NYTimes: Blue Bottle, SF, Japanese Syphon Bar

press, drip, syphon, clover

Postby Jaime van Schyndel on Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:15 am

Chris Baca wrote:This has been on of the hardest parts of our single origin espresso program...people are like "yikes! this doesn't taste like normal espresso!" Well, it tastes like that particular coffee brewed through an espresso machine. Which is where I'd like to see more espresso based stuff go...highlighting the coffee! Use amazing single origin coffees to make spro with, you can do it!
Solid.


Ok. You know that and you see that but how can others on a forum who haven't shared a shot see that? You still want that TCA-2, keep an eye on ebay as they come up occassionaly.

I like vac pot only because with the method I brew it, it's a controlled flat line brew... like the LM I use to pull shots. That means if I can get the roast to taste good in vac, it's a short trip to getting it roasted right as a shot. The vac pot, when brewed with a heavier dose can also bring enough intesity and clarity to see problems that just don't jump out on the cupping table.

On the other hand, we seem much more enamoured with the fact that someone payed 20k for what is essentialy a heating element. Something that could be replaced with some natural gas burners plumbed in with a custom built range for a quarter of the cost. It's just a heating element and has little bearing on the quality of brew. All you need is a stable heat source that gets you a flat line temp for your entire brew. It's the one upsmanship that's cool, the hip BS of 'doing it first' or buying the most expensive modded or tweaked out equipment. Few people realize the Clover is modeled after a vacpot, and though it's a flawed model, the physics are there. It then begs the question that if the someone would rather buy a pair of Clovers than get a single vacpot and learn it's physics because it takes too much attention, where are we really?

Has anyone actually tasted the vac brew at BB to pony up if it's any good?
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Postby nick on Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:43 am

Jaime van Schyndel wrote:On the other hand, we seem much more enamoured with the fact that someone payed 20k for what is essentialy a heating element. Something that could be replaced with some natural gas burners plumbed in with a custom built range for a quarter of the cost. It's just a heating element and has little bearing on the quality of brew. All you need is a stable heat source that gets you a flat line temp for your entire brew. It's the one upsmanship that's cool, the hip BS of 'doing it first' or buying the most expensive modded or tweaked out equipment. Few people realize the Clover is modeled after a vacpot, and though it's a flawed model, the physics are there. It then begs the question that if the someone would rather buy a pair of Clovers than get a single vacpot and learn it's physics because it takes too much attention, where are we really?

Has anyone actually tasted the vac brew at BB to pony up if it's any good?


Andi Trindle did, and she said it was awesome.

I don't know that the Clover was "modeled after a vacpot." There are similarities, but I don't think that Zander et al. were looking at a vacpot to automate or PID.

That said Jaime, your "we seem much more enamoured with the fact that someone payed 20k for what is essentialy a heating element" and "It then begs the question that if the someone would rather buy a pair of Clovers than get a single vacpot and learn it's physics because it takes too much attention, where are we really?" comments seem like straw-man arguments to me. Nobody is enamored by the $20K. It's just being mentioned. Nobody said they'd rather Clover vs. anything either.

That said, we've got a Hario and the two different Bodum vacpots here at the shop... and no Clovers. :wink:
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Postby Tim Dominick on Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:51 am

$20K bought them a show piece they consider to be the centerpiece of their coffee house experience AND a feature story in the NY Times.

You can't put a value on free press where you are presented as cutting edge, especially if you fancy yourself as avant garde and present yourself to your customers that way.

Sitting a fir pitch up the road from SF peering out from behind the redwood curtain, I see the bay area coffee scene heating up and evolving rapidly in new directions. It is exciting to see, and this is yet another new angle for a town that was literally stuck in the rut of the era of the beat generation coffee until quite recently.
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Postby Jeff Givens on Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:30 pm

nick wrote:Nobody is enamored by the $20K. It's just being mentioned.


Well, it is the title of the article. Safe money says that if it wasn't so expensive, an article wouldn't exist.
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Postby Keith on Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:56 pm

ill be in there sunday to give a try.
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Postby Jeff Givens on Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:06 pm

Here's some more press on the siphon brewer: http://www.yahoo.com/s/791954
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Postby Mark Prince on Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:16 pm

Nice stuff. I'm not crazy about the $20K emphasis, but I liked the last bit with the customers (though it seemed cut off)

AP may be doing an interesting coffee brewing article for mass distribution next week.

Mark
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Postby jepy on Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:45 pm

These guys got it right. First class all the way, from the equipment, to the employees nicely dressed giving table service. You walk in and know you're in a different kind of coffee bar. A real education in coffee presentation.
I only had a few minutes to spend there, but what really jumps out is the cold brew tower. I wanted to try it, but before I could ask, they handed me a perfect shot of a S.O. brazil off their La San Marco Lever. Next time..

Some pics:http://www.flickr.com/photos/82921813@N00/?saved=1
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Postby Jaime van Schyndel on Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:19 pm

nick wrote:I don't know that the Clover was "modeled after a vacpot." There are similarities, but I don't think that Zander et al. were looking at a vacpot to automate or PID.

Full immersion brewer, same draw down pressure, comparable dwell time for brew volume, seems like similar physics to me. I demoed vac pots in Bellingham while Zander was demoing the Clover and we discussed it a bit over lunch. I think it was in his own words that he said his affection for syphon shaped the Clover design but feel free to double check that.
nick wrote:That said Jaime, your "we seem much more enamoured with the fact that someone payed 20k for what is essentialy a heating element" and "It then begs the question that if the someone would rather buy a pair of Clovers than get a single vacpot and learn it's physics because it takes too much attention, where are we really?" comments seem like straw-man arguments to me. Nobody is enamored by the $20K. It's just being mentioned. Nobody said they'd rather Clover vs. anything either.

Scan back and evaluate some people's shopping lists and maybe it's a straw man but I'd feel better to be proven wrong. That said Nick, do you think anyone would be cross posting this on multiple forums if it were a cheap setup on butane burners? The price is the selling point and the fact that's it's 'the only one' makes it juicy.

When I'm less tired Nick, I'll post some links to varying stir methods, no english but photos tell it all. It's at least worth trying because they have a whole culture built on manual methods that are worth investigating.


-If you are going to whirlpool it, just use a whisk.
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Postby Jim Saborio on Sat Jan 26, 2008 4:46 am

Jaime van Schyndel wrote:I'll post some links to varying stir methods, no english but photos tell it all. It's at least worth trying because they have a whole culture built on manual methods that are worth investigating.



Worthy of its own post. Please do.
-JIm

...aaannndd the Starbucks down the street just got a Clover
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Postby Jaime van Schyndel on Sat Jan 26, 2008 7:22 am

Ben put these together while I was sleeping so here you go...

handpour:
http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/black-bean/article?mid=189&prev=196&next=145&l=f&fid=7

large size (2000cc) handpour:
http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/black-bean/a ... &l=f&fid=7

vac #1 (circular):
http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/black-bean/a ... &l=f&fid=7

vac #2 (circular):
http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/black-bean/a ... &l=f&fid=7

vac #3 (zigzag #1):
http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/black-bean/a ... &l=f&fid=7

vac #4 (press #1):
http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/black-bean/a ... &l=f&fid=7

vac#5 (cross-zigzag):
http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/black-bean/a ... &l=f&fid=7

vac#6 (press #2):
http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/black-bean/a ... &l=f&fid=7

There are some much more advanced ones out there but these are some bare basics. No Mr. Miyagi zen here guys, sorry. The vac method I like the most involves waiting for the temp to stabilize before adding coffee and the stir motion is based on a heavier dose than you see in these videos.

The methods get really detailed by some of the top end 'barista' here demoed by Saueshen. I wish I had a top level vac pot video but I'll wait until next week and get one. Each method has some logic behind it based on each coffee and specific roast style so it's not so much art as it is calculated decisions and a little muscle memory.
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Postby ypoedza on Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:54 am

i seriously doubt that james bought and designed his whole shop around the siphon brewers because they cost 20k. i would assume that he was willing to pay that kind of money only because it makes amazing coffee and is an engaging process for customers to watch.

obviously the price is what people understand and becoming a big part of the marketing but that doesn't mean thats why they did it.
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Postby Jaime van Schyndel on Sat Jan 26, 2008 8:03 pm

Someone sent me this and asked me to share it.

http://www.youtube.com:80/watch?v=o3o1mMMTqfc
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Postby Chris Baca on Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:51 pm

Checked it out today along with a bunch of folks from Barefoot. Place was PACKED...it's much smaller than it appears in photos. Really well done, although it was hard to get an overall feel for the place because of how crowded it was. Went straight for the syphon bar and rocked some Nicaragua Vasquez COE. It seems like a nice coffee although they tend to roast a bit darker than I fancy...it was served table-side with a little cookie. I was hopping for some cold brew but they were all out.

The space is visualy amazing but as far as coffee talk, there wasn't much going on. We watched our vac-pot being made and it could have been a great opportunity for our barista to really get in depth in explaining the coffees and engage us as customers but it didn't happen. I must admit that we are guilty of this too; when it's crazy busy sometimes you slip and start just making coffee and forget that you also have the opportunity to really educate the consumer. It was opening weekend for them and they we're slammed so I understand. Everyone was probably overwhelmed, I know I would be! Overall it's a really rad place and I look forward to drinking many a cup there...the Blue Bottle cats are all really down and the new space seems like it will only help foster more community in the Sucka Free.

Here's some pics:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisbaca/

And a syphon video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KSWyazUTOM
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Postby Jeff Givens on Sun Jan 27, 2008 9:35 am

As far as I know, the halogen heating units aren't UL listed when they come from Japan. I wonder how they dealt with that challenge.
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Postby James Hoffmann on Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:28 am

Jaime van Schyndel wrote:Each method has some logic behind it based on each coffee and specific roast style so it's not so much art as it is calculated decisions and a little muscle memory.


I'd like to know a little bit more about this? My first thought was that more stirring equals more extraction (if you'll allow to talk very simply) but is that what you aiming to effect with different techniques? For example with a lighter roast of a dense coffee would you stir/agitate more to get a fuller extraction than you would from a more fragile darker roast of a lower grown coffee?
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Postby Keith on Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:35 pm

I went and checked out the new Blue Bottle on sunday afternoon. As far as the taste of the siphon coffee...I am with Andi...it was awesome. We ordered Idido and Oromia and it was amazing.
The place was a ZOO though, and it took ALONG time to get our coffee. We went in around 2 and the Siphon Bar Operator was on break and they told us if we would like to come back and try it to give him a half hour or so. We came back a good while later and it took 45 minutes to get our coffee after ordering it. The place was PACKED with folks that I seem to think based on conversations were there because they had read the New York Times article. There were so many cameras and camera phones taking pictures of the 20,000 dollar machine and the brew tower that you would have thought Brittney was behind the bar.
The "coffee tourists" seemed to be thrilled to witness the brewer in action, but none seemed too thrilled on the wait, and interestingly enough alot of them seemed to add milk to it which looks really gross to me in the clear glass cups they serve the coffee in.
Congrats to James and Blue Bottle on their new location.
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Re: NYTimes: Blue Bottle, SF, Japanese Syphon Bar

Postby onocoffee on Thu Feb 07, 2008 3:29 am

Now that I'm back in the United States and recovering from illness, the vacpots at Ray's have been on my mind and I'm thinking "Road Trip."

After doing a quick search, I've found a Ray's Coffee & Tea House on North 9th Street in Chinatown. It's a Taiwanese restaurant? Is this correct?

If so, I will have to visit there very soon!
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Re: NYTimes: Blue Bottle, SF, Japanese Syphon Bar

Postby Aaron Ultimo on Thu Feb 07, 2008 5:36 am

That's the one. It's kinda weird, but it's right in the middle of Chinatown. There isn't really a whole lot of hooplah surrounding the siphon bar. It's just there.
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Re: NYTimes: Blue Bottle, SF, Japanese Syphon Bar

Postby malachi on Sat Feb 09, 2008 6:32 pm

Gorgeous space, great concept.
Gonna be a huge success for them.
Location + concept + demographics = money

The coffee was acceptable. The espresso was decent.
The toast with butter and marmalade was better than the coffee or the espresso.
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