San Francisco's new Blue Bottle Café brews its coffee in an ultra-engineered "siphon bar" from Japan. The Steampunk-looking machine uses halogen bulbs to heat the water. The grounds are hand-stirred into the perfect whirlpool using bamboo paddles. Apparently, the siphon bar is the only one of its kind in the United States. The cost to buy and import it? $20,000. Yesterday's New York Times featured an article on the resurgence in brewed coffee and a slideshow of coffeemaker fetish photos by Peter DaSilva showing how the siphon bar works. From the New York Times (click image for full photo):
Could this be the age of brewed coffee? "We're right there at the threshold," said George Howell of Terroir Coffee, a retailer of roasted and green beans. "Coffee has never been a noble beverage because the means to perfectly produce it haven't existed," said Mr. Howell, who is also a founder of the Cup of Excellence, an annual competition that seeks to identify the best beans in each coffee-producing nation.
But, he said, with recent advances in coffee-making technology, "now you can get perfect extraction."
(Blue Bottle Cafe owner James) Freeman is not trying to end the era of espresso. He still starts his days with a cappuccino, and his cafe serves drinks mostly from espresso machines, including a lovingly refurbished San Marco from the 1980s. But he's excited by the possibilities of brewed coffee.
"Siphon coffee is very delicate," he said. "It's sweeter and juicier, and the flavors change as the temperature changes. Sometimes it has a texture so light it's almost moussey."