Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Steampunk Lifestyles: Siphon Coffee Brewers (aka Vacuum Coffee Makers)


Image of a Siphon brewer on a a $20,000 (USD) brewing system

I have been going through some changes in work hours, which has led to the "Devil's Brew" becoming my vice of choice for the past couple of weeks.  There is much to be said for modern conveniences regarding coffee brewing (the simplicity of pushing a button and having coffee ready within a few minutes is priceless), it brought me back to the concept of Siphon brewers.  Even though I had touched upon the topic back in February, as a coffee lover, I would argue the topic easily merits a second visit!


Edgar Perdelwitz's Coffee Infusion machine, 1887

The first Siphon brewers were developed in the 1700's, but their popularity started to grow by the mid 1800's, and were a popular means of brewing until the early 1900s (placing it square in the Steampunk era - what Steampunk scientist would want to sleep, when a cup of coffee will keep him/her awake?), when the first peculating machines were patented, expressly for coffee brewing.  By the beginning of the Art Deco period (approximatly the 1920s), stylish coffee pots emerged with dual chambers made of metal or ceramic became popular, and by the 1950s, the first pump-percolator coffee brewers, (aka, "Mr. Coffee") became the dominant means of brewing coffee.  (For more historical detail about Siphon brewers and other coffee topics, please visit Vacuum Coffee Pots website!)


A stunning siphon brewer (The RBS-003) - beautiful, but about $500 (USD)!

The potential issue is a classic "form versus funciton" - the desire to have a beautiful, Steampunk inspired coffee maker to brew an outstanding cup of coffee versus getting the delectable caffeine to start the day.  On the high end (as pictured above), one can obtain a "Royal Coffee Maker" for a small bit of change, or at the other end of the spectrum, one can find a Siphon coffee maker for about, $30 USD, though it frankly has none of the charm as one of the gems above.


Vacuum Coffee demo video
(courtesy of Wake Up Vibes coffee blog)

The contentiousness regarding how to brew the "perfect" pot of Siphon coffee among coffee enthusiasts is a polarizing as whether Starbucks products have a burnt aftertaste (I would argue a resounding yes on that, personally).  Case in point - just read the comments on the above YouTube production.  Still, being able to do so is a pleasurable travail, having to brew pot after pot of coffee, just to get the right brew!


A Sunbeam Vacuum Coffee pot 
(however, it appears to have a bit of AC assistance!)

Even if one acquires a basic Siphon brewer, the ingenuity of any Steampunk enthusiast will shine through after a few small modifications!  However, to learn more about the topic of Siphon coffee brewers, please visit the following locations...

Vacuum Coffee Pots (A comprehensive site on said topic)
Stumpjack Coffee Company (where I first learned about Siphon brewers)
Coffee Geek (Tips about using a Siphon Coffee brewer)
Home Barista (More information on using a Siphon Coffee brewer)
LFT Forum article on Siphon Coffee brewing (with a good number of photos)
The Coffee Kid's article on Vacuum Coffee brewing

If you'll excuse me, I think I'll go have a cup of coffee...

1 comment:

Annie Rose said...

Im loving the look of the coffee maker! Unfortunately Im too spoiled by my programable coffee maker that I set the night before. Its so cool looking tho I would actually almost consider buying it just to set out. Almost. lol