Vote for BetaCup – Networked Loyalty

Networked coffee mugs provide an update to the old 10th-cup-free punch-card customer loyalty program. Our highly modular system allows any coffee shop to use one of our mug readers, link it to their name and physical location, and get started immediately with the program. Shops will sell RFID-enabled stickers at a low cost to customers who provide their own reusable coffee mug. Once the sticker is applied to a mug, that mug can be scanned at any participating coffee shop’s reader to log refills anywhere the customer goes.

The BetaCup (we liked the name, so we went with it!) reader – the in-store device that reads each mug’s sticker – provides haptic feedback in the form of a light thud to let the customer know that the mug was indeed scanned. The customer will feel the vibration through the cup. It also provides visual feedback with low powered LED lights when a 10-cup milestone is reached, so that baristas and servers will know when to issue a free refill. Each scan is followed by an appropriate timeout so customers will be unable to take advantage of the system. Optionally, businesses can use our API, or new services that are created with our API, to create real-time displays to show BetaCup usage at their shop.

Read more and vote for BetaCup on Jovoto!

Maple Bacon Latte @ Pirate Cat Radio Café

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Last night on No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain visited San Francisco.  One of the places he checked out was the Pirate Cat Radio Café in the Mission District, (in)famous for their Maple Bacon Latte ($5).  Joe, Michelle, and I went after work to check it out for ourselves.

The lowdown:

Milk, maple syrup, and concentrated bacon grease.

Mix and foam the previous ingredients together.

Double shot of espresso.

Top with crunchy chewy powdered bacon bits.

Sweet porky caffeinated goodness.  And pure evil.

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The maple bacon latte came with a vegan chocolate truffle, which was covered in a scary, unidentifiable pink powder.  Sort of guilding the lily if I do say so myself.  Perhaps a shot of whiskey in the concoction would have been a better bet.  As Bourdain once said, “vegans are the Hezbollah-like splinter faction of vegetarians.”  Pink powder is a weapon of mass destruction.  But I digress.

Let me just say for the record that I am rabidly pro-pork fat in the most un-kosher/un-halal way possible.  After all, I hail from the pig-loving Pacific island of Taiwan, where a common comfort food from simpler times is a steaming bowl of rice mixed with lard and soy sauce.  Lard runs through my veins.  Liquid pork fat is the lipid love in my beloved Japanese tonkotsu ramen.  Pork and maple syrup is certainly not without precedent; they are all over the pork and maple combo up in Québec.

Back to the matter at hand. The maple bacon latte tasted alright at first.  The mouth-feel was definitely creamier and richer than a normal latte because of the bacon fat.  But as the drink cooled, the bacon grease started to separate and congeal a bit, feeling a bit heavy.

But that part was ok.  My biggest issue was with the smell.  The porky, smokiness smell was more off-putting than the presence of bacon grease in my coffee.  If anything, the bold flavors the maple and the bacon overshadowed the coffee.  More astringent bitterness from the coffee would have balanced some of the cloying sweetness and lipid overload.

My palate was craving something.  Perhaps a bit more saltiness to bring out the flavors.  Or some freshly ground pepper (or something spicy) to tie together the sweetness of the maple with the richness of the bacon.  Or maybe a shot of whiskey to help it all go down.

Needless to say, none of us could finish our drinks, but I guess that’s hardly the point.  If reading Tony’s books and watching his show have taught me anything, it is to go with the flow and take in the local attitude and charm.

I may have enjoyed it more if the weather were colder, or if I were hung over or something.  Hanger helper or breakfast of champions perhaps.  Gut bomb, for sure. But definitely not an ideal after-work-on-a-Tuesday kind of beverage.  But that’s my bad.  We probably should have went for beer (or whiskey) somewhere.

Definitely a worthwhile once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I thought I was going to have a heart attack walking up the hill on my way home.  For sure, there are worse ways to die, but alas, I live to tell the tale.  Despite eating some pineapple to clear my palate, I can still smell swine on my breath three hours later.  Thanks for the thrills Tony!  The LOLs are on us.

T minus 3 days until NYC.

See also: Pirate Cat Radio Café review on UrbanDaddy

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Farley’s and Hazel’s

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Farley’s and Hazel’s Kitchen have become my usual San Francisco Sunday morning spot for a one-two punch of caffeine and breakfast burrito.  Farley’s is a coffee shop, and Hazel’s is a tiny deli/takeout joint.  They are located right next door to each other in in Potrero Hill.  You can order food to-go from Hazel’s and eat at Farley’s or when the weather is nice, they have tables outside on the street.  As a creature of habit, I always order the breakfast burrito with tofu at Hazel’s, so I can’t comment on the other food, but the other stuff looks good too.  Everything is fresh and homemade.  Farley’s is an shabby-chic anti-Starbucks, with hip and friendly baristas and an awesome selection of magazines for sale (including my favorite, Monocle).

Farley’s
1315 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
415.648.1545

Hazel’s Kitchen
1319 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
415.647.7941