coffee klatch: blue bottle

The sudden spring weather that’s forced crocus and daffodil into blooming all over NYC  isn’t the only reason to rejoice this week:  Oakland’s Blue Bottle Coffee Co. has finally flowered below-stairs along the Rockefeller Center concourse. The arrival of the Bay-area culti-roaster known for its devotional handling of single-origin beans is welcome news for Midtown, which despite an oppressively dense concentration of office drones has til now sported just a single coffee shop of note, the Swedish import Fika. (And more on that sliver of Nordic Nirvana in a future post.) Even more unexpected at yesterday’s opening was the noticeable lack of lines – though I expect that’s just an accident of calm before the storm. This is, after all, primo coffee – with primo prices to match. Yet it’s an altogether friendlier Blue Bottle, too: when my Yirgacheffe YCFCU pour-over managed to somehow fall through the counter’s antediluvian cracks, an adorable cap-clad barista apologized profusely, offering up cookies and a free beverage on my next visit.  At the hipper-than-thou Williamsburg outpost, I probably would have been upbraided for the inferiority of my boots before being forced to join the back of the line. Forget about letting the proletariat eat cake – let us drink coffee instead. Coffee revolution, welcome to Midtown.

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live blog: perfectly wired

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it’s a bird, it’s a plane ….

 

Actually, no; it’s my new piece of Japanese fetish kitchenalia: a coffee syphon [sic]. I’ve been fascinated by the idea of a coffee siphon since I first visited Blue Bottle in San Francisco.  Their version looked more like a renegade backyard pot still than something suitable for the home brewer, yet there was no denying the wonderfully rounded taste of the coffee.  In Philadelphia for the weekend, I stopped for lunch at a little hole in the wall in Chinatown on the recommendation of a friend.  She said I wouldn’t believe it at first, but their coffee was amazing.  I didn’t – and it was.  Aside from serving up inexpensive and tasty Cantonese food, a small section of the front counter was devoted to a handful of siphons and specialty coffees, like Jamaican Blue Mountain and a Japanese charcoal roast I had never heard of before.  The diminutive proprietress took pains to explain the entire process as she performed it before serving the coffee in tea cups laid out formally on a tray with accompaniments.  It was a little like witnessing a tea ceremony without the geisha. I love a good ritual and knew I’d be hooked from the moment she started to fresh-grind the beans.  The  resulting brew was dark and steamy, with a faintly acidic bitterness from the charcoal roasting.  This was no morning java jolt but more like a digestif.  At $6 a cup – and $70 a pound – I wasn’t about to start experimenting with that particular roast but I did opt to indulge myself with a new toy. Stay tuned for future updates as I expound on the ritual of the coffee siphon along with what I’m sure will be a multitude of experiments, too.

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