Retail Store meets Espresso Bar at Elite Audio Systems

Quick post – check out these pictures I took at the new cafe in SOMA serving up Blue Bottle Espresso.  Not only can you get wired on some velvety smooth roasted bean from the big blue, but you can also try out the latest in audio equipment to amplify your Fleet Foxes download on your iPhone.

Kind of a mix of the new and old here.


Blue Bottle in NYC

The San Francisco Ferry Plaza’s famous Blue Bottle coffee has been popping up in coffee shops all over San Francisco.  It’s served at The Summit SF in the mission and Elite Audio SF in SOMA.  But now it seems that NYC, a city more known for having a Starbucks on every corner than for artisan single origin espresso roasts, will be having a new cafe serving up the big blue bean.  Check it out below.

Blue Bottle Arrives in Manhattan With a Dramatic New Coffee Bar


In 2008, Blue Bottle Coffee turned heads in San Francisco when it unveiled a halogen-powered siphon bar. On Saturday, Blue Bottle will introduce New York to the theatrical coffeemaker when it opens its newest shop in a former loading dock on the ground floor of Milk Studios in Chelsea.

This will be Blue Bottle’s seventh location nationwide, and the first in Manhattan. (A Blue Bottle coffee stand operates on the High Line from April to November.) The new shop is divided into two parts: In front is a coffee bar equipped with all the gear New Yorkers have come to expect in this era of obsessively crafted coffee: a Strada (for cappuccinos, Gibraltars and other espresso drinks, plus single origin espresso), filter cones (where coffee will be brewed one cup at a time) and cold-brewers (for iced coffee). A glass case will hold pastries baked at Blue Bottle’s roaster and coffee bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

But walk up a short flight of maple stairs to the austere mezzanine in back, and you’ll find a thin slice of Tokyo: six stools pulled up to a slab of Carrera marble where coffee is made to order on a siphon or on a nel drip.

For the uninitiated, the siphon looks like a steampunk science experiment, and the drink it produces is so perfumed and delicate that it bends your idea of how coffee can taste. It’s an old method — siphon coffee first came into fashion in 19th century France — that caught on in postwar Japan and evolved into an art form in the coffee bars of Kobe, Kyoto and Tokyo. Japan has held a national siphon championship competition since 2003; it was expanded into a world siphon championship in 2009.

Often siphon coffee is made with an open flame, but the setup at the Blue Bottle is powered by brass-trimmed halogen burners that can be adjusted instantly and accurately. It works a little like a moka pot: a large glass globe is filled with water, a glass tumbler with coffee grounds is fixed on top, and as the water heats up it rises into the upper chamber, where it mixes with the coffee grounds. (The job of the siphonist — that’s the term — is to stir a bamboo paddle gracefully so that the coffee extracts evenly.) As the liquid cools, it filters back into the lower globe, which doubles as a coffee pot after the top chamber is popped off.

Blue Bottle will also offer nel drip coffee, which is made with a thick cotton filter. (A point of vocabulary: “Nel,” as the filter is called in Japan, is short for “flannel,” though outside Japan it is often known as a “woodneck” or a “sock,” one of the least appetizing nouns you could pair with coffee.) Nel drip is like a paper filter drip, only slower. Which is one reason you sit at a counter.

While a handful of other shops and restaurants in New York offer siphon coffee and nel drip, this is one of the first to embrace the full Japanese experience. In another nod to authenticity, the bar in back will also serve thick slices of toasted white bread, jam and butter on the side — just as at Shibuya Station.

Hip V-day app’s for the socially awkward

All you smart phone users out there will be happy to know that there are a bevy of apps to help you over come your social awkwardness and meet that special Valentine this year.  Whether you want to meet someone new with a location based matchmaking service like Grindr (I know, I couldn’t believe they would write about this either), or use a Love Finger Scanner to determine if you are compatible to your blind OKcupid date, or find a poem for that special someone – rest assure, there is an App for that.

Valentine’s Day? There are apps for that

by Patrick May

With Valentine’s Day bearing down on us, app developers have come up with smartphone tools that can do just about anything short of guaranteeing you’ll be head over heads in love by Tuesday.

There are apps for both the valentine-ready (digital flowers, anyone?) and the valentine-hungry, including every type of mobile-dating tool imaginable. These darts in Cupid’s digital quiver, whether they’re for iPhone or Android, free and fee-based, range from sophisticated to silly to downright stupid.

Let’s start with the valentine-challenged. Once you’ve gotten into the mood by downloading Valentine’s Day Fun Facts on your Android and learned about the meaning of the color of roses, it’s time to go find someone you can actually give them to. Got an iPhone? Love your iPhone? Then go straight to Cupidtino, a meet-up app that will put you in touch with other lovers of all things Apple (AAPL).

“We’ve definitely seen a spike in traffic this week because of Valentine’s Day approaching,” says Amol Kelkar, 35, co-founder of the Seattle-based site. “People love the app even more than our website because they’d rather do their date-searching on the go. Plus they’re all Apple fans, so they’ll have plenty to talk about.”

One app firmly focused on the fine art of flirting is San Francisco-based Skout.

“Our app,” says founder Christian Wiklund, “helps inject serendipity into people’s lives.”Use Skout to send virtual flowers, teddy bears or even diamonds. The app’s free, though you pay anywhere from 20 cents to $10 in real money to send those not-so-real roses. Wiklund calls virtual gifts “a great icebreaker. When you get virtual flowers, the recipient has the same feeling as getting a real gift, because someone has sent them something that costs money.”

Skout, which asks a few initial questions to find out what sort of person you’re seeking, is one of a growing number of location-based apps that let you know how far away other app users are from you at any given moment. But in an effort to avoid seeming stalker-like, Skout doesn’t provide exact distances if that person is within a half mile of you.

But Grindr sure does. Because this wildly popular dating app for the gay community tells you if your potential valentine is within feet of you, Grindr makes Skout seem downright tame. “Two feet away?” Just look down the bar. Click the guy’s picture, click ”chat,” and you’re good to go.

“We find that if Valentine’s Day rolls around and you don’t have a valentine then Grindr’s that kick in the butt to remind you that maybe you should find someone,” says Joel Simkhai, founder and CEO of the 3-year-old app, which has both free and fee versions available for the iPhone and Android phones. “So each year around this time, we find a lot of our users go back on the hunt.”

Once you do find a potential date, download Valentine Scanner on your Android or Love Finger Scan on your iPhone. By pressing your and your date’s fingertips to the screen, these apps mysteriously determine how compatible you really are. Don’t ask how they do it. Just believe.

For all of you lucky enough to be in a Valentine-worthy relationship, the app choices are practically endless. Beyond the obvious ones — Godiva Mobile and 1800Flowers to name just two — the romantically inclined could spend a thousand Valentine’s Days wading through this thicket of digital desire.

Kiss My Valentine’s a free Android-only app that lets you set reminders for Valentine gifts and send timed greetings throughout the day to your loved ones in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese.

Wayne Irving, CEO of the app’s maker, Iconosys, says Kiss “was the solution to my own problem. I have three daughters and roughly 20 nieces I feel very close to. I thought, wouldn’t it be great to have an app that automatically sent out Valentine’s Day cards for me, because that’s a lot of postage, plus I’d usually forget half of them.”

Next, download LaDiDa, a cool iPhone app that lets you record a love song karaoke-style, make it sound respectable even if you can’t carry a note, and then send it to the love of your life. For $2.99, you’re made over into a professional singer, thanks to artificial intelligence that corrects the pitch of your voice.

While she or he is enjoying your offering, you’ll be downloading the free Apple Cards app, choosing the “Love” category of course, then creating your own Valentine’s Day card compete with a photo of your awesome mug. With a couple of clicks and a bit of sales tax and shipping, your card will be heading through the U.S. mail by the time he or she is done listening to you croon.

And if that’s not enough saccharine sweetness for one Valentine’s Day, download iWrite: Love Poems and let your 99-cent iPhone app help you compose instant sonnets for your Valentine, or at least come up with computer-generated poems as a fallback.

But you may have to let the computer try several times to get something suitable. A recent test-drive came up with a little dittie that could easily blow up in your face come Tuesday. It goes something like this:

I wish

I could receive

A rare thigh

And place it

On my nectar.