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Siphon-brewing coffee looks like alchemy, but it makes the best cup of joe

The Tiger Siphonysta makes siphon-brewing easy, and my coffee-loving wife couldn't be happier with it.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Kerry Wan
The Tiger Siphonysta shown with the metal stand to help you pour coffee and water into the chambers.
Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Update: We've now been using the Tiger Siphonista coffee maker for about six months and I'm happy to report it's still making the best coffee my wife has ever had. 

I will say, however, that this machine is very, very finicky. You have to get everything just right or it won't brew properly. Fortunately, after using it for a while, you get the hang of its quirks. You also very quickly learn the quirks are worth dealing with because the coffee that the Siphonista creates is stellar.

Also: 12 gifts for coffee lovers (besides a Starbucks gift card)

It's also worth noting that the price has come down dramatically since I bought the unit. When I made the purchase, it set me back about $700.00. Now, however, the Siphonista sells for $499.95, with an added 20% off coupon, which brings the price down to around $400.00. At that price, this machine is even more appealing. 

Continue reading for my full review.

I don't drink coffee -- never have. However, my wife does. In fact, I often tease my wife that she's the biggest coffee snob I know. But, I am a big reason for that. About 15 years ago, I took it upon myself to learn how to make the best cup of coffee for her. I made it my mission. Over the years, I've tried them all: drip, pour-over, French Press, Aeropress, vacuum…you name it. It wasn't until I landed on siphon makers, however, that things started to click. 

Also: I found the ultimate off-grid coffee maker

When you think of siphon coffee makers, it's probably true that those science experiment-looking machines probably come to mind, with glass tubes and gas burners that take far too long to make a coffee and are very delicate (and very challenging to use). 

But a few years ago, I landed on the Kitchenaid Siphon coffee maker. That machine really opened up my eyes to how coffee is brewed and my wife absolutely loved the taste of the coffee that the machine produced.

Unfortunately, Kitchenaid stopped making that machine. Over the years, our device started showing signs of wear and tear, and there are no replacement parts to be found. It was with great regret that I realized the Kitchenaid was going to have to be replaced.

But, with what?

After a good deal of searching and digging around for reviews (which were few and far between), I decided to take a rather considerable chance on the Tiger Siphonysta. I say "considerable chance" because this machine is expensive. You can get it on Amazon for just under $700, so it's not a machine for everyone. I just happened to wind up with a considerable credit one day because of a return and decided it was time to bite the bullet.

I'm glad I did.

View at Amazon

What is the Tiger Siphonysta?

Simply put, the Tiger Siphonysta is a siphon coffee maker that strips away much of the complexity that haunts most siphon coffee makers. You grind your coffee, scoop it into the bottom chamber of the device (with the filter already in place), attach the bottom cup to the central piece, screw on the top chamber, pour water into the top chamber, screw on the cap, insert the combined top and bottom chambers into the main unity, rotate the handle counter-clockwise (while holding the cap) to lock the unit in place, select your strength and acidity, and then tap Start. Trust me, it's less complicated than that sounded.

A top-down view of the Tiger Siphonysta.

The Tiger Siphonysta makes brewing siphon coffee a breeze.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

In three minutes, your coffee is done. Place a mug on the right side of the main unit and pull the dispensing lever. Add your sugar and cream (if needed) and enjoy the best coffee you've ever had.

Also: Picky about coffee? This compact grinder has over 30 settings to brew the perfect cup

No, it's not as simple as an automatic drip coffee maker, but if you're serious about the taste of your coffee, simplicity can take a hike. And given my wife's response to her first cup from the Siphonysta was, "This is the best cup of coffee I've ever had," you can be sure this machine is a hit.

The caveat (or "coffeeat")

The big question surrounding the Siphonysta is longevity. The Kichenaid Siphon brewer lasted somewhere between five to seven years. That machine had very few moving parts. The Tiger Siphonysta, on the other hand, has a lot of them, and gaskets that are somewhat delicate. I imagine, over time, I'll have to hope I can replace those gaskets and that all of the moving parts keep moving. For now, given how new this machine is, it's hard to say how it will fare.

With a $700 price tag, most people won't be willing to take such a chance. It would at least be a bit more comforting if Tiger would sell replacement gaskets on its site, but I don't see any. My guess is, should something fail on the Siphonysta, it will require a phone call or email and the hope that the company will back their product. But with such devices, there's always a chance that won't happen.

Also: The best travel mugs: Does anything beat Yeti?

However, if you (like me) have been on the hunt for the best-tasting coffee imaginable, the Tiger Siphonysta is worth a look. I've never seen my wife so excited to drink her cup of java first thing in the morning. Seeing as how she is most certainly not a morning person, that says everything.

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