My body is nothing more than a mechanism for processing caffeine and beer. Actually, the folks at Gawker said something much worse. But fuck those guys. If they’re so smart, why haven’t they unionized yet? Anyhoo, I love good coffee, but I’ll even drink the slime at the Shell station because, you know, addiction doesn’t give a fuck.
Yet there’s no reason to drink bad coffee given the wide variety of caffeine delivery systems. Coffee drinkers, like potheads, have come up with a staggering number of ways to extract the feel-good chemicals from a simple agricultural product. Many of these transcend mere function and are as beautiful and entertaining to watch as, say, a small brotherhood of grizzly bears gang raping Lou Dobbs.
The best of these, both in terms of flavor and fun, is the vacuum pot, or siphon brewing system. While you don’t see them that frequently here, they’re somewhat more common in Japan. Vac pots—unlike a proprietary $4000 pod-based espresso maker—have been around forever. Or at least for about 160 years. Much like a bicycle, it is absolute mechanical perfection.
You dump coffee (freshly ground) in the top chamber, water in the bottom, and set it on the stove. The stove heats the water, causing pressure to force the liquid up into the top chamber, where it mixes with the grounds. Kill the heat, and the lower chamber starts to cool, creating a vacuum down there. That sucks the water back down again, passing through a filter on the way. You end up with a smooth, delicate brew with little to no bitterness; certainly one of the best ways to draw out the flavors of an individual bean.
And while you can fork out for them—the Japanese system at Blue Bottle cost a cool $20K—you can also snag one on eBay for about $50.