Sam James welcomed me into his one room wonder and offered me a glass, for water, to tap from a big ceramic cooler. Already liked the place. I was waiting for one of my oldest friends to meet me there in between our East vs. West end stompin’ grounds. We share in the delights of food and drink and have recently realized that we both like to socialize on weekend mornings while everyone else is sleeping in. Get in an hour with a good friend, a good cup of coffee, and then go about your day. (I’m becoming an expert at this it seems; almost 10,000 hours!)
We chose Sam James Coffee Bar to check out what all the fuss was about regarding Siphon Coffee. We ordered for two (About $8.00). Sam cordially took us through the whole process. First we sniffed the Ethiopian Sidamo beans…blueberry and dark chocolate aroma. Sam ground the beans by hand, to a coarse grind, which he then tossed into the upper chamber in the sci-fi contraption that would bubble and boil to brew our morning cuppa. An unbleached cotton filter kept the coffee above the belt. Bunsen burning blue, the water below heats its way up to the upper chamber and when that little blue flame is removed, the brewed coffee makes it decent back into the vacuum of the flask below. It looks really grade twelve chemistry cool. I’m not sure if the cool kids would get it, though… this is the geekiest coffee around! I felt cool drinking it, though, but then again, I’m a geek and so is Jon, my date. The flavours were really quite dynamic, and subtle. The cotton filter allows the oils through, but they don’t keep cooking because the coffee isn’t over heat when it’s sucked back down. Unlike Cone Filter, the coffee is brewed fully immersed, so none of the coffee grounds get over- or under- extracted, it’s even the whole way through. And unlike the French press, it’s filtered after the brew, and sediment is non-existent. Flavour develops further as the coffee cools down. It’s not as astringent as an espresso, nor as dark, or heavy. The consistency is thin, smooth. There isn’t a hint of sediment to mess with the dance that happens on your tongue. Call me crazy, but I thought it tasted a bit like Jerusalem Artichokes, and a bit watery for my Americano orientation, but I did like the showiness of it all! Thanks Sam for taking the time to show us how it’s done. Good thing the cafe is right on a major bicycle thoroughfare… I know where I’m stopping on my travels eastbound from now on, when I can make the time.
Check out Sam’s tutorial in this VIDEO