I started watching Breaking Bad recently. Not a great show for food so far, but one of the chemists creates a crazy looking apparatus for making coffee. I was intrigued, and did a bit of research to see how much of it was real, and how much Hollywood. It turns out that the actual setup was bullshit, but the basic premise is valid.
The idea is to have two vessels. You heat the water in the first, which causes the pressure to rise and forces the hot water up a siphon tube into a second vessel which has the ground coffee. After a minute or so, the heat is shut off, which creates a vacuum and sucks the coffee back into the first vessel. A filter prevents the coffee grounds from flowing back into the first vessel.
Apparently this method has been around for at least 150 years, with some fancy models that would shut off the flame automatically.
In order to try it out and see if I actually like the coffee made this way (it is characterised as “clean and bright”, the opposite of French Press, but with the advantage of direct immersion as well as filtration, and the water is pretty much guaranteed to be at the correct temperature) I started with a simple utilitarian stacked model. It arrives Tuesday, I’ll post a follow up report once I’ve tried it.
The next step will be to make my own “mad scientist” setup. Make Magazine posted instructions for a fairly simple “Florence Siphon” setup that looks quite doable. But I really want it to look more elaborate like the one on Breaking Bad. Will have to consult with a chemist (“hi dad…”).
There is also a gorgeous stacked version, with a graceful curved stand and carafe. But it costs $300 which seems like too much, considering the one I bought was 1/10th the price and does the exact same thing. Here’s a picture of each.
Aside from the stylistic differences, mine is meant to heat right on the stove, rather than rely on an independent alcohol or butane burner.