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Vac vs siphon vs press pot
What I am wondering here is how a vac or siphon brewer is any different than using a press pot. All three steep the grounds and then the coffee is sent back through a filter. Except for the amount of filtration I don't see how the end result would be any different from them. Especially a siphon where the grounds are actually poured in the water in the top chamber and stirred, just like a press pot.

With the vac and siphon you have two containers to clean after usage and only one with the press pot. So before I invest in a vac or siphon I need convincing that the coffee will be better then a press pot.

Anyone care to comment on this?


- Ron

Edit: I am currently using a Melitta pour over and considering a Chemex besides the vac & siphon. I like the capability to make 20oz with the smaller Chemex.
Edited by Beaner on 08/10/2010 12:42 PM
Siphon/vac is a very clean cup vs the press. Maybe a bit more work, but worth it!!!

A 'gold' strainer makes the press pot cleaner than using one with a standard strainer. What I like about the press pot is that the steeping time is adjustable and can be very short. The other types have a preset steeping time, more or less.
I haven't used a siphon, but I really enjoy my vac pot, and my press gets used on camping trips.

The differences between methods will probably be directly related to the consistency of your grinder. A grinder like a blade grinder or a inexpensive burr grinder will leave more sediment in the cup with the vac pot and significantly more sediment in the press (although, Dan has great insight about that). More sediment because the grinder isn't capable of producing particles all the same size - some are coarser, some finer - which has a great impact on cup quality. For a given time, the finer grinds are overextracted (bitter) and the coarser grinds are under extracted (lacking body and flavor).

Cleanup of my glass vac pot can't be simpler: rinse the grounds down the garbage disposal and wipe with a cloth. Cleaning the press is slightly more involved (on my Bodum, I have to disassemble the mesh filter assembly to get the grounds out).

Edited by seedlings on 08/10/2010 2:03 PM
Roaster: CoffeeAir II 2# DIY air roaster
Grinder: Vintage Grindmaster 500
Brewers: Vintage Cory DCU DCL, Aeropress, Press, Osaka Titanium pourover
I use a Capresso Infinity grinder so my grounds are pretty even and I use a swissgold filter.

Chad, you have a point regarding the mesh filter on the press pot, it's sort of a pain having to disasseble it to clean it. I guess that balances out the two chambers to rinse on the vac & siphon.

So are you guys saying that given same even grinds and everything being prepared correctly that the end result in flavor will be the same or close to it?

I'm curious if the benefit of the vacpot(siphon) is bloom temp. Im not sure if there is benefit to the siphon, being that its all based upon atmospheric pressure differences created during the heating and cooling.I wonder whether there is a balance and a perfect temperature(bloom) simply because of its function.. I need to buy one and run some tests

Albeit I feel like its just a very complicated way to make coffee, and great cups can be had if proper attrention is paid to temps and quality of ingrediants no matter the hype surrounding a particular method. With all good things going in its really going to come down to personal preference, and what you prefer in a great cup of coffee be it flavor, body or convenience.
they are pretty friggin cool, another plus.B)
Sean Harrington

I've used many varieties of press pots and siphon brewers over the years. By siphon brewer I'm referring to a traditional vacuum pot, not the Napier or balance siphon as Royal Belgium makes.

If the vacuum brewer has a good filter design, one that allows a clean brew that's fairly free of suspended fines, they can produce some of the best coffee on the planet. I've gotten great results from vac brewers with cloth, glass rod and Cory's twin metal disc type filters. I've never achieved great results with the nylon or metal screen type filters as they typically let too many fines through into the brew.

I've had on many occasions just as good of a cup quality using a press pot but only with a perfect grind size that allowed pressing the plunger down slowly without any grounds/fines sneaking past the outer edge of the screen. With the right grind size, the bed of coffee becomes it's own filter catching most of the fines. When the fines get through and create a muddy brew the subtle flavor details are lost and becomes inferior to a common drip brew.

Sean is right that great cups can be had if proper attention is paid to temps and quality of ingredients but it sure is fun playing around with a vacuum brewer!

If you want to give vacuum brewing a try (and I highly suggest it) you can get into a fairly durable one with cloth filter for a reasonable price with the Yama stovetop models. I've gotten remarkable results with it.

1/2 lb and 1 lb drum, Siemens Sirocco fluidbed, presspot, chemex, cajun biggin brewer from the backwoods of Louisiana
My "emergency" coffee brewing system, when we lose electricity, is a Zass knee grinder and press pot with water boiled on the gas range (lit with a match). I have the grinder setting locked in with a set screw so its the appropriate medium coarse grind.
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