There are dozens of different ways you can brew your coffee. Each has its advantages, and what you should choose will be highly determined by your taste and what kind of coffee you like. Some methods are quite similar to one another but produce a totally different cup of coffee.
Moka pots and siphons are commonly considered to be the same thing. While they use similar brewing methods, they give you coffee of a completely different taste and texture. So, what’s the difference between a Moka pot and a siphon?
Both Moka pots and siphons use high-pressure steam to brew the coffee. However, Moka pots boil water, while siphons keep it at a constant temperature without boiling. Also, the coffee grounds are located in different spots (upper chamber in a siphon/in-between chambers in a Moka pot).
The way these two options brew your coffee highly determines the taste and texture of the coffee. If you want to learn more about both brewing methods and how they differ, you’re in the right place. We’ll dig in and explain all the differences and similarities and ultimately provide you with some of the best options on the market for both Moka pots and siphons.
What Is a Moka pot?
A Moka pot will provide you with coffee as close to real espresso as you can get without a strong espresso machine. There are stove-top and electric variants of the Moka pot, but they both need a lot of heat to produce the coffee effectively. So how does it work?
There are three chambers in a Moka pot, connected with a tube usually made of metal (as the whole apparatus is metal-based. The bottom chamber contains water, the mid chamber (known as the gasket) contains coffee grounds (and is by far the smallest), while the top chamber is empty – it is where the coffee rises when it’s done.
To make coffee in a Moka pot, you need to boil the water in the bottom chamber. That chamber is vacuum-sealed, so boiling creates high-pressured steam that rises through the tube into the gasket (mid-chamber). Here, it passes through the coffee grounds, and as it continues to boil, the coffee water and steam rise to the top chamber.
What you end up with is a very strong coffee, as the high-pressure boiling extracts as much flavor from the coffee grounds as possible. After it’s done, simply discard the leftover grounds and rinse.
What Is a Siphon Coffee Maker?
Siphon coffee makers are also known as vacuum pots, and they are my favorite coffee-brewing option available. While they do look like something out of a modern-day science lab, with glass tubes and burners, the siphons have actually been around for almost two centuries.
Like the Moka pot, a siphon has three separate sections – the bottom, mid, and upper chamber. It takes some time for the whole process to be done, but it’s satisfying to watch and to make – it almost looks like a science experience.
And it does involve a lot of science and the usage of vacuum and water pressure. That’s why you need some skill to make a great siphon coffee, and it can quickly turn into a mess if you’re not careful. But, if you do it right, you’ll get the best coffee you ever tasted and will have your guests talking about how great your coffee was for days after they leave. So, how does it work?
Unlike other brewing methods that require the water to boil before getting into contact with coffee, the siphon uses science to get even the most subtle fragrances from the coffee ground. The water in the bottom vacuum chamber gets heated at a constant temperature. As it heats, the pressure rises.
Once the pressure in the bottom chamber exceeds the atmospheric pressure in the top chamber, it pushes out the water and gets it into the top chamber. That’s where your coffee grounds are. The top chamber is never boiled, providing perfect conditions to extract every subtle aroma of the coffee that you usually lose by boiling.
Keeping constant heat in the bottom chamber keeps the water up and the coffee brewing. Once it’s done brewing (a minute or two after the water rises), you remove the siphon from the heat source. That will cause the pressure inside the bottom chamber to drop and the brewed coffee to drop back through a filter due to gravity.
It leaves you with a perfectly brewed coffee done with fully immersed grounds, keeping all the flavor that usually gets lost with boiling. It’s a long process that requires some care, but it’s worth the wait.
Moka Pot vs Siphon: How It Differs?
You can see that a Moka pot and a siphon work similarly: both have three chambers, apply heat to the bottom chamber under vacuum, etc. However, some huge differences make the coffee taste completely different.
First of all, the ground coffee is located in different spots, making the brewing much different. Siphons use a full-immerse system with the ground coffee in the upper chamber. Moka pots have the coffee in the mid-section, so the boiling steam from the bottom chamber passes through it to extract taste instead of having the grounds fully immersed in water.
Also, the filter is different – while the Moka pots use only a metal filter, vacuum pots have a cloth filter, giving you a much cleaner coffee.
Next, the coffee is never brought to the point of boiling in a siphon, while the Moka pots require boiling water in the bottom chamber. Instead, the siphons use a constant temperature and pressure to brew the coffee, keeping all the subtle fragrances in the beverage instead of losing them to boiling.
The coffee comes back down through the filter and ends up back in the bottom chamber in a siphon, while the Moka pot keeps the brewed coffee in the upper chamber, ready to pour out directly.
In the end, a vacuum pot requires a bit more skill and care to brew successfully, but it gives you more control over the strength of the coffee, the brewing temperature, etc., which enables you to make your coffee just the way you want. I think that a siphon is the best way to brew coffee at home, but it’s not practical to use it all the time, as it takes more time and care to brew.
Best Moka Pots
I have had several Moka pots in my life and found the Cuque Electric Moka Pot to be one of the best options on the market. Not only is it gorgeous and modern-looking, but it works on its electric heater, so you don’t have to use a stove. It’s long-lasting, easy to clean, and has a nice 6-cup capacity. It’s also the closest to a real espresso I ever got with Moka pot brewing.
The only problem, though, is that it’s on the more expensive side. If you want to go for a budget pick, I strongly recommend the Zulay Classic Stovetop Moka Pot. It’s cheap, but it works like a charm. It’s also stunning visually, and you can choose between a 5-cup or 8-cup capacity. It’s quite easy to clean, and while it’s not close to real espresso, it makes excellent coffee.
You can find more Moka pots options in the article here.
Best Siphon Coffee Makers
If you’re aiming for the best of the best, you need the Diguo Belgium Balance Siphon. It looks spectacular, and brewing your coffee in it will be so fun it can only be topped with the spectacular taste of the coffee you’ll get. It’s made of stainless steel, cleans easily, and you can choose a couple of colors – golden, copper, or silver.
Having the best of the best comes at a high price, though. You can get a simpler siphon that makes nice coffee, too, for a fraction of the price. My best budget pick is the Boeng 5-cup Siphon. It looks like something you’d use on a spaceship – fun to use and fitting in any environment or kitchen design.
You can find more Siphon coffee makers in the article here.