Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Balancing Siphon Coffee Maker

The Balancing Siphon Coffee Maker, also known as the Royal Belgium Coffee Maker, IMHO is definitely one of the coolest coffee maker ever made.

It was invented in the early 1800s and have survived the test of time almost 200 years later. Designed using the principles of gravity and steam, this coffee maker puts on a great coffee making show. It is probably the earliest automatic coffee maker produced.

How do you use a balancing siphon coffee maker?
Using the accessories that came with this 4C Balancing Siphon Coffee Maker set, here's a simple photo walk through on how it's done.
Make sure your set is clean from any residue from previous use. Ensure your alcohol lamp is filled 2/3 with ethyl alcohol or methylated spirit (NEVER use kerosene unless you don't mind having thick black soot all over the bottom of your brewer).
Remove the water inlet plug at the top of the water chamber. Add water. I prefer to add hot water as it cuts down on the overall coffee brewing time. Pour in about 400ml (~13.5oz) of water. You can use the measuring cup that comes with the set.
Screw back the plug at the top of the brewer. As the water chamber contains water, it becomes heavier than the counter balance and will 'sit' closer to the alcohol lamp. Flip open the alcohol lamp cover and let the bottom of the water chamber props the cover open, exposing the wick.
Using the coffee scoop that's included, grind 4 scoops of beans. One scoop carries is approximately 8gms (~0.28oz) of beans. Use medium grind size (you can adjust this up or down based on taste. If too weak, grind finer and if too strong, then grind coarser next time). Pour the ground coffee into the balancing siphon glass cup.
Light the wick. Sit back and enjoy the show!
After a couple of minutes (longer if you use room temperature water), the water in the water chamber boils and the resulting pressure will force the water over to the glass cup to brew the coffee.
Once almost all water has been 'pushed' into the glass cup (there will still be a little bit ... probably 20ml or so of water left on the water chamber), the balance will shift back to the counter balance. The water chamber will lift and this causes the wick cover to drop, thus extinguishing the fire.
The water chamber will cool down. The resulting vacuum will cause the coffee to be siphoned back from the glass cup to the water chamber and in the process the coffee is filtered. Once the coffee is fully siphoned back, the shift in balance will cause the brewing chamber to sit back in its original position.
Unscrew the plug at the top of the water chamber to equalize pressure. Otherwise, you can wait till the cow comes home and you will not get your coffee.
You may now turn the spigot and see the freshly brewed coffee filling up your cup. Enjoy!

You can find out more about this brewer here.

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