Sunday, January 25, 2015

“It's early on a beautiful winter morning.

The house is quiet. The sun is shining. I'm thankful. I'm happy. My cup runneth over. Now there's coffee everywhere.”
~Mindy Levy

I never know what is going to set my curiosity on fire, and this week as I was rearranging things for spring in the shop, I came across this coffee pot.  I don't even give coffee brewing a second thought...filter, grounds, water...push the button, but looking at that pot, it sent me on a coffee pot search.
The history of coffee drinking seems to have originated with the Turks (not Starbucks) in the late 6th century, and nothing is recorded until 1818 when the first coffee percolator was designed by American-born British physicist and soldier Count Rumford, otherwise known as Sir Benjamin Thompson (1753–1814).

He invented a percolating coffee pot between 1810 and 1814 following his pioneering work with the Bavarian Army, where he improved the soldiers' diets as well as their clothing. It was his abhorrence of alcohol and his dislike for tea that led him to promote the use of coffee for its stimulating benefits. For his efforts, in 1791, he was named a Count of the Holy Roman Empire and granted the formal title of Reichsgraf von Rumford. His pot did not use the rising of boiling water through a tube to form a continuous cycle.

The first modern percolator incorporating these features and capable of being heated on a kitchen stove was invented a few years later, in 1819, by the Parisian tinsmith Laurens. Its principle was then often copied and modified. There were also attempts to produce closed systems, in other words "pressure cookers".
In 1840, the Napier Vacuum Machine came along. At the time, it was complex to use but made an amazingly clear pot of coffee, which was prized by coffee lovers. Vacuum coffee makers continue to be popular to this day, so no history of the coffee maker would be complete with its mention.

The first US patent for a coffee percolator, which however still used a downflow method without rising steam and water, was issued to James Nason of Franklin, Massachusetts, in 1865.
Finally, an Illinois farmer named Hanson Goodrich patented the modern U.S. stove-top percolator as it is known today, and he was granted patent 408707 on August 16, 1889. It has the key elements, the broad base for boiling, the upflow central tube and a perforated basket hanging on it. He still describes the downflow as being the "percolating." Goodrich's design could transform any standard coffee pot of the day into a stove-top percolator.
Developed in the mid 1800s, the first electric percolators were a big hit with consumers, as it made it easy to make pot after pot of coffee without dealing with the stove. Today's percolators, still part of the history of the coffee maker, don't look much different from the originals.

In France, a device called a biggin made the first drip coffee.  Another French inventor invented the pumping percolator at the same time, which was to become highly popular with cowboys, pioneers and 1950s moms.
Of course, the history of the coffee maker changed forever in 1972 when Mr. Coffee, the first commercially successful automatic drip coffee maker, came on the scene, revolutionizing  the history of the coffee maker forever, and now Keurig has stepped into that revolution.  I must admit that I am happy to have the Mr. Coffee because I was never sure about the stove top coffee pots...never really knew when to pour although it always smelled amazing as it bubbled away!

“Life without books, chocolate and coffee is just useless.”
                                                            ~Nadun Lokuliyanage

1 comment:

Guernsey Girl said...

As a dedicated British coffee-lover I found your blog post fascinating! I remember being given my first electric coffee percolator as a wedding present in the 1970s and being so very proud of it! I use a coffee machine too, nowadays, but, however you take it,there is nothing like the real thing!