zerode – a sensibility


film, music, text, city, spectacle, pleasure

Hipster Bingo – a social media win

Sightglass Bingo is a cool little app for playing bingo by spotting items at Sightglass Coffee, a hip and popular café and roaster in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood. These kind of social bingo jokes seem to pop up pretty regularly (cf Queen’s Speech Bingo, Amnesty’s Human Rights Presidential Debate Bingo), and when they’re done right they can be quite funny. The iPhone app + Twitter aspect is a very nice upgrade, though.

Sightglass Bingo iPhone app screen

Play bingo by spotting items at Sightglass Coffee in San Francisco.Development by David Kasper. Design by Caleb Elston.Built using parse. (via Sightglass Bingo.)

Some of the bingo entries are going to be practically automatic, they occur so frequently – “Payment w/Square” – whereas some are going to be pretty tricky, like “TechCrunch Article” or “VC” (presumably Venture Capitalist, given the context, and not Vice Chancellor, which was my first, inappropriate context reading).

I’m not sure if this is still active – the app hasn’t be updated since 2011 and there’s been almost no activity on the associated Twitter account (@SightglassBingo) – but I think it’s a great idea. And if it’s not active, let’s get it going again.

Well, actually, you’ll have to do that without me. I never go to Sightglass. (Long story. Short version: I’ve had to divide up the city with an asshole who can’t stand to be in the same place as me – no, not an ex – and he insisted on Sightglass as part of his domain.)  So I won’t be playing this, but it’s easy to see how this could be extended to pretty much any of the other hip, popular coffee spots without much if any modification.

In fact, it would probably work even better at Four Barrel or Ritual, both on Valencia St. in the Mission (and coffee spots that are in my domain).  A few modifications might be in order, though, to improve game play.  You never see them bagging beans at Ritual, for instance, and the roasters are gone. And obviously, you want to make sure that the “cards” are kept fresh – over time, the selection of what’s hip in clothing could change, you can add in the website of the moment, or the newest smartphone or facial hair style.  But the concept is sound, and a hoot.

Sightglass Bingo for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store.

Sightglass Bingo (SightglassBingo) on Twitter.

Filed under: Coffee, Tech, , , ,

Coffee and Books in San Francisco’s Mission District – the perfect job?


Borderlands Cafe, the (somewhat) newly minted accompaniment to San Francisco’s best science fiction and fantasy bookstore, Borderlands Books, is hiring:

We have an unusual job opening at Borderlands Cafe.  It’s not glamorous, but it would be great for a local high schooler or a nearby person with a flexible schedule.  The hours would be 7 pm – 9 pm, Monday – Friday, and the job would include cleaning, busing tables, and doing the closedown work at the Cafe.  Considering how short the hours are, the person really should live quite close to the cafe.  Pay is SF minimum wage, but you get to work with a great group of people and you get a discount at the bookstore!  Email for more information before sending a resume.

I’ve spent a lot of time there, and I can personally attest to the greatness of the people.  This job is a lot like the first job I had—at a game store—but with the addition of COFFEE!  So, totally awesome and vastly superior—possibly the perfect first job for a high schooler who lives in the area.

You can see that I am not alone in loving the cafe by checking out their Yelp page. (I love it just slightly less since they removed the couches up front, and have never been 100% reconciled to their no -WiFi policy, but I understand and support the reasoning behind both decisions.)


Filed under: Coffee, San Francisco, , ,

Know your coffee birds: Blue-crowned Motmot — Coffee & Conservation

blue-crowned motmotCoffee & Conservation provides information about the connection between coffee and the environment — especially bird habitat.

One bird that frequents environmental sensitive coffee plantations is the Blue-crowned Motmot (Momotus momota), a “member of a family of New World tropical birds related to kingfishers. Like kingfishers, they nest in burrows which they dig themselves into soil cliffs or road cuts; these burrows are five to up to 14 feet long, and winding. Most motmots are medium-sized (robin size or larger), and are sit-and-wait predators of large insects, small reptiles or mammals and similarly sized prey, along with a little fruit.

The Blue-crowned Motmot is the most widely distributed motmot, and is found from Mexico to Argentina in lowland forests, on up to 1300 meters. It’s fairly tolerant of somewhat disturbed habitats, and thus can be found in open woodlands and second-growth forest such as those found on shade coffee plantations.”

Know your coffee birds: Blue-crowned Motmot — Coffee & Conservation.

Filed under: Coffee, , ,

The Ultimate Caffeine Delivery System?

“Imagine a coffee brewer that you don’t have to leave running. A coffee brewer that has no pressurized boilers, requires no yearly inspections and heats up water from cold to hot at the push of a button.”

Imagine having an instant brew coffee machine – espresso, cappuccino, you name it – on your desktop – and controlled by your iPhone!  I think I may have died and gone to heaven.

The compact model is about the size of a computer tower: 22 inches tall, 18 inches deep and 7 inches wide. The Scanomat TopBrewer – an idea whose time came when I got to work this morning.

Filed under: Coffee,

In-dash Caffeine Delivery System

For zombies, it’s brains. For me, it’s caffeine. And I’m always on the lookout for new caffeine delivery systems (CDSs). But I have to wonder… how safe is to be brewing very hot liquids while driving at 100kph?

 Espresso Machine for Your Car: Didn’t have time to brew your own cup of coffee in the morning and buying drive-thru coffee is too plebeian for your sophisticated palate?

This nifty thing is for you: the Handpresso Auto espresso maker. Just plug it into your car’s cigarette lighter and you’ll have a proper cup of coffee in no time! (via Crate and  Neatorama.)

Filed under: Coffee, ,

Coffee is good for you

This public service announcement is provided by Happy to Serve You – Melbourne Coffee Reviews.

(And it turns out alcohol is also good for you. So get healthy: have an Irish Coffee.)

Filed under: Coffee

A New Caffeine Delivery System

AeroShot is a caffeine inhaler.

I can think of lots of drugs (don’t even get me started) that might benefit from coming in the form of an inhaler.  Caffeine isn’t one of them.  Sometimes the old ways are best – with the attendant ritual, aroma, collective experience:

Or in a pinch I might settle for Penguin Mints.

And anyway they’re already under review by the FDA… which is looking out for our best interests, I’m sure.

FDA To Review Inhalable Caffeine:  AeroShot went on the market late last month in Massachusetts and New York, and it’s also available in France. Consumers put one end of the canister in their mouths and breathe in, releasing a fine powder that dissolves almost instantly.

Each grey-and-yellow plastic canister contains B vitamins, plus 100 milligrams of caffeine powder, about the equivalent of the caffeine in a large cup of coffee.

AeroShot inventor, Harvard biomedical engineering professor David Edwards, says the product is safe and doesn’t contain taurine and other common additives used to enhance the caffeine effect in energy drinks. (via

For more…

Filed under: Coffee, , ,

We love – always love – coffee

Photos: Coffee Common x NYC at A Startup Store: Coffee Common brings together world-class baristas and roasters with shared values, to create unique experiences that introduce people to the nuanced joys of exceptional coffee. We believe that great coffee is, at its best, a collaboration of an empowered coffee farmer, an artisan coffee roaster, a dedicated barista, and an enlightened consumer. (via LaughingSquid)

And we love LaughingSquid, but wonder why when they are nominally based in San Francisco, so many of their cool posts, and all their cool coffee posts, seem NYcentric…

Filed under: Coffee, NYC

Check out the San Francisco Coffee Company – of München

I’m definitely checking this out the next time I’m in Munich – the San Francisco Coffee Company.

Coffee Place Theresienhöhe
Theresienhöhe 12
80339 München

According to one local review, SFCC is “lecker” (delicious):

Den Besuch heute habe ich als Gelegenheit genutzt, mal einen Chai Tea Latte zu probieren. Lecker ist das allumfassende Fazit :-)
(via Kaffeeversum.)

But I am not going to trust that. I plan to dispatch our local correspondent – Bettina, are you reading this? – to check it out for me.  Something tells me it is not going to measure up to real San Francisco coffee standards.

Filed under: Coffee, ,

Computers and Cafes

What do you do at a coffee shop?: So have laptops killed the coffee shop? I can’t go that far. What I will say that it does alter the physical landscape of what a coffee shop looks like, which is that it looks like people are working, which interferes with the idea of the kind of coffee shop people like me see – a place with great mugs, great coffee, friends, or a journal to empty your thoughts… (via Fighting Reality.)

Fighting Reality goes to cafés to read and relax and feels like the preponderance of laptops is a somewhat unwelcome intrusion of the world of work into this space of sociability, pleasure and relaxation. And I sympathize with his/her perspective—it’s certainly not an isolated one.

When the people behind Borderlands Books were opening a café next door, they asked for input from their community of friends and customers on what that café should be like. One of the issues was WiFi (wireless internet access), and the decision was made that WiFi would affect the character of the café in precisely the ways that Fighting Reality raises. They didn’t put in WiFi, so their café would not turn too much into a work space, with a bunch of individuals hunched behind their laptops, beavering away in the digital salt mines of our Web2.0 world. Instead, what they hoped for and largely achieved was a space where people read books (often purchased next door) on the comfy couches or chat with friends at the nice wooden tables.

Just down Valencia Street, the very popular coffee shop Ritual Roasters took a somewhat different approach. They left in their WiFi, but took out almost all of the power outlets. Customers can still surf, tweet, Facebook, but only as long as their batteries last. This approach may perhaps have been motivated more by commercial considerations, pushing for a faster turnover, than at creating a particular ambiance, but in fact it has changed the feel of their space. Before, coming into the café one would be faced by ranked masses of laptops (mostly MacBooks), making the place resemble an open-plan office. Now, there’s less of that, with laptop users mostly clustered around the large communal table in the back, where the few remaining power outlets are. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Coffee, , , ,

We love… Cities and Cafés – two great things that go great together

The Guardian travel section has another interactive walking tour that is worth a look, this one involving one of my absolute favorite kinds of places – cafés…

London walks: Coffee tour: From meeting places for 17th-century poets to the 50s espresso bar revolution and today’s new ‘flat white’ kids on the block, Dr Matt Green traces the role of coffee houses in the capital. This walking tour can be downloaded on to your mp3 player or mobile and used as an audio guide on location along with the map, which you can print out or use on your phone… (via Travel |

Coincidentally, I’ve spent the last three Saturdays taking a friend on walking tours in the Bay Area that centered around cafés. The idea is to take a 5-10 mile walk through San Francisco or Berkeley/Oakland, looking at city sights and stopping regularly to refresh one’s self at a cafe, and to get some reading in at the same time. My friend is less into reading for long periods in cafés than me, and something of a foodie, so these recent walks have had shorter café breaks, but have been fleshed out with wonderful food from some of the exciting gourmet and foodie establishments that have been springing up all over the Greater Bay Area like a plague of nummy treats. I may try to write up one of these tours and post it in the near future…

A historical tour of London cafés would be interesting for the perspective it would provide on coffee shop culture.  During the 60s, when cafés really started appearing in the United States there was a strong association of them with counter-cultural social and political values, but history shows that this association has been around since the earliest days of coffee-drinking.

And cafés go back pretty far in English history:

Coffeehouse: The first coffeehouse in England was set up in Oxford in 1650 by a Jewish man named Jacob at the Angel in the parish of St Peter in the East in a building now known as “The Grand Cafe”. A plaque on the wall still commemorates this and the cafe is now a trendy cocktail bar. Oxford’s Queen’s Lane Coffee House, established in 1654, is also still in existence today. The first coffeehouse in London was opened in 1652 in St Michael’s Alley, Cornhill. (via Wikipedia.)

For a take on the more recent history of London cafés, check out Classic Cafes | London’s vintage Formica caffs!

Filed under: Coffee, , , ,

We love… Italian steampunk coffee droids

Elektra coffee machine Q1C Belle epoque Electronic Chrome & Bakelite

via Caffè Italia Professional Coffee Machines.

Filed under: Coffee



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zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.


What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.



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