It’s coffee time

Jan 5, 2015

Ever since coffee became available in Europe in the mid-seventeenthcentury, coffee drinkers havebeen trying to perfect the brewing process. By the 1850s, the Balancing SiphonCoffee Brewer was preferred by java junkies worldwide. The example shown above is part of Historic New England’s collection of household objects.

The Balancing Siphon Coffee Brewer combinesingenuity and science. Its dual chambersuse vapor pressure and a vacuum to brew the coffee. First, the water heats up in the ceramic chamber. As temperature increases, so does the vaporpressure. The increasing vapor pressure in the ceramic chamber pushes theboiling water to the lower-pressure glass chamber, which contains finely ground coffee beans.

A small amount of waterremains in the ceramic chamber in order to keep the pressure constant, thusallowing for enough time for the coffee to brew. As the temperature andpressure decrease in the ceramic chamber, a vacuum-like effect is created andthe coffee is sucked back, leaving the coffee grounds behind. Once back in theceramic chamber, the coffee is ready to be enjoyed.

The Balancing Siphon Coffee Brewer is the forerunner of many modern devicesused today. See it in action here.

Explore more Historic New England collections.