Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jaho Coffee and Tea: Kyoto Drip Iced Coffee

I would call my ability to judge coffee at about the same level as my ability to call wine. I can identify major flavor notes, I can appreciate a fine cup of coffee and tell whether it's complex, and I can definitely call out a really shitty cup of joe. As it happens, we are still experiencing a patch of severe weather up in Massachusetts, what's left over from "Hurricane Irene," which wasn't nearly as bad as what we thought we were going to get. But it looks like the power is flickering out all over the state and I'm a little reluctant to fire up the stove and start writing about some hurricane fare. So today's entry is going to be about a really fantastic cup of iced coffee that I had yesterday at Jaho Coffee and Tea on Wharf Street in Salem.
Since everyone was busy ransacking the local Shaws and Stop and Shops for Wonder Bread and milk yesterday, all of the tourist areas in Salem , including the area down by Pickering Wharf were fairly deserted. This was a perfect opportunity to pop into Jaho for a wonderful cup of coffee.
Jaho is kind of a trendy little coffee shop, but it just so happens they also make incredible coffee. Their oldest location is on Derby Street, and is a quick stop on your list of all the tourist spots to grab a coffee and a sandwich. The newer location, located in the old Russian Society building on Wharf Street is much more spectacular. After entering through a small front room, one ventures to the larger back room. The counter is stacked from the front of the room all the way to the back with what looks like contraptions that Mr. Wizard would utilize of to concoct his favorite cup of coffee. They're actually quite beautiful; glass and wooden stacked spheres and tubing that each produce fabulous, robust cups of coffee. The most impressive of the contraptions are the two tall stacks which are used to produce Kyoto-style drip iced coffee.
Kyoto style drip coffee takes hours to make. A large orb at the top of the mechanism carefully and slowly drips out water into a cylinder filled with coffee grounds. As the drops of water make their way through the coffee, they are saturated with the flavor of the beverage, eventually making their way into a container at the very bottom of the device. I had been told that it can take upwards of fifteen hours to make one pot of the iced coffee. But boy was it worth it.
My kind server brought over my iced coffee after pouring the last batch into a tall glass with a healthy heap of crushed ice. It was cold, refreshing, not at all bitter, and this must be attributed to the fact that it took so much time to journey through those tubes and through the coffee grains. The liquid was even a touch sweet without any sugar. It was nutty and rich and robust, while still very earthy with the dark roasted grounds of coffee. This was the finest cup of iced coffee that I've ever had, and also one of the most expensive at about four dollars and change. But, enjoying my iced coffee in a basically deserted setting in the little coffee house, I left a little more relaxed, a little more awake, and generally ready for anything the hurricane could send my way...which luckily for the North Shore, wasn't all that bad. Take some time to get to Jaho and enjoy this beverage while the summer weather, storm warning or not, is holding out.

Jaho Coffee & Tea
60 Wharf Street
Salem, MA 01970

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