Wednesday, August 4, 2010

More Than One Way to Brew a Cup of Coffee: Roaster Family Coffee

I had hoped to meet my morning caffeine quota with jasmine tea from Lunasia (my current favorite non-cart dim sum restaurant). But when I learned the wait for tea and dim sum was 45 minutes, I dragged my un-caffeinated self across the street for a quick cup of java at Roaster Family Coffee.

I expected the barista to serve a cup from a pot or urn. Instead, she measured and ground fresh beans. Just for me. What came next was even more surprising. I was familiar with percolating, pressing and dripping methods for brewing coffee. Roaster Family Coffee uses a siphon brewing method. Invented in 1840, the brewing contraption looks like something from an antebellum mad scientist's lab.


Clockwise from top left: 1) Grind beans. 2) Place beans in vessel over pot of water. 3) Water vapor forces hot (but not boiling) water from the pot into the vessel. 4) See how the vessel is filling up? Alchemy or physics?

1) A quick stir 2) Physics in action again: When heat is turned off, coffee returns to pot. 3) Fresh siphon-brewed coffee 4) Elegant service in a china cup for just $1.80.


The brewing method might be so two centuries ago, but the heating method - a halogen burning system - is 21st century.




The decor is a lot like the brewing system - a mix of the old and new.

How was the coffee? Strong and rich without a trace of acidity or bitterness. Come for the show, but stay for the coffee.

Roaster Family Coffee
521 W Main St.
Alhambra
, CA 91801
626. 282.8879

713 W Duarte Rd.
Suite F

Arcadia, CA 91007
626.447.2538

For more information about syphon-brewed coffee, visit the Coffee Geek or the New York Times.

Coffee on FoodistaCoffee

17 comments:

Jean Spitzer said...

I think my favorite part--and the most surprising--is the halogen burner. Very nifty.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

omg, that is so cool!. what a great show, i bet that coffee was good

Barbara Fleeman said...

Very cool! Would love to hear more about Lunasia, too!

Susan Campisi said...

Wow, that sounds fantastic! What an exciting way to drink coffee. I can't wait to try it.

pasadenapio said...

This is the first time I've ever seen a siphon brewin system. It appeals to the mad scientist in all of us!

Susan C said...

Jean, I agree. I couldn't get over the fact that such a tiny bulb could produce heat so quickly.

KBF, Yes, the coffee was yummy. And, of course, it always tastes better when you drink from a pretty cup.

Barbara, Lunasia is in the former location of Triumphal Palace on Main St. It's my current fave, but I still need to try Elite, a Yelp fave.

Susan, Seems like we're always tailing each other in comments in our other favorite blogs, huh? Always love reading your comments.

PIO, Me too. It was like, "Why don't I know about this." Bah ha ha. (That's my mad scientist laugh.)

Idelle said...

Coffee's my thing! Good to know about Lunasia!

Alisa said...

How interesting,that's a whole new coffee experience.Great photos.If you won't mind I'd love to guide Foodista readers to this post.Just add the foodista widget to the end of this post and it's all set, Thanks!

Susan C said...

Idelle, Didn't know that coffee was "your thing."

Alisa, Thanks for letting me know about the Foodista site. I followed the directions, but it said that it takes a couple hours to add the widget.

Petrea said...

I've been off coffee for a while, but I can't wait to get back "on." I know what my first stop will be.

Karen said...

We wandered into Intelligensia on Colorado Blvd. last night and saw that they seem to have the siphon system going there, too.

Must be the new thing in coffee. We didn't try it, but it smelled great in there.

altadenahiker said...

The pictures sold me.

Mary said...

I love places like that cafe. The siphon,however, started me giggling. I had a vision of one sitting in my kitchen at 5 a.m. with me in robe playing mad scientist in order to brew a cup of coffee. I've never seen coffee brewed this way. I'm sure it is delicious but it sure sounds like a lot of work :-). Have a fantabulous day. Blessings...Mary

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I like the way you give a full accounting of this joint. For instance the chairs...I hate tinney chairs. You know, where one leg always wobbles. These are good solid colonial. Plus it's nice to hear a positive plug for Alhambra. Growing up. living adjacent to the east end of Pasadena, we had a tendency to go south into Alhambra. As a result, I have a fondness for that city (plus I've been going to their outdoor market for years)

btw: did you get the whole pot for a $1.80? that alone would sell me

Barbara Roth said...

Antebellum Mad Scientist coffee making! Thanks for clueing me in. I thought I was hot stuff because I bought a French press. I must have done something wrong when I used it though, because my coffee tasted strongly of plastic. Glad to see you are continuing to find and share amazing things with your readers.

Cafe Observer said...

Your brewing method reminds me of a birthday gift a foodie gf treated me to at LaMill Coffee Boutique in Silverlake last yr. It was sooo goood I could actually enjoy the coffee BLACK!! It was also pricey but worth it!

The Fit Reality Chick said...

I've never seen anything like it - very cool!! Thanks - I love learning about interesting things like this!