Tendered on a mirror-like tray alongside a spare cup of water and a complimentary dish of nuts and dried fruit, your Wallenford, Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee arrives in a slender glass mug, tawny and fragrant. You are encouraged not to drink it.
This is roughly a third of the way through the coffee ritual at Funnel Mill Coffee and Tea. It began when your chosen blend--say a medium roast Indonesian Celebes Kalossi or Costa Rican Tarrazu for an everyday $3.69, or the exceedingly rare, terroir-driven Panama Geisha for $22--was brewed in a Hario syphon, a process executed with scientific rigor by the Funnel Mill staff. Water is heated in the boiling chamber over an alcohol lamp. Vacuum pressure draws the simmering liquid into the upper chamber where it bathes the grinds for 40-60 seconds before pressure equalizes and the finished coffee shunts back below. The result is elegant and aromatic, bearing no resemblance to pedestrian drip coffee and transforming mere drinkers into acolytes of the bean. When the sign is given and you're permitted to sip, acids, oils and flavor compounds are illuminated and distinct. The brew is so delicate you can almost distinguish the coffee from the soft water that vectors it to your taste buds.
The ritual is complete a hour later when, draped over one of Funnel Mill's overstuffed couches, you savor your cup at room temperature. Your tongue is no longer confounded by heat and the nuances of the bean have fully developed. The Jamaica Blue Mountain is mellow and round, brightly acidic and driven by almond and faint caramel. Such is the protocol for consuming the best syphon coffee in the city. There is no to-go, your time and attention are expected and cream and sugar are banned from the glass.
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Funnel Mill Coffee & Tea: 930 Broadway Suite A, Santa Monica, CA 90401; (310) 393-1617.