Saturday, March 29, 2008

The History of Coffee Makers

It was love at first sip. Once man discovered the taste of coffee and the stimulating effect of caffeine on the body, he was hooked. The road to a quality coffee maker has been bumpy. Original coffee makers had a slight problem in that they occasionally blew up. Sometimes they burned the coffee.

According to some, women who ran houses of ill repute were among the first great coffee makers. In 1674, men were spending so much time drinking at local coffee houses that the women in England tried to outlaw coffee. Coffee makers in the 1600's and 1700's were designed in an array of styles, most featuring a fat bulge in an effort to help retain the coffee grounds when pouring out the coffee.

Some creative individual put coffee in a sock in an effort to contain the grounds in 1780. This heralded the birth of the Mr. Biggin coffee maker. The Mr. Biggin used a cloth filter. Coffee fans tried cotton, wool, burlap and other fabrics and materials to filter coffee. Cloth wasn't working real well. In 1802, the metal coffee filter came into use.

The 1800's were a time of rapid coffee maker development. Madame Vassieux of Lyons, developed a vacuum coffee maker. Madame Richard also created a vacuum style coffee maker. Vacuum and percolator coffee makers were widely used. In 1818, a Parisian metal smith invented the first coffee percolator. In America, the Cowboy Pot was the coffee maker of choice.

During the years of 1835 to 1850, many, many coffee makers are invented. Glass balloon coffee makers, vacuum system coffee makers, piston system coffee makers, pressure steamer coffee makers, a Naperian balancing siphon coffee maker and other coffee makers, roasters and grinders are invented.

The birth of the Manning-Bowman Percolator ocurred in 1890. House Furnishings Review magazine promoted the Cafetiere double blown-glass coffee maker. The Raparlier coffee maker featured a filter made of hemp. This style of Hydropneumatic coffee maker was used as late as the 1960's.

Vacuum and percolator coffee makers continued to be created in different syles. Plunger filters were first introduced in the 1900's. The principle is still applied to coffee makers today. Some say that it is virtually impossible to make a bitter cup of coffee with a plunger style coffee maker.

As the 1900's progressed, Willy Brandl invented one of the first ever electric coffee makers. The major development in this case was the switch that automatically turned the coffee maker off when the liquid level was low.
Coffee filters as we know them today were born in 1912. Frau Benz invented Melitta coffee filter paper. Goodbye linen and cloth coffee filters. Hello paper. Easy to use and easy to get rid of.

The first true espresso machine arrived in 1946 when Achille Gaggia designed the first espresso machine that didn't involve using steam. Within fifteen years, modern coffee makers using paper filters began to be used commercially. Bunn introduced the paper filter as it's known today in 1957. The first 'pourover' coffee maker was introduced by Bunn in 1963.

Mr. Coffee was born in 1972. The automatic drip coffee maker hits store shelves and start showing up in homes and businesses everywhere. After Mr. Coffee signed Joe DiMaggio to be the company spokesman in 1974, Mr. Coffee became a household name.

When the price of coffee beans skyrocketed in 1977, Mr. Coffee created a coffee saver coffee maker that used less coffee. The first thermal coffee carafe is born around this time, giving coffee drinkers the ability to easily keep coffee hot for long periods. By 1979, timers appeared on coffee makers and have come a long way from the Cowboy Coffee Pot. It will be interesting to see how the machines evolve over the next hundred years.