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Coffee City

Melissa Allison follows the world's biggest coffee-shop chain and other Seattle caffeine purveyors.

December 2, 2010 at 11:44 AM

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Nathan Myhrvold's chapter on coffee blows barista's mind

Posted by Melissa Allison

When it comes to coffee expertise, it takes a lot to impress barista Alex Negranza. He studies and tweets about the java bean and its accompanying libations day and night, including taking a part-time bartending job at Liberty on Capitol Hill that he hopes will inform his understanding of coffee.

But multimillionaire Nathan Myhrvold impressed -- maybe even slightly intimidated -- Negranza with his espresso knowledge at a recent meeting at Vovito Caffe & Gelato in Bellevue. Not knowing what a coffee whiz Myhrvold is -- and who would know, given the time he spends on physics, inventions, gourmet cooking, dinosaurs? -- Negranza started with coffee basics. Myhrvold and his team quickly clarified: They wanted to know about pressure variability on Vovito's sexy Slayer espresso machines, which they photographed for a six-volume $625 food science-slash-cookbook called "Modernist Cuisine" that's been repeatedly delayed and is now expected in March.

Then they sent Negranza a copy of their coffee chapter, which he says is one of the best treatises on coffee he's ever read. "I could use it as a training manual," he said. And this is the guy who's hard to impress.

Apologies for not getting a photo of Negranza, but here's Vovito, at the Bravern, which happens to be near Myhrvold's 20,000-square-foot laboratory in Bellevue:

vovito2.jpg

Update: And here's the sexy Slayer with its creators at their Georgetown factory:

2009295474-thumb-345x260-10745.jpgThumbnail image for 2009295486.jpg

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