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Coffee, Tea or Me? Part 1.Category: Food Porn   Jul 18th 2013  11:45AM   0

My date and I sat at the Hiroko's Place counter for a front row view of the magic.

75 Thompson St
(between Broome St & Spring St)
New York, NY 10012
(212) 625-1303

An gentleman caller from out of town asked me to show him around NYC; he particularly was interested in visiting unique enclaves in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood in Manhattan known for...well...unique enclaves. Coincidentally, we both had a burgeoning interest in the Third Wave Coffee Movement; a concept that values high quality coffee as a complex, artisanal craft similar to wine or gourmet food. 

If you're looking for some light summer reading about coffee, check out the following volumes:

Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee & How it Transformed the World by Mark Pendergrast (so much for light reading...)

Starbucked: A Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce & Culture by Taylor Clark (recommended by Starbucks lovers and haters alike)

The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee by James Freeman

Apart from coffee's various origins and flavor profiles, what is most fascinating to me are the various brewing methods. My curosity brought us to Hiroko's Place in the South Village; a Japanese restaurant that does not serve sushi (as per the sign on the door) but will serve you a smooth, lively cup of heaven courtesy of their glass coffee siphons - a brewing technique popular in Japan and Europe.

Watch this video to see the brewing process; it is most engrossing.

We watched like children in a science museum as Mr. Hiroko's daughter prepared our coffee; the boiling water in the bottom chamber climbing up into the top chamber as it heated. When the water was hot enough - just under 300 degrees our server explained - she poured our freshly ground selections into the top chamber, stirring it with a whisk. After politely booting an over-inquistive caller off the phone with an, "I'm sorry ma'am but I must attend to the coffee before it burns." She gives the chambers another stir, "You only have about 40 seconds before the brew is ruined." Love her dedication to creating a quality product.

When she removed the siphon from the heat, we delighted in watching the brew fall back into the bottom chamber (a result of the cooling of the bottom chamber). After several minutes of waiting for our coffees to be cool enough to drink, my date reached for the creamer. I stopped him, "We must try it black first." He put his cup to his lips and his eyes immediately brightened. "Wow, its strong but very smooth. I never drink black coffee but this is excellent." The selection he chose was called 'Brazil' an "oily" South American blend with notes of roasted nuts and the darkest chocolate.

South American coffees tend to be too bitter and thick for my taste, so I opted for the 'Kilimanjaro,' a pleasant blend of light, smooth and tangy flavors; reminiscent of sour cherries or cranberries. 

We complemented Ms. Hiroko on her coffee to which she replied with a bow and a smile, "Arigato!"

And what a performance she gave. Bravo.


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