Posted in Kafevend Blog

Pots and plungers

We've talked a bit about instant coffee recently on the Kafevend blog, but we know for some that will never do. Inspired by our look at the Russian samovar earlier this week, we thought we would have a look at some of the devices out there you can use to make yourself a more respectable cup of coffee- let's begin with an old stalwart, the French press.

An impressive brew

More commonly known as the cafetière here in the UK, the French press is generally believed to have its origins in France- hence the name. However, it was an Italian by the name of Attilio Calimani who first patented the design back in 1929. Although it's undergone various modifications over the years the principle remains the same.

In a French press, coffee is made up in a jug with hot water- it is important that the coffee grind is quite coarse. This is due to the mechanism which gives the device its name. After brewing for a few minutes, a plunger which fits over the top of the jug is pressed down, forcing the coffee grounds to the bottom. If the grind was too fine, it would trap the water and it would be terribly difficult to push the plunger down!

There is another device which uses a similar mechanism to the French Press called the AeroPress. Invented in 2005 by the American Alan Adler, it is essentially a faster and simpler version of the French Press. The main structure contains two parts- a hollow tube and a plunger which blocks one end. The plunger is up the tube and coffee and water are added in the resulting space. A perforated disc containing a filter is then twisted over the other end, and then after around a minute (or less) the plunger is pressed to extract the coffee.

For a potful of coffee

That's enough about plungers- what other ways are there to make coffee at home? A popular device used in Italy and more widely through the southern Mediterranean is the Moka pot. This was patented around the same time as the French press by another Italian called Luigi De Ponti in 1933. He invented the device for Alfonso Bialetti, who went on to manufacture and popularise the Moka pot in Italy and abroad- Bialetti brand Moka pots are still with us today.

The Moka pot works by using steam pressure. It is divided into three chambers stacked one on top of the other. The bottom one is filled with water and is heated when placed on a stove top. The steam that forms creates a high pressure inside the chamber and forces the remaining water up through a tube. This passes through the smaller, central chamber which contains a bed of coffee. The water mixes with the coffee and bubbles up through another tube and into the top chamber, where you pour your drink from. It's a wonderfully ingenious mechanism for brewing your coffee and rather interesting to watch!


History of the Moka pot

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