$20,000 Coffee Just Tastes Better ~ BitterSweetLife

Thursday, January 24, 2008

$20,000 Coffee Just Tastes Better

Admittedly, I find this ridiculous. Now if the machine made espresso as well, maybe I could see it. However, if there was a $20,000 zen-powered coffee machine in my area, I would have to try a cup... From the New York Times:

WITH its brass-trimmed halogen heating elements, glass globes and bamboo paddles, the new contraption that is to begin making coffee this week at the Blue Bottle Café here looks like a machine from a Jules Verne novel, a 19th-century vision of the future.

Called a siphon bar, it was imported from Japan at a total cost of more than $20,000. The cafe has the only halogen-powered model in the United States, and getting it here required years of elliptical discussions with its importer, Jay Egami of the Ueshima Coffee Company.

“If you just want equipment you’re not ready,” Mr. Egami said in an interview. But, he added, James Freeman, the owner of the cafe, is different: “He’s invested time. He’s invested interest. He is ready.”

Professionals have long been willing to pay prices in the five figures for the perfect espresso machine, but the siphon bar does not make espresso. It makes brewed coffee, as does another high-end coffee maker, the $11,000 Clover, which makes one cup at a time. Together, they signal the resurgence of brewing among the most obsessive coffee enthusiasts.

A large slice of the article actually talks about the Clover--at a mere $11,000, it's a real deal--and I hope to make a down payment on a home model next month. Just kidding. However, the Roasterie Cafe in Brookside, about 20 minutes from us, does have a Clover--which is a real treat, since Kansas City isn't quite the mecca of coffee and espresso fanaticism that New York is. Give it a few more years, though... I think it's pretty cool that "mere" brewed coffee is not being regarded as inferior to espresso:
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...

“You get more of the delicate and floral flavors, the subtle sweetness, the notes of perfume and citrus,” said Duane Sorensen, the owner of Stumptown. “The delicate, pretty, sexy flavors show in a Clover.”

I love espresso, but I've maintained my loyalty to brewed coffee as well, so I'm happy to hear this point being made. If you're one of those people who thinks "the only reason to drink coffee is the caffeine"--stop buying Folgers and discover this thing called your palate. :) Finding a cafe with a Clover may be your ticket out of coffee hell.

HT: Six O'Clock Vintage
Photos property of NYT.



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5 comments:

Will Robison said...

Sorry to burst your bubble, but you misunderstood the article. It said that it cost $20,000 to get here from Japan. That was $59.95 plus $19,940.05 for shipping and handling. Its the cost of fuel, you know. ;)

Dan said...

Have you ever tried a Nespresso machine? Pretty dang good espresso. Friends of mine have the LeCube with an Aeroccino to make perfectly foamed milk. (http://www.nespresso.com/). Much less expensive than $20k... I would recommend your first Nespresso tasting with good biscuits and Nutella to spread. BAM!

Ariel said...

It said that it cost $20,000 to get here from Japan. That was $59.95 plus $19,940.05 for shipping and handling.

That explains it... I thought 20k was overkill for a machine made with bamboo paddles. Talk about planned obsolescence.

Have you ever tried a Nespresso machine?

I haven't, although that brand sounds familiar. I do have a beautiful Solis SL 70 that makes great espresso and froths milk like a...like a...like a dairy cow who went to culinary school and became a world-class chef.

I may have to devote a post to the Solis, since it's a recent acquisition that will have an obvious effect on the joyfulness and lucidity of the blog... :)

swag said...

Let's see... a reporter who was unaware that vacuum pot brewed coffee has been around for decades... who knows so much about coffee, that the only constructive thing he could think to write was to create some eye-popping lump sump for shock value that tosses in training, the individual glass vac pots that go with it, the halogen bulbs, etc.

Yeah. $59.95 alright.

And yes, I've tried the Nespresso. Watery, sickly crema, and pretty much everything else I would expect from stale, pre-ground beans that have been oxidizing for weeks upon arrival. Good for enemas though.

Ariel said...

a reporter who was unaware that vacuum pot brewed coffee has been around for decades... who knows so much about coffee, that the only constructive thing he could think to write was to create some eye-popping lump sump for shock value that tosses in training, the individual glass vac pots that go with it, the halogen bulbs, etc.

Yeah, I hear you... you've got to admit, the price tag is what's going to turn the most heads, though. To be fair, the rest of the article does a good job explaining the rationale behind shelling out the bucks, IMO. Not much detail on the imported machine, but lots about the Clover.

 

Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife