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When Was Siphon Coffee Invented? History, Facts & FAQ

siphon coffee maker on a wooden table

Siphon coffee has been around for quite a while. With so many people around the world wanting to explore different methods of making coffee, this brewing method is making a comeback. While this method makes great coffee and is visually pleasing to the eye—making it ideal for coffee shops around the world—you may be asking, when was siphon coffee invented? The answer, for the most part, is 1830. However, there is more to the story.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the world of siphon coffee, when it was invented, and who made it famous. We’ll also learn why this satisfying coffee brewing method is on the rise once again.

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The Origins of Siphon Coffee

Records show the first patent for a siphon coffee brewer was in 1830. This patent was filed by Loeff of Berlin. Oddly enough, however, it wasn’t until 1840 when a French woman patented the device considered the first commercial siphon coffee brewing machine. This woman was Marie Fanny Amelne Massot, better known as Mme. Vassieux, of Lyons, France. She was believed to be a courtesan and spent her time holding court in a salon many French nobles and men of wealth frequented. This is how she found the time to master her coffee brewing system. She also used her connections to aid in her manufacturing, which allowed her system to be distributed in large numbers.

While Loeff of Berlin applied for the first patent for a siphon coffee brewer, his design was not well-accepted. But yet another is credited for designing a siphon coffee brewer before the popular design of Mme. Vassieux—his name was James Napier. His brewer was called the Naperian coffee machine. Unfortunately, for Napier, he did not apply for a patent and his design couldn’t be realized due to the intricacies of it. After seeing what those who came before her offered when it came to siphon brewing machines, Mme. Viassieux bypassed the mistakes of her predecessors and rose to fame with her stunning system that could be used as a centerpiece of any room.

siphon coffee maker on wooden table near coffee cups
Image Credit: subarasikiai, Pixabay

How the Original Siphons Worked

If you have never seen a siphon coffee maker, you may be unaware of how the system works. The first thing to know is that, although the device itself looks complex, the system is quite simple. Mme. Vassieux’s original siphon brewer consisted of two glass balloons held into place by a frame. It also featured a metal crown and spigot so you could serve coffee directly from the device.

When using the siphon coffee pot, water is placed in the bottom glass balloon and heated using a preferred heat source. The water will begin to boil, pushing air through a metal tube and into the upper chamber. Once all the water is in the upper chamber, ground coffee is then added. This coffee needs to be stirred well to ensure it all mixes for brewing. After adding the coffee and stirring well, it is then time to remove the heat source, which creates a vacuum. As the coffee begins to cool, it will then pass through the tube, finally returning to the bottom balloon. The coffee inside is quite hot and must be allowed to cool for several minutes before drinking.

siphon coffee maker near a ceramic cup
Image Credit: t_watanabe, Pixabay

The Rebirth of Siphon Coffee

While siphon coffee never went away completely, it wasn’t often talked about or offered often in main street coffee shops. That’s all changed. Newer versions of the siphon coffee maker are gaining popularity. Not only do these systems look great sitting on the counter of a local coffee shop or café, but with so many technological advances at our fingertips, they are much easier to use. While the overall function remains the same, it is the heat source that has been modified. The latest retro siphon brewers use infra-red lamps and even gas lamps as heat sources. This not only looks good but can heat the water faster than the original brewing method.

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Grab Yourself a Siphon Coffee

As you can see, siphon coffee has been on a long, winding ride. The one thing that has stayed consistent is the great taste of coffee brewed in this way. Notes of flavors you normally miss out on when sipping coffee are prevalent in this version. If you have not had the opportunity to try siphon coffee, now’s the time. While it may have originated in 1830, the advances made in the coffee world, not to mention the huge variety of flavors, have made siphon coffee even better. Next time you see this ornate coffee brewing system on display at your local shop, order a cup. You’ll thank us for it.

Featured Image Credit: Lawrence Aritao, Unsplash


Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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