News & Culture in Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Points Nearby
January 18, 2021
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Food + Drink

Video: Karloff’s Rare Japanese Joe

By Lisa M. Collins

We love this video about Karloff’s rare, delicious siphon coffee so much we’re leaving it up — though Karloff is now Kitchen at Cobble Hill, and is a totally new and different restaurant. Here’s a big shout out to the film-maker, Aaron Rosenbloom, who did a knock-out job, as did his video editor buddy, Tom Pina. Thanks to both for providing such a visual treat.

Rosenbloom is a filmmaker who has lived in Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Carroll Gardens since 2005 (he helped us film and create the Italian procession video). He’s directed music videos, commercials and documentaries, and is currently the executive producer for the production company, Bucks Boys.

Tom Pina, who edited the Karloff video, is a recent graduate of Quinnipiac University. He’s got a B.A. in Media Production with minors in Interactive Digital Design and Philosophy. Pina calls himself an amateur filmmaker “with the hopes of one day becoming an editor.”

Nice work Aaron and Tom.


And now for the story, dated back in 2011:

Observing Olga Shishko, owner of Karloff Cafe on Court Street, make a siphon coffee is an engrossing affair: for her, and for the person watching. There’s a big glass beaker of sorts and glass bulbs and tubes that fit into each other, a place for the coffee grounds to sit above the water and a firing element with a little brass valve, boiling bubbles and a foam-vacuum-suction that occurs. Every step is timed exactly—two minutes for this, one minute 20 seconds for that, then stir, then mix, another minute-10-seconds… and viola: Out pours a transcendent, rich and bold cup of coffee. Hot.

Siphoning — a complex, exacting five-minute method of brewing a single cup of coffee — is rare to find in New York City. It’s expensive, the parts are easy to break, and it’s labor intensive: the person making the cup must not only stand still for five minutes, but they must focus. It’s an ancient process from the old tea houses of Japan, and not so rare in that country. In Manhattan, you can order a $20 cup of siphon coffee with dessert table service at one of the city’s top eateries, 11 Madison Park, but that’s about it.

In Brooklyn, you can order a $5 cup of siphoned coffee at Karloff and watch with pleasure as Olga or one of her baristas gets all chemistry-experiment.

The result is a full-bodied cup of brew; not heavy or thick, but clean and almost light. The quick high boil and vacuum-suction filtering bring out the rich flavors of the roasted African beans that Karloff offers for the process. You can even taste a trace of the tomato and vegetables that Olga says were grown on the particular plot of soil before coffee was planted there.

Teresa von Fuchs, of Dallis Bros. Coffee, the second-oldest coffee roaster in NYC (est. 1913), located in Ozone Park, Queens, introduced the siphon process to Karloff.

“There’s not really any place that uses it with regularity,” in the city, except for a Japanese coffee shop in Soho, von Fuchs says. Her company services hundreds of city restaurants and coffee shops, and for years created the signature blend of Gramercy Tavern, before such a thing was the rage.

“It’s such a sweet method to make coffee,” von Fuchs said. “The coffee comes out with a very clean, very clear quality. It’s pretty rare anywhere.”

It’s not just the “cool science” that makes siphoning special, von Fuchs says. “It produces a very specific cup of coffee.”

Many places just don’t have the staff to make siphoning a cup of joe possible.

“I love places like Karloff that are willing to try it, and appreciate the showmanship of it.”

Not many people know to order a Japanese siphon coffee at Karloff. Give it a whirl. Sit, relax, and then tell us what you think.

More on Karloff.

254 Court St., near Kane

(347) 689-4279

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