If you’re still drinking coffee the old fashioned way (that is, from a machine), then it’s time for an analog upgrade.
Nuvo in Covington is known for inventive tasting menus, but the real surprise comes at the end of the meal, when patrons can order tableside siphon coffee. Chef/owner and all around mad scientist Mark Bodenstein discovered the siphon at a Tennessee café last year. It’s actually a Japanese technique for brewing green tea, but he and the staff tapped Golf Manor roaster Coffee Break to create a five-bean roast to use in the device.
Maybe Breaking Bad has forever ruined us for fancy coffee drinks, but at first glance, a siphon kind of looks like something for cooking meth. It’s really just a simple way to cook coarse grounds using basic physical principles. Water goes in the glassed bottom vessel and the grounds go in the top. This creates a vacuum and hot water gets sucked up and cooks the grounds (unlike drip coffee where water runs over the grounds). The whole process takes four minutes, leaving an oily emulsion on top of the coffee. Once the butane burner heat is removed and the bottom chamber cools, the vacuum releases and the coffee naturally flows to the bottom of the vessel. The result is a smoother, cleaner, less acidic cup of Joe. “When you have coffee done any other style, for me it doesn’t cut the mustard,” Bodenstein says. “This brings out a lot of nuances.”
Back across the river, Collective Espresso uses another Japanese technique in a slow-drip Yama Tower (it looks like a mash-up of an enormous hourglass and a Rube Goldberg experiment).
A mixture of ice and water is placed in the top chamber and medium grounds are placed below it. As Collective Espresso co-owner and coffee cognoscenti Dave Hart explains, the water drips once per second, and the entire process takes eight to ten hours to complete. Which is what we call a serious commitment.
Nuvo, 308 Greenup St., Covington, nuvoatgreenup.com; siphon coffee $5-$10
Collective Espresso, 207 Woodward St., OTR, facebook.com/collectiveespressoOTR; Yama cold brew $4