Despite conference requirements and torrential downpours flooding the streets of S.F. while we were there, I still managed to make three fabulous trips to the Blue Bottle Cafe at 8, 9 and 11 days of being open to the public. Located sneakily at the corner of Mint & Jessie (between Mission and Market @ 5th), this little gem had the ambiance and the coffee to make a 45 minute trip into town for a caffeinated beverage seem not at all ridiculous. You can purchase some of their coffee online as well, which is wonderful - but not at all the same.
This basement-of-Frankenstein looking contraption here is for iced coffee. It takes some 10-11 hours to cold drip through the grounds into the carafes below. I've never tasted iced coffee before WITHOUT sugar. This was amazing.
But the siphon brew is really what I came for. Stupidly I tried to film the process, but held the camera sideways again, and with the poor lighting - it really came out terrible. Below is the NY Times photo of the siphon bar. What happens is more or less this: 1) "bulb" of water is heated over a halogen plate, 2) grounds are put into a cylinder that has a narrow base with a filter and a chain of some sort, 3) when water is hot enough, cylinder of coffee grounds is put on top and stirred while water bubbles its way up the chain into the cylinder through the grounds, 4) a vacuum is created in the bulb, it is removed from the halogen heat, and the vacuum sucks the coffee back down, 5) you drink it and marvel at how distinctly different coffee tastes made this way!