Last Updated: 17-12-2018

10 Best Vacuum Coffee Makers 2019

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:

 

The Best Vacuum Coffee Maker

1.
BODUM Pebo 8-Cup Vacuum Coffee Maker – Best Overall

Completely sealed so no aroma can escape, the Pebo by Bodum is a popular choice between syphon lovers.

The timings of the Pebo have been calibrated to ensure the best brew is made each and every use, with enough time given to soak the coffee and pass it through the filter to get the maximum taste.

It can hold up to a litre of water to make a maximum of 8 cups and will take up to 5 to 11 minutes to complete the process depending on how much water is being used.

In terms of heating, it can be used on a gas hob, or a heater such as the dedicated rechargeable Pebo Gas Stove if you want to give it its own little heat source or take it on holiday/camping with you. It can also be used on electric hobs, but not induction. The borosilicate glass is strong enough to withstand laboratory-style heating methods.

There are no paper filters required, which will please anyone trying to cut down on their waste. This one is reusable, contained within the neck of the upper carafe. The water is pulled through this with the lowering of the heat source – the ‘vacuum’ part of the process.

It is easy to fit both parts of the maker on top of one another, thanks to the rubber seal. The filter has a spring attached which is clipped onto the spout, closing the filter part and only allowing liquid to pass through.

A problem which is not uncommon with this form of coffee preparation is that the vessel is top heavy when you come to take it off the heat source, so extra care and attention is needed regarding where you place it, how you hold it and the speed in which you manoeuvre it.

Reasons to Buy

  • Great tasting coffee – not stewed
  • Perfect temperature for coffee serving
  • Price

Reasons to Avoid

  • Blocks up if the coffee is ground too finely
  • No burner included

+ Specifications

  • Capacity: 1L
  • Cups: 4-8
  • Power: Any Heat

2.
Hario Sommelier SCA-5 Glass Syphon Coffee Maker – Best for Taste

As the name suggests, the design of this syphon resembles a wine decanter so offers something a bit different from the others available.

There is a metal filter included, which is a lot more modern than the traditional cloth-based alternatives which are usually recommended for syphon apparatus. This is even easier to clean and longer-lasting, and as it is stainless steel, no taste will be transferred to the coffee.

A cloth filter is included too which will produce a slightly different flavour to the steel version. Metallic filters pass oils from the beans through, boosting the taste, whereas cloth traps these.

The design is not just all about looks either; the unique form of the glass removes even the finest particles of coffee, separating them from the formed liquid and original granules.

An alcohol burner is included, but again you may prefer a butane burner to give you more control over heat and flame.

Pouring the coffee is more complicated than with other designs. Just like a wine decanter, the spout is on the wide side, and the liquid comes out in one big flow rather than controlled. The first time we poured the coffee, it did spill away from the cup, but it isn’t overly hard to get used to.

Other syphons are also designed with a handle to hold rather than a rubber grip surrounding the carafe, like with this model. We couldn’t quite decide which we preferred, although this one felt a little less comfortable in general.

But it is still the best looking vertical vacuum coffee maker in our opinion, so won’t just be a talking point in terms of the coffee it produces. It makes 5 small coffee cups or 2 larger standard mugs.

Reasons to Buy

  • Unique design
  • Choice of two filters included

Reasons to Avoid

  • Pouring is harder to get right

+ Specifications

  • Capacity: 600ml
  • Cups: 5
  • Power: Burner

3.
S4U Coffee Master Syphon/Vacuum Glass Coffee Maker – Best Value

Quick and easy to both set up and brew the coffee, this S4U version is also on the affordable side.

It looks like a lot of other alternatives on the market. In fact, it looks exactly the same as the Hario Technica but is around half the price, so great for anyone who is sceptical about whether they will like this method and want to experiment first.

There is a methylated spirit burner included with the purchase, which for the price is a great bonus. It is adequate to use, but anyone who likes to have a bit more control over the flame may want to opt for an extra gas burner. However, this one is perfect for providing the correct heat without blackening the glass or preventing it from over-boiling.

Also included is a coffee scoop, bamboo paddle for stirring the coffee and a spare cloth filter for when it needs replacing. The filter is reusable, and if you give it a wash in warm water after every use, it will prolong its life. As with everything, however, it will start to show signs of wear after a while, but we predict this will take a good couple of months.

The beauty of vacuum coffee makers is that each part can be separated and replaced individually if need be. Spares available include the chain filter, bottom and top glass, burner and wick, as well as further spare cloth filters, and they are all offered at a great price too.

There seem to be absolutely no signals that this is one of the cheapest options available. In fact, we loved how the glass of the bottom carafe was slightly thicker than that of the top to balance it all out, which isn’t even a feature of some alternatives twice the price. Whether you are new to vacuum coffee, or a seasoned pro, this is one of the best options.

Reasons to Buy

  • Price
  • Every part is easily replaced

Reasons to Avoid

  • Only produces 5 small cups of coffee and about 2 large mugs

+ Specifications

  • Capacity: 600ml
  • Cups: 5
  • Power: Burner

4.
Bodum ePEBO Electric Vacuum Coffee Maker – Best Electrical

The most modern twist on a traditional vacuum coffee maker that money can buy, this electrical option from firm favourites Bodum is super efficient.

It defeats the purpose of why some people want a vacuum apparatus, as it uses power. But this does make it perfect for anybody who doesn’t like the idea of flames and gas/ethanol burners in their home. It also makes it a bit more efficient and quick than some other models, taking around ten minutes to complete the process when it is full.

Using it is as simple as filling up the vessels with the coffee grounds/water, and pressing the ‘on/off’ button. The brewing itself only takes about four minutes, and auto switch off means it stops heating when ready so you don’t need to monitor it and take it off the heat source.

This also increases the safety aspect. While it is unlikely a traditional syphon will boil dry, this electrical model will guarantee it doesn’t. The handle is also great for grip, using soft rubber for a safe hold and far away from the hot glass.

The coffee tastes great, and even though it does take a bit longer than most other electrical methods (such as bean to cup or filter), the end result is worth the wait. The same brand of coffee did taste better with this method than with some of the machines we have also tested.

You could argue that, just like with the other syphon-style models, it is a form of creating conversation than a practical, everyday item. Keeping it clean is a bit difficult, especially as it has to be done after every use, and this effort could well outweigh the taste eventually. But it’s still a great product, even though the price is steep.

Reasons to Buy

  • Less effort to use than burner models
  • Taste of coffee is great

Reasons to Avoid

  • Hard to clean
  • Must use a minimum of 0.7L water – too much for one or two people

+ Specifications

  • Capacity: 1L
  • Cups: 6-8
  • Power: Electric

5.
S4U Coffee Master Royal Vienna Balance Coffee Maker – Best Traditional

A vacuum coffee maker which acts as a brilliant nod towards the traditional style of the very first style invented back in the 1830’s.

Unlike the other models reviewed, where the water rises and drops vertically, this is a balance vacuum coffee maker where both parts sit alongside one another.

Fill the glass carafe with coffee granules, and then fill the boiler chamber with hot water and place in the apparatus. A horizontal tube connects both sections, rather than a vacuum neck. The boiler chamber sits low on the swing when full of water, holding the burner open for the flame. As it is boiling, it is forced into the glass brewing chamber, and once the boiler is empty, it rises on the swing enough to close the lid of the burner and extinguish the lamp.

A vacuum is formed in the glass chamber, which forces the prepared coffee back into the boiler via the tube, where there is a little tap for it to be served. It is also kept warm in here, and there would be nothing to stop you reboiling it in order to strengthen the flavour.

The tube contains a small mesh filter which needs to be washed frequently and can be replaced if necessary. The water is forced into the brewing compartment when at the ideal temperature of 93°C, so the coffee is brewed without damaging the taste.

It is quite a visual spectacle, and perfect if you want to create a real talking point at the dinner table. However, because of the design, it is not the choice for anyone who will be storing it in between uses because it is longer than upright models.

Available in both gold and silver, there is an option to match any kitchen. You can even match it up to the colour of your cutlery, or accents in your dining room.

Reasons to Buy

  • Novelty, classic design
  • Stainless steel boiler is strong
  • Glass is strong

Reasons to Avoid

  • Is relatively small capacity

+ Specifications

  • Capacity: 500ml
  • Cups: 2
  • Power: Alcohol Burner

6.
Hario TCA Coffee Syphon Technica

Hario Japan has crafted the Technica, available in three different sizes and comes complete with an alcohol burner for easy setup.

You don’t only have to use the alcohol burner, however. Any heat source, apart from induction hobs, will do the same job. The heater does mean you can not only use the syphon at home but also wherever you go, such as on camping trips or in the caravan/holiday home.

The filter included is cloth, so needs to be washed after every use, but there is a paper filter adaptor available as an extra which allows you to use the alternative.

We would recommend purchasing another burner if you like the idea of having a separate heat source and are going to be using it frequently, such as a butane or halogen version which are readily available. The one supplied is perfectly sufficient, but a bit fiddly to operate and is a bit weak. This could have just been our particular one, but there are plenty of suitable alternatives on the market which can give you better control over the flame.

It is one of the most expensive options we have included, particularly if you are after the larger 5 cup size, but you can really feel the quality. The chain and spring feel strong, whereas they can be a bit temperamental and weak on cheaper models.

Easy to clean and great to watch while it does its work, this is a great option for anyone who wants to experience the full art of vacuum coffee preparation. Just remember to buy the methylated spirits/prepare the alternative heat source before it arrives, so you’re good to go straight away.

Reasons to Buy

  • Enjoyable to use
  • Coffee tastes excellent
  • Burner is included to get you started

Reasons to Avoid

  • Doesn’t look as elegant as most other options

+ Specifications

  • Capacity: 240ml/360ml/600ml
  • Cups: 2/3/5/Cup
  • Power: Burner

7.
Hario Mini Siphon – Best for Single Servings

The name of the Hario Mini Siphon is certainly not an exaggeration, with only about one full mug of coffee produced each time.

This does make it perfect for anyone living on their own, or anybody who prefers to have a smaller espresso-sized coffee without the strength an espresso offers. Due to the size, it would happily sit on a work desk or even just as an ornamental feature with only occasional use.

The beauty of such a small device is that you do get maximum flavour. Every part of the coffee flavour is extracted, so it provides a bit more of a kick than 5 cup models. It is also a lot quicker, so if you are after something to make a quick cup of coffee in the morning, this will only take a few minutes.

It is incredibly fragile due to the size, and we got the impression the slightest of knocks would shatter it. But in contrast, the metallic base and stand are incredibly durable and sturdy, so we don’t think there would be any risk of it tipping over and breaking this way.

There is no denying it is a quality product, which is reflected in the price, but whether you’d want to splash out on this model for single-use or buy one that is cheaper and adapt it for single use is up to you.

Reasons to Buy

  • Quality feel and materials
  • Perfect for single cup

Reasons to Avoid

  • Price

+ Specifications

  • Capacity: 120ml
  • Cups: 1
  • Power: Burner

8.
Diguo Belgian Luxury Royal Family Balance Syphon Coffee Maker

For something that not only provides a quality cup of coffee but also looks like a true art piece, this balance vacuum coffee maker in rose gold is an ideal option.

The elegant design involves using a spirit burner to heat the water in the metallic flask, which then passes through a tube and into the glass carafe which holds the coffee granules. The ‘balance’ part comes from the flask rising with the loss of water and turning off the burner.

The coffee and water mix together and the drop in heat means the coffee is sucked back into the flask from which it can be served. Vacuum machines automatically time the process at the optimum level for the perfect tasting brew, with minimal effort from you.

The burner uses methylated spirit/ethanol. Unlike with the modern vertical models, you can’t really substitute this for a gas burner.

Price-wise, it isn’t too bad. A lot of other balance models are way over the £100 mark due to the materials and the exact level of precision and work which goes into their production, but there is no real difference we can find between this and similar products which retail at twice the price.

It isn’t really suitable for daily use, as it takes a lot of cleaning after use and this is quite time-consuming. But for a weekend treat or an after-dinner party event, it is the ideal piece of kit.

Reasons to Buy

  • Fab design
  • Well crafted and durable
  • Easy grip handle

Reasons to Avoid

  • Plastic base

+ Specifications

  • Capacity: 500ml
  • Cups: 3
  • Power: Burner

9.
DecentGadget Coffee Syphon/Vacuum Glass Coffee Maker

A syphon model which makes a top cup of coffee for the price.

It doesn’t look overly different to most of the other vacuums on the market but is still really clean and modern, which we love. It is also slightly lighter than some of the alternatives, which may help anyone who can see themselves transporting it around their home or using it in a caravan/holiday home.

Unfortunately, the rubber seal doesn’t feel overly secure. It didn’t leak or anything, but it was a bit of a fiddle to completely match up and secure compared to some of the other models which merely slotted together in comparison. But once it is all matched up, it works perfectly well.

Even though the methodology is pretty straightforward, you still need to read through and follow the instructions. And the instructions included are less than helpful really, due to poor translation we presume. But there are plenty of walkthroughs online and YouTube tutorials of setting up both this model and ones which look similar and once you have grasped it all it seems simple enough.

There is a paddle and measuring scoop included, as well as an alcohol burner. It is compatible with gas burners too, and the ‘feet’ of the appliance is also wide and stable enough to be sat around a small gas hob burner.

Again, it will make 5 cups of coffee, but only around 2 standard mugs.

Reasons to Buy

  • Price

Reasons to Avoid

  • Instructions and initial setup are not simple

+ Specifications

  • Capacity: 600ml
  • Cups: 5
  • Power: Burner

10.
TAMUME 5 Cup Syphon Vacuum Coffee Maker

This all in one package includes all the necessary gadgets and extras required to start you on your way to brewing your first vacuum coffee.

While it may look the same as some of the others on this list (and also be similarly priced), there is one subtle difference which gives it that extra edge in terms of usability. The handle is more extended than some others, at 5.5 inches long. It is also completely straight and therefore a bit easier to get a comfortable, more personalised grip on. Others sometimes make it clear where your hand should sit, which can make it difficult to lift.

The instructions included are clear enough to get going, and there are also some handy care guidelines. For instance, the flannel filter included should be cleaned after every use, and kept inside the plastic bag included and in the fridge in order to keep it moist.

Reasons to Buy

  • Good instructions
  • Great handle to grip

Reasons to Avoid

  • Writing on the glass carafes ruins the look slightly

+ Specifications

  • Capacity: 600ml
  • Cups: 5
  • Power: Burner

Vacuum Coffee Maker Buying Guide

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).

What is the best vacuum coffee maker for me?

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).

Price

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.

Filters

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.

FAQs

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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