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    Whether you know them as vacuum, vac pot, siphon or syphon coffee makers, this form of preparing your caffeine kick essentially involves combining vapour force and two separate chambers to make your coffee.

    While it sounds like a unique (and pretty hipster) way to make a brew, it is actually one of the oldest methods in the world. Invented in Berlin in the 1830’s, it is still widely used universally and is going through a bit of a revival popularity-wise.

    They look far too exotic to use, but actually are very effective at their job. There are various varieties, so if you’re looking into getting one, we have rounded up the best vacuum coffee makers available to help you choose:


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    What is a vacuum coffee maker?

    They work as their name suggests; a syphon which uses pressure and vapour to make the coffee. They produce the base for ‘long’ coffees as opposed to espressos.

    Heating and cooling the bottom chamber (water) creates various amounts of pressure. If sufficiently heated, the water rises up into the upper chamber, and then with cooling and taking it off the heat source, it drops back down into the lower section.

    In the upper chamber, the ground coffee is held, which mixes with the water. The coffee grinds don’t pass through to the coffee mixture because of the filter contained in the stem of the coffee ground container/upper carafe.

    Balance vacuum coffee makers work slightly differently in that both parts are horizontally connected via a tube. The water passes through from the metal boiling flask, into the glass carafe containing the granules, and then back again once brewed. The idea is essentially the same (and if anything, a lot more traditional).

    How to choose the best vacuum coffee maker

    There isn’t a massive difference between a lot of the vacuum coffee makers on the market. Most are a similar size capacity-wise and can use most heat sources bar induction hobs.

    The Bodum Pebo is one of the largest if you want to entertain a lot of people at once, and the balance vacuum coffee makers are the best by far for looks and creating a talking point.

    It all boils down to your budget, which you like the look of and which sounds most practical for your coffee drinking lifestyle, as well as which can be stored best in your kitchen (or displayed).


    In general, the rate is pretty standard, hovering around the £40/£50 mark for most standard 5 cup models. Some may increase up to £100 if the materials are slightly stronger or capacity is larger, and balance models are also higher priced.

    Most include an ethanol burner with the purchase, so all you need to do is buy the fuel and coffee granules. These burners provide the perfect level of heat and flame intensity, but you may want to purchase a butane burner or use your hob if you want to control the flame.

    Certain parts of the vacuum machines may need replacing over time, but generally, these parts are not expensive. Most come with reusable cloth filters, but you may prefer to use paper filters which will need replacing after every use.


    Most of the products reviewed come with a cloth filter. This is a nod to the original design, and they are reusable as they can be cleaned after every use which only improves the fact they are eco-friendly.

    Most are also usable with disposable paper filters if this is something you prefer, although you may need to buy an adaptor for these. If you prefer a stronger taste, a metal filter may be the best bet. These pass through more oils than cloth or paper (which absorbs them), but are still reusable and just need to be cleaned after every use. They may even last longer than the cloth alternatives over the months. Again, an adaptor may be required.

    Coffee Type

    They all use ground coffee. It is recommended the grinds aren’t too fine as this could block the filter, but also not too coarse so maximum extraction can be achieved.

    You can either buy them pre-ground or purchase a separate grinder. If buying them ready-made, look for blends which are suitable for use in filter machines.


    Why should I choose a vacuum coffee maker?

    A syphon coffee maker is a pretty hassle-free, clean way to make coffee. They are quite failsafe, having been used for years and adapted for efficiency, with vertical models now being the norm over the horizontal balance models first invented.

    It is a method loved by people who aren’t keen on the filter or drip through method, where hot water is poured over ground coffee and the liquid drips through a filter, thereby arguably under extracting the coffee solids. Some people also don’t like the French Press method, which can often leave behind and include coffee sediment.

    With a vacuum, the water is heated up, extracts the flavour, and then cools it down to the optimum temperature again. The grounds are steeped, rather than just touching the water, and none are included in the end result.

    Not only that, but they’re pretty fascinating to watch too.

    Is there anything to bear in mind?

    They are commonly entirely made from glass, and glass which often feels a lot thinner than that used with a cafetière. It may not be the best choice of coffee maker for anyone who is pretty heavy-handed or clumsy as all those reviewed seemed pretty brittle. A slight knock could see it shatter.

    Due to the method, the vertical models are also always top-heavy when filled. This can make them quite fragile to hold and also place down on a surface, as they could tip if not secure or on a steady base.

    They are aesthetically pleasing, but not the most practical.

    How do I clean a vacuum coffee maker?

    It can all be taken apart, which makes things easier to clean. It is recommended you hand wash each carafe and allow to fully dry, as they are often too fragile to pop in the dishwasher. Using a dishwasher may also damage the rubber vacuum seal which is so important to the working of the apparatus.

    They aren’t the easiest items to clean due to the shape of the carafes and thin openings, but as long as you keep on top of the maintenance, they should stay looking like new.


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