Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ghetto Siphon Coffee

Several months ago I read an article in New York Times about a $20,000 Japanese siphon bar at Blue Bottle Cafe in San Francisco.

A siphon bar or vacuum coffee maker uses vapor pressure & vacuum force to brew coffee. Many believes this would give coffee a cleaner, crisp, rich & smooth taste.

As a coffee aficionado myself, I believe the attraction to siphoned coffee is purely based on placebo effect.

To prove my point, I have built my own vacuum coffee maker for using only a moka pot & a glass salt shaker. Of course, you can also purchase a Bodum Santos for less than $100, but where is the fun in that?

My total cost was much lower than $20,000. Granted, I did not have fancy glass globe as the water reservoir.

After filling moka pot's boiler with water, I placed empty salt shaker over the top & coffee ground around it.


Similar to regular siphon coffee maker, water has expanded after heating & traveled upward into the upper chamber.

After removing the moka pot away from heat source, brewed coffee siphons back into lower chamber as it cools.

Voila! Now you can also enjoy the same kaleidoscopic beverage all the pretentious hipsters are raging about.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Would You Pay to Watch an Infomercial?

Five fellow colleagues and I attended a what supposedly to be time management seminar today, however it turned out to be a seven hours long infomerical.

It was presented by National Seminars Group, a division of Rockhurst University Continuing Education Center, Inc.

For the entire day (9am to 3:30pm), the speaker has spent a maximum of two hours going through the topics in the workbook. Even with that, very little time was spend on covering time management. Rest of the time, he strongly suggested audience to purchase supplemental material, such as books & CDs. I actually felt like I was attending a pyramid scheme meeting.

Here are somethings that bothered me the most from my seminar experience:

1. Random "facts from studies" & " studies have shown" without clarifying the context. These so-called "facts from studies" only benefited his sales of supplemental material. He never explained why findings from other studies were wrong or incorrect.

2. Chitty & chatty, lack of clear objective, talking in circles. It is good to use scenarios to engage audience. When the seminar speaker start to pull out social & culture cliche to fill the time, he is wasting my valuable time.

3. Lost of Creditability. At one point while trying to hype up his sales pitch, he actually said: "these materials are only available through us, you can't get them from" Which is a complete LIE! As a test, I found not only the books are available & one of the books, Lifescripts, was actually 35% cheaper at