There probably isn’t anyone on earth who isn’t acquainted with one of the world’s most popular drinks…coffee. Coffee and the preparation of coffee have an illustrious history as rich as the history of men and drink, and this history wouldn’t be complete without the history of coffee percolators. Nothing has revolutionized the consumption of coffee more so than the percolator and the subsequent inventions thereafter that all strove to achieve one goal… a delicious cup of joe.
Although coffee has been documented to have been utilized since the first few centuries of the Common Era, coffee shops first sprung up in the Middle East around the 5th century, and it wasn’t until the 17th century that the first cafes opened up across Europe. It was around this time that coffee lovers realized they needed a better way to brew.
In 1819, a Parisian metal smith who historically is known as Laurens invented the first coffee percolator. The percolator relies on a three tier construction that has water in the bottom with a tube that runs up to the top that holds the coffee. The coffee in the top is separated from the middle compartment by a mesh of some sort so the hot steam bubbles up through the tube, condenses on the grounds and slowly drips into the middle compartment. Once a certain amount of time has passed and most of the water had boiled out of the bottom, the percolator would stop making a recognizable sound and the coffee would be deemed complete.
After this percolator came the vacuum pot that worked in a similar fashion but only had two chambers that were connected. The water would boil and be forced into the top chamber, and then when the pot was removed the bottom would cool and the resultant vacuum would pull the coffee back down into the bottom chamber. This was developed by James Napier of England in 1940.
The first percolator in America was developed by James Mason in 1865. It worked on the same principal as the original percolator. This percolator allowed the brewed coffee to continually circulate from top to bottom until the desired strength was achieved.
Then, in a ground breaking moment in coffee history in 1972, the automatic home percolator-now known as the drip coffee maker-by the name of Mr. Coffee was introduced by Vince Marotta. Mr. Coffee became a household name from that day forward.
The evolution of the percolator is as illustrious as coffee itself. This is only a brief history of coffee percolators. The coffee percolator is a prime example of the human desire for the technology required to make life easier and make enjoying the pleasures of life more convenient. Maybe the percolator will be lost to the annals of history, but there can be no argument that the history of coffee percolators is an important chapter in the overall legacy of coffee making everywhere. Get out there, and enjoy your very own cup of joe’ percolated to perfection.
Read more: Coffee Maker Types – A Brief Overview