Photo: Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

There’s always one kind of post that I’ll always post on Doobybrain, and that kind of post is anything on obnoxiously priced goods. Such is the case with this $20,000 coffee maker.

At the Blue Bottle Café in San Francisco, you can order up a cup of brewed coffee from the only halogen-powered Japanese siphon bar in the United States. This exclusive cup of coffee from this incredibly exclusive coffee bar just about guarantees you the best tasting cup of brewed coffee you’ve ever had. Or at least that’s what the owner, James Freeman, hopes to accomplish.

Photos: Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

This is basically how the Japanese siphon bar works:

A siphon pot has two stacked glass globes, and works a little like a macchinetta, that stove-top gadget wrongly called an espresso maker by generations of graduate students. As water vapor forces water into the upper globe the coffee grounds are stirred by hand with a bamboo paddle. (In Japan, siphon coffee masters carve their own paddles to fit the shape of their palms.)

The goal is to create a deep whirlpool in no more than four turns without touching the glass. Posture is important. So is timing: siphon coffee has a brewing cycle of 45 to 90 seconds.

Check out more photos of the step-by-step coffee brewing process with a Japanese siphon bar.


Man, these coffee machines make my home coffee brewer feel obsolete! I’d like to taste some coffee from Blue Bottle Café myself to see what the difference is and whether it’s worth all the trouble.