'My father would probably turn over in his grave if he knew I paid ten dollars for a cup of ‘Joe’. I did pay 10 dollars at an elite ‘Starbucks Reserve Bar” coffee house for a single cup of coffee. These are not the same stores that you see on every other corner but a special house that serves their premium Starbucks Reserve brand coffee; In their words; “Starbucks Reserve is a selection of the rarest, most extraordinary coffees Starbucks has to offer. It’s where we push our own boundaries of craft, developing a unique roast for each individual lot before experimenting with coffee as an art form”. I do like a good cup of coffee so let’s give it a try.
There are only three Bay Area locations of the Starbucks Reserve Bar and we are in the tony town of Danville California. I almost drove by because the recognizable logo and familiar Starbucks features were not visible from the front of the building. I walked into a warm, comfortable, modern setting. The first thing I saw was the “Siphon” machine. This was going to be a new coffee experience.
Starbucks has a line-up of coffee beans that is trademarked “Starbucks Reserve” These are beans that are rare, roasted daily, small farmed and with limited availability. The menu has different ways of brewing these said beans. There is a ‘pour over’, and the signature ‘Clover’ machine which is a type of industrial ‘French Press” This store also has a unique way of brewing called the ‘Siphon”. I ordered, by the recommendation of the clerk, a cup of Malawi Sable Farms. (Subtle citrus with hints of cedar and ginger accents). This was going to be made by my own personal barista in the Siphon machine. Oh and by the way it was ten dollars for a cup.
My own private barista was named Ferdinand (I just made this name up to protect the baristas identity). He started this intriguing journey by pouring me a glass of sparkling water to clear my palate. I had a front row seat directly in front of the siphon machine. This contraption consists of a unique glass beaker with an upper and lower compartments held over a heat source. The heat source heats the water to 120 degrees. The lower beaker is then closed so that the heat creates a suction vacuum to bring the water to a second chamber on top of the beaker. Ferdinand then poured freshly ground Malawi coffee beans into the hot water. He stirred the mixture, not once, not twice but three times in a 90 second time period to let the coffee steep to perfection. The brewed coffee was released back to the bottom chamber through a filter.
Ferdinand poured the coffee into a silver serving vessel, put it on a wooden serving tray and confidently walked around the corner and presented it to me in grand fashion. He also gave me a miniature coffee mug to savor and smell the aroma. Let me tell you this was one smooth cup of coffee. It did have citrus, hints of cedar and ginger but what I really liked about it was the lack of bitterness. This process removes all bitter compounds.
My ten dollar cup of coffee was an act of edible performance art. It was a very good tasting and possibly one of the finest cups I have ever had. It was mesmerizing watching Ferdinand go through the Siphon process. I enjoyed having my own personal barista. For a couple of minutes I was King of the coffee house. I did enjoy my 10 dollar cup of coffee. Sorry Dad.