The siphon bar makes the best coffee in the world

siphon bar at blue coffee café

I saw the Blue Bottle Coffee kiosk with its long line of customers while visiting the Farmer’s Market. At their kiosk, they prepare coffee with the beehouse ceramic drippers. You can tell that people love the coffee of this artisan micro-roasting company.

But I resisted the temptations because I wanted to try their famous individually made brewed coffee made with a $20,000 machine. So I went to the Blue Bottle Café located at 66 Mint Street, San Francisco (at Jessie Street).

What is the siphon bar?

Each coffee is brewed using two stacked glass globes resting on top of a heater. The technique involves creating a deep whirlpool with a wooden paddle in no more than four turns without touching the glass.

Basically, vapors and variations in temperatures force the coffee up and down. The principle behind the siphon bar share similarities with the stovetop espresso maker except that the siphon bar requires human assistance several times in the process as you can see by watching my video.

As our coffee maker Vien told us, you can learn the basics on how to operate the siphon bar quickly. But mastering the different settings is a long learning process. Only through the hands of a master that the siphon bar produces the most memorable coffee.

Tasting a siphon coffee

A cup of siphon coffee is very delicate, with no after taste, and you get none of the residues typical of French pot coffee. The taste is much smoother than regular coffee. You can taste the subtlety of the coffee beans.

For that reason, the siphon coffee is never made with blend. You want to be able to taste the specificities of single-origin beans. As I understand, you cannot taste that with an espresso because the espresso is brewed too quickly. To taste the different flavor levels, the coffee needs to be brewed slowly. And slowly it is since making one siphon coffee pot of 2 cups takes 5 minutes.

Blue Bottle Café serves only certified organic coffee beans that they roasted themselves. I tasted the Gololcha, a dry-processed Ethiopian coffee with two distinct flavor layers: fruity on top, with a beautiful thick rustic body. I enjoyed it! I sipped it without and with milk to see if we could still taste the subtlety of the coffee. I did.

I am telling you, I drank the best coffee of my life last Saturday. My husband wanted to go back 2 hours later.

Learn more: Blue Bottle Coffee Co.

  • Jerome Paradis
    March 3, 2008 at 08:40

    The siphon bar coffee was really the best coffee I ever had. It beats espresso in my book. Each sip was a an experience of flavor that was changing but also lasting. Hard to describe, but memorable!

  • Treasa
    March 3, 2008 at 21:42


    i love this post about BBCC. I know those guys personally, and make ginger scones for their Hayes Valley Kiosk. if you ever get a chance to check out their kiosk in Hayes Valley, its definitely worth it. Its where BB started! in a garage on Linden Alley. definitely love at first sip 🙂

  • At Home with Kim Vallee
    March 4, 2008 at 01:06

    Treasa: As I was making my morning coffee, you can tell your friends that I was missing the BBCC coffee. I regret not bringing back a couple bags of beans. I will make sure to check out their Hayes Valley Kiosk, even if it is just for nostalgia.

  • Web 2.0 Places
    April 21, 2008 at 20:04

    I don’t remember when I first heard of Blue Bottle Café, but ever since Kevin Rose raved about it on twitter (or was it Chris Messina constantly talking about it?) the word has been going around the twitterverse… Kim also…