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I roll over and the smell of coffee waifs into my room and my mind wanders to my current shopping list with a certain excitement. Some of my favorite specialty coffee beans are on that list, plus a few other less important items. I drift in and out of a dream. Ahhh… The warm white smooth cotton sheets conspire to keep me in bed a few minutes longer and coffee dominates the list.
I am thinking about how recently decided to give in to an urge that I have been fighting for many years now. Yes, finally I have purchased two ridiculously cool coffee makers that, until recently, I would have never actually had it in me to go out and purchase.
As a consummate consumer of good design and a fan of the arts and craft movement of the late 1800’s I find that there are periods of time when less than exciting functional design products dominate.
It would seem like a no-brainer that the North Americans should, by 2016, be able to design a functional and beautiful coffee making system, but for months of searching online and out in the real world, I had no luck finding anything American-made that suited my fancy. It is harder than one might think to find such an object made here in America, sadly. Of course, one could argue that maybe I just didn’t look hard enough.
Nonetheless, my most recent search has led me far abroad. One of the coolest coffee makers I found, if you have the space for it, is a coffee maker using the Eiffel tower as inspiration. A little more art nouveau than arts and craft but it does appeal to the imagination.
Cool Coffee Maker #1 – Dutch Lab Cold Brew Drip Machine
Coffee-loving South Korean design studio, Dutch Lab, takes an elaborate approach to my favorite morning ritual. The Eiffel Tower-inspired coffee maker, in particular, looks like a cross between the Parisian landmark and a science experiment. With a glass tank and flask set suspended vertically, the coffee maker harnesses the power of gravity and time to make coffee without any electricity or heat.
The process occurs slowly (most cold brew processes take around 12 hours), but the result is a less acidic brew than you get with a hot water system. This is not the kind of coffee maker you hide in the corner of the kitchen—it’s designed to be a work of art as well as a functional kitchen tool. So, amazingly, I was able to get my hands on one of these! And now its in MY kitchen. 😀
This is truly one of the coolest coffee makers I have ever seen, and the coffee tastes even better than this model looks. Of course, you have to be into cold brew coffee and you have to start the process the night before (that’s what I do), but there’s something cool about getting this process happening late at night and letting it do its thing while you sleep.
Cool Coffee Maker #2 – Café Balāo
Another object d’art that I was eyeing for a long time, along the same lines as the Dutch Lab, is a coffee maker that looks like it comes from a chemistry lab.
The Café Balāo is a coffee maker that would look right at home in Mr. Cooper’s chemistry lab. Looks simple enough to use, but at first I was not sure it is right for me. Mr. Cooper frequently insisted that my lab partner carry the expensive equipment across the room to our station as I was not known for my, ah, grace, shall we say.
Finally, I decided to pull the trigger on this one too. I was going to have to learn to be more graceful than I was when I was twelve with the Café Balāo.
Despite some uncertainty about where to put it, this unit is pretty amazing once I found the right spot for it. Designed by Portuguese design student Davide Mateus, the Café Balāo looks very much at first glance like a modified version of the Kipp Apparatus.
There are two tiers of the Balāo, one for water and the other coffee, each of which is made with reinforced glass. Ground coffee goes in the top bulb, and the bottom tier is filled with water. A submerged electric coil heats up and boils the water when the Balāo is plugged in.
The way the Café Balāo brews coffee is simple percolation physics. When plugged in the immersed heated coil in the bottom bulb begins to rapidly boil the water. The boiling of water forces the water up the pipe in the middle of the Balāo, which then enters the chamber with the coffee, where it is infused. After it has boiled for however long you want it to boil, you unplug the Balāo. As the coffee cools, it flows back into the lower chamber, leaving the spent grinds in the top container. I am not sure that Christopher Dresser would be impressed with this design but it certainly is a work of art.
Cool Coffee Maker #3 – Bonaverde Coffee Maker
At this current point, I am still looking for a super cool coffee maker that is made in the USA, but in the meantime, I have found another design beauty, the Bonaverde coffee maker. This industrial design winner roasts, grinds and brews coffee all in one unit and it is beautiful. Need I say more? Yes, even the inner workings are reminiscent of a Mies Van der Rohe painting.
Since my kitchen is now a combination of hippy commune, art gallery, and coffee science lab, I am thinking about getting a third pricey but insanely cool coffee maker to add to the fun. Some of my friends have said that I’m going through a phase right now, but what a phase it is! 😉