingerman's Deli--the center of the universe for people who love food.

Come on by!

I'm mostly an black tea drinker, but my daughter and her friends lean to coffee brewed with a French press. This news from the Harvard School of Public Health causes me a little concern: "Coffee contains a substance called cafestol that is a potent stimulator of LDL cholesterol levels. Cafestol is found in the oily fraction of coffee, and when you brew coffee with a paper filter, the cafestol gets left behind in the filter. Other methods of coffee preparation, such as the boiled coffee common in Scandinavian countries, French press coffee, or Turkish coffee, are much higher in cafestol. So for people who have high cholesterol levels or who want to prevent having high cholesterol levels, it is better to choose paper filtered coffee or instant coffee, since they have much lower levels of cafestol than boiled or French press coffee."

"I wonder? If you used a french press and poured the brew through a cone filter, wouldn't you have the same result as a syphon?"

GaryO,
That's what I used to do when I lived with friends who made the morning coffee with a French press. I really don't like solids in my coffee.

Mike

"The nice thing about pour-over is that you get a cleaner, sweeter coffee than is possible with French Press. You'll be able to taste flavors that go all the way back to the coffee cherry, and would have been lost in a French Press extraction. Whatever you do, have fun."

Ben,
I think I might have shown a glimmer of connoisseurship without knowing it. For years I had a Melitta #4 filter holder with a single small hole in the bottom of it, which was eventually stolen when my car was broken into. When I tried to replace it, I found it wasn't made any more. For years I was dissatisfied with its replacement. Then, when the internet got going in the '90s, I searched for my original one on eBay and eventually found one, brand new, that had been sitting in someone's closet for years. So just now I watched Sweet Marias' pourover tutorial part 3...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5k3kN6Joe74

...and it turns out that a plain filter holder with a single small hole in the bottom of it--just like mine--beat out all the fancier kinds in a test. Boo yeah.

Mike

"for good coffee, the grinder is the equivalent of the lens and the machine/siphon/press is the camera body. A cheap lens on a great body still only gives mediocre results. Same with a cheap grinder and a fancy maker."

Clyde,
I hope you're right! I just bought a very nice grinder (not crazy expensive, but better than anything else I've ever owned by many times over) for myself for Christmas.

Mike

au sujet to Jon's experience with Rwandan, I have had Rwanadan, flame roasted here in Rochester by Java Joe. Probably the best coffee I have ever had (though I admit my drip method probably didn't do it justice,) though Joe's Sulawesi is, while different, extremely satisfying.

I love coffee.

Oh, and @ Jim Henry ... the first Sulawesi I had from Joe had been roasted 10 minutes previously on-site. Took it home and had some. Yowza.

I sometimes wonder if some people take life just a teensy weensy bit TOO seriously....

the bigger the batch of coffee being roasted (In a commercial operation) the easier it is for the roaster to control the temperature, therefore, why not find a roaster who roasts to your style and let him do his thing.
IMO it is easier to make a good wine out of a poor vintage than it is to blend and roast beans perfectly. Tim

sheesh!! I just googled a French Press. No wonder you lot think a syphon is the way to go.
If you are serious about your coffee what about a Bezzara flat plate grinder and something like an Isomac Millenium single group espresso machine
Grind only as you require your coffee, setting your grind to give you 25 Mls in 30 secs and clean your machine internally at least twice a week
Then you can enjoy the ultimate black; a ristretto

Shouldn't this conversation include mention using Fair Trade Coffee?

Congrats?
Al the charm of a coffee has been lost watching this video.

It is far too complicated for a regular Portuguese Coffe machine [alas, that is the way it is called in spain a Syphon Coffee Machine].

Sorry, too geeky for me and forgeting that, in this very case, the result is more important than the process.

All this is very cool, but NOBODY has mentioned that, for a good coffee, you need three good steps, regardles of the system:

-Keep the coffee refrigerated, specially ground coffee which is so usual in Spain, Italy and Portugal. Funnyly enough, spanish coffee tends to be much stronger than italian coffee, which tends to be the sweetest of the three.

-use the water you like, as oppossed to the best water there is.

-Have a good moment.
-Remember that coffee is just an infusion. Use the method you like more.


For the "syphoneers", you can buy all the needed equipment really close to you. Ask your local highschool chemistry teacher where to get simple lab equipment. That´s what we did when I was in Russia.

I don't know about "coffee", i. e. american or german coffee, but as far as one is concerned with coffee, i. e. italian coffee, just try a moka:

http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moka

Don't expect to produce a good coffee the first time you use a moka. It has to be used at least a dozen times, before giving a good coffee. By the way, you need a good coffee powder for moka, for instance Illy.
Then, if you aren't yet happy, maybe you are ready for an espresso machine.


All this high end coffee talk sent me downstairs to dust off my old Bunn chassis retrofitted with a Zone VI variable brew head. This along with my venerable Gravity Works bean washer and Arkay belt driven roaster should help me stop abusing my taste buds with a daily mug of Folgers instant in the microwave.
Seriously, the siphon thingie looks kind of cool.

Re sediment with a french press vs no sediment with a siphon: why not filter the coffee coming out of the french press. The siphon coffee is filtered ...

Coffee - great for developing film in but there's no way I'm drinking that stuff!

Wow! Don´t go building your own dark room and purchasing a view camera if all you want is an upgrade from your point 'n shoot digicam. If all your coffee comes in a white paper cup right now, just forget about roasting your own - it is too big an upgrade.

The first thing you need to do is create a habit of brewing your own coffee at home, every day. The simplest method with the least amount of complexity will work. Pouring hot water into a paper filter directly over the very mug you will be drinking from is the simplest method I know. Do this instead of the "hot plate" machine because since it is "more manual" it will give you greater control and thus has more learning potential.

Before you start geeking out on exotic blends and grinding apparatus, you have to make simpler decisions such as:
- Do I like thick black syrup in a tiny cup expresso style or brown hot water in a large mug American style (this can be done via paper filter btw, you don´t need an expresso machine).
- Milk or cream or nothing.
- Should I wimp out and get a Nespresso?

Forget about grinding your own beans (let alone roasting) until you have brewed your own coffee every day for a year. Just buy to or three varieties of pre roasted, pre ground coffee at the local supermarket and acquire a favorite "default", easy to acquire blend. Make sure you always have enough in the house, like toilet paper.

After you acquire the habit, only then should you embark on crazy roasting experiments. If you are seriously considering buying a coffee roasting apparatus, then you already know you are condemned to those white paper cups forever.

On the Syphon brew:

It makes cleaner coffee that is also more oily, compared to a paper filter. There is no point unless you like your coffee very strong.

Syphons are also very fragile and break all the time. Don´t bother unless you know you can be anal about handling and care.

Don´t bother with stainless steel Syphons (rare, but they do exist). You never know if they are properly clean inside or not.

"Forget about grinding your own beans (let alone roasting) until you have brewed your own coffee every day for a year."

beuler,
I've been brewing my own coffee every day for 30 years. Is that enough? [g]

Mike

I just saw this photostream of Simon Caplan on Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/simoncaplan/) who recently took some images in a roasting company in Bristol, UK. Beautiful images!

He says in the video right at the beginning why it's different from other methods, as it combines the 'total immersion' of French Press/AeroPress/other methods, bringing a fuller 'body', with the finer filtration of other filter methods which produces a 'crisp clean cup [of coffee...]'. Calling a beverage a 'cup' really irritates me, but I guess the professional options are limited.

As for the science of it, look at it this way: if you were doing an experiment and you needed a standard coffee solution more than once, and the first time you used cone filtered coffee but the second time syphoned coffee, would your science teacher be happy with you or not? There is certain to be variation if the method is different, the question is really whether that variation is noticeable (to those who enjoy coffee and claim to tell the difference) in a double blind study. I don't know the answer to that though, and I haven't tried syphoned coffee.

There are some other factors of this method to consider:

1) I am not sure but I have heard/read that the syphon effect begins to work at an ideal temperature, I guess around 85 Celsius. With machines and pour over methods there is more scope for scalding the coffee.

2) Gravity may affect (positively or negatively?) how much sediment ends up in the brew. I've heard it's very clean anyway.

3) consistency: with cone filter coffee the strength of the cup can vary quite a bit depending on how you pour the water through it, even at one water:grounds ratio.

It's worth noting that with both AeroPress and syphon flasks that there is not just one type of filter. For my AeroPress I use the metal 0.8 mm COAVA Disk, which can also be retrofitted to a syphon, and I love the extra body you get which would otherwise be stolen by the paper filter that comes with it. Also, syphons traditionally use a washable cloth filter, though the modern Hario does not come with one. There was also some suggestion of using a nylon mesh for the AeroPress, but I've forgotten where I read that and I haven't tried it, satisfied as I am with the COAVA Disk.

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