History of Coffee Makers
Coffee has been around a really long time. In fact, before it was a beverage it was crushed and held into a food ball with far. Over time, the coffee maker has evolved, with some evolutions resulting in much better coffee experiences and others sacrificing a bit of flavor for the convenience of quickly made coffee with very little preparation.
What You Will Learn
This article will cover the history of coffee makers, including
- The original coffee pot
- How percolation got its start
- The evolution into the modern coffee brewing methods
The first sighting of coffee in the drink we know of today happened in Turkey in around 1400 or 1500. This may perhaps be why Turkish coffee is still considered some of the best coffee in the world to connoisseurs – they originated the concept!
The Turkish coffee boiler was known as the Ibrik. When it originated, the term simply denoted an ewer or pitcher, but today it is almost exclusively known as a Turkish coffee pot worldwide. Turkey just calls it a cezve, or Turkish coffee pot.
This Ibrik is a long handled metal pot, usually made with brass or copper. The coffee grounds are mixed together with sugar, spices, and water before brewing. Once mixed, the brewer heated the mixture until it was nearly boiled, then cooled it and reheated it several times. Once it was ready, the mixture was then poured into a cup and ready to drink. Traditionally, Turkish coffee has foam on top.
This method changed the coffee game. Instead of taking tons of preparation and being eaten rather than sipped, coffee was now something that could be done every day without too much trouble.
The Turkish coffee grinder was reminiscent of the individual cylinder roaster that became popular in the 1600s and eventually lead to the modern cylinder roasting machines. In the 1400s, spice grinders were invented that stood on legs, and that’s how coffee was ground for use.
European Evolution: 1600s and 1700s
Coffee became popular in Europe in the 1600s. Mortars and pestles would grind down roasted beans. Many connoisseurs held that this method was superior to the technique more commonly used today – grinding. They believed this method created a coffee powder that made for a smoother drink experience.
Coffee was brought to America around this time, as Peregrine White’s parents brought a wooden mortar and pestle along on the Mayflower to make coffee powder. La Roque’s father brought coffee from Constantinople to Marseilles in 1644, transporting the roaster plate, cylinder grinder, long handled boiler, and denjeyns, or porcelain drinking cups.
The first make and serve metal pot that is reminiscent of today’s common pots appeared in 1650, when they developed an individual cylinder coffee roaster of copper. IN 1660, the Elford machine gained popularity. This white iron coffee machine was turned on a spit for coffee roasting that was more even. This was developed for commercial and family use.
The Dutch made a lovely machine that roasted beans with a long handle that allowed the user to rotate the beans in open fire places. This method gained popular all over Europe and the States.
In 1677, artful coffee pots were introduced at the St. Germaine’s Fair in Paris. This led to silversmiths producing gorgeous works of art on their silver coffee pots for the aristocracy to enjoy.
France introduced portable coffee makers in 1691. These units had a roaster, grinder, lamp, oil, cups, saucers, spoons, sugar, and coffee all in one! These allowed them to take their coffee anywhere they went.
Coffee gained popularity among the regular people of England in the early 1700s, when they were made from cheap metals like tin. Bull’s roasting machine was patented in England in 1704, marking the first use of coal for commercial coffee roasting. In 1710, the French introduced a fustian (or linen) bag for infusing ground coffee, capitalizing on filtration options.
By 1714, the coffee pot had evolved again, and the handles were curved, reducing taper and no longer set at right angles. The thumb piece had also disappeared.
By 1720, coffee was so common that grinders were extremely cheap – roughly $1.20 each! They also began fastening these grinders to the wall. Later modifications to this type of grinder included a drawer for receiving and storing the grounds. This was an improvement over the former way to get coffee to the masses – buying a sack of greased letter that had been treated with beeswax that was filled with ground coffee. This was the original coffee bag, and took care to preserve the flavor.
The 1750s ad 1760s saw many changes to the popular pot style. In the 1750s, the straight line serving pot lost favor in England and was preplaced with far more artistic designs, including bulbous bodies with serpentine spouts. IN the 1760s, the French inventors began really working on improving coffee makers. In 1763, Donmartin invented a pot with an urn that used a flannel sack to infuse the coffee.
By 1970s, the coffee pot revolution had come full cycle, with English pots once again returning to the flowing style of the Turkish ewer. By 1800, the pots once again returned to a handle at the right angle to the spout.
Businessmen loved capitalizing on the popularity of coffee. In 1779, Richard Dearman got an English patent for his method of grinding coffee at the mills.
In 1798, America was granted its first patent for coffee grinding, when Thomas Bruff, Sr. invented a wall mill fitted with iron plates that ground coffee between two circular nuts.
Evolution of Technology
European travelers continued bringing different methods of roasting and brewing coffee to Europe every time they traveled to the Arabian Peninsula. Coffee shops started opening up all over Europe, beginning with Italy. People began to see them as social gathering area, more popular during the day and by those who didn’t want to spend all their time in the pubs.
Coffee pots were the way that these shops would brew their coffee. They put the grounds in water and heated it until just before boiling. The pots had sharp spouts that filtered out the grinds.
A gross little tidbit of history is that the first appearance of actual coffee filters was when people would load coffee grounds into a sock and then pour hot water through the sock. Although this is closest to the common modern technique for making coffee, I am happy to say that they quickly moved to cloth filters in lieu of socks. The paper filters that were far more efficient while also being less expensive made an appearance 200 years later.
Metal filters and improved filter and coffee pot systems were introduced in the late 1700s. The most popular of these designs was a metal filter with spreaders, allowing for even distribution of water into the coffee grounds. France patented this design.
Mr. Biggin Coffee Pots
The Mr. Biggin pot was released in 1780. It is officially he first commercial coffee maker. This pot made improvements upon the weaknesses if cloth filtering, seeking to find a solution to the problem of poor drainage.
These pots are able to make 3 or 4 cups of coffee at a time. A tin filter or cloth bag sits under the lid. The flaw in this design was that if the grinding wasn’t done properly, the water would run through too coarse or too fine grinds. These pots made it to England 40 years after their release, and are still used today; although they have vastly improved over the original version.
Modernization: The 1800s
The modern methods of coffee really started taking shape in the 1800s and 1900s. This is where coffee took off worldwide. Ironically, as more modern methods developed, debate as to whether they were truly superior or not occurred, and many coffee connoisseurs went backwards in time to methods they consider superior to the modern convenience brewing.
The Du Belloy pot arrived in Paris in 1800. This was the original French drip pot, using tin first then later porcelain and silver. Du Belloy never patented his device, so a lot of inventors followed his creativity when making their own coffee makers.
In 1802, the first French patent for a coffee maker was given to a group of men for a “pharmacological-chemical coffee-making device by infusion.” The same year in London, Charles Wyatt obtained his own patent for his coffee maker.
Hadrot was given a patent in France in 1806 for developing a coffee maker that could “filter coffee without boiling and bathed in air”. Ironically, the word didn’t actually denote filtration. In these times, it meant percolation instead. Percolation means dripping through fine interstices of metal or china, whereas filtration means dripping through nay porous substance. Cloth and paper were most common.
Both Hadrot and De Belloy invented percolation devices. Hadrot’s device simply improved upon the De Belloy by replacing an iron filter with tin and adding a rammer pierced with holes to smooth the coffee in an even fashion. He claimed that his device prevented flavor from being compromised due to boiling water pouring from too high.
Siphon pots, or vacuum brewers, were introduced in the 1830s and made available commercially by Marie Fanny Amelne Massot in the 1840s. BY 1910, they’d made their way to America and sisters Bridges and Sutton patented their Pyrex brewer as the Silex.
These siphon pots resemble hourglasses. The heat source on the bottom built pressure and forced water through a siphon. This allowed it to mix with the ground coffee. Once the grinds filtered out, the coffee was ready to drink. This pot is still used today in artisan coffee shops. It was later an inspiration for the Italian Moka pot.
French and American Invention
There were two different processes of innovation occurring throughout the 1800s. The Americans focused in roasting methods. They learned new ways to roast beans effectively, preserving the oils and natural distinctions in bean flavor.
Meanwhile, the French continued making improvements to the coffee makers themselves. Several patents were issued for different styles of pot, and this is where the modern pot got its inspiration. In 1827, Durant received a patent for a percolator which, like many modern coffee pots, had an interior percolator. Madame Vassieux received a patent in 1842 for a coffee maker with double glass balloons that became very popular in the States.
Modern Coffee Brewing
Towards the late 1800s and early 1900s, modern iterations of coffee began being invented. These methods are still very popular today. Although some of them have been improved upon, many remain in tact.
In 1884, the espresso machine was invented. This is still extremely popular on coffee shops today and remains one of the most popular methods for brewing coffee. Angelo Moriondo received the patent for this machine in Italy. The espresso machine uses water and pressurized steam to make coffee very quickly that is much stronger than other methods. The difference is that his machine produced coffee in bulk, rather than 1 shot at a time.
Bezzerra and Pavoni developed a commercialized version that could produce 1,000 cups of coffee each hour. This made its way to the States in 1927. However, unlike modern versions, these espresso cup shad a very bitter aftertaste. Modern versions were created by Gaggia, which increased the water pressure from 2 bars to 10 bars, creating a smooth and rich cup of espresso that is well loved today.
One of the world’s most popular methods of brewing coffee is the French Press. Although it has fallen out of favor in home use in modern time, it is seeing a resurgence among coffee connoisseurs, and shops always have them on hand for true coffee aficionados. That’s because it is to date the most effective way to brew a perfect cup of coffee. It preserves the flavor of the beans and offers a very smooth cup.
This was credited to the French, but both the French and Italians created a similar invention around the same time. France patented theirs in 1852, while the one that more closely resembles the modern design was actually patented in 1928 in Italy. The one that is used today was invented in 1958. It is known as the Chambord and was manufactured in France by an Italian-Swiss man named Bondanini.
Instant coffee was invented in Britain. It cerates coffee without needing to be brewed. This simply adds a compound to water. It made its way to America during the Civil War in the 1850s. It never gained popularity outside of war time despite the easy method because the taste is very unappealing compared to traditionally brewed coffee.
Coffee has been around for a very long time, but it has only grown in popularity. These days, everyone seems to need their coffee fix and it is not uncommon for people to enjoy several cups per day. Coffee pots have become fixtures in every home and most offices, and coffee shops are found on every corner.
Whether you’re a coffee connoisseur who prefers a specific roast and brewing method, or a convenience drinker who just needs a quick caffeine fix, your coffee pot is part of a history that continues to evolve and innovate while still holding on to tradition.
In Coffee Corner, I write about all things related to coffee and particularly coffee makers.
After being a self-admitted coffee addict for 20 years and as an experienced barista I would consider myself pretty well-versed on the subject. I will try to provide you as much information as possible about coffee makers and coffee in general, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us!