by Chris B.
(Mercer, Maine USA)
My in-laws are from Holland and on one visit to the Netherlands we stayed at an interesting hotel called the Boekenhotel...literally the book hotel. Its unique characteristic was that the owners filled the hotel with their personal libraries of thousands of books. There were books used to hold menus, and, well books everywhere for guests to enjoy and in many languages.
But another treat was to be had at dinnertime when coffee was served by a rather unique coffee maker.
I will try to describe its functioning:
To the left is a glass urn with fresh-ground coffee. A brass tube with strainer on the end sits in the coffee and extends over to a brass boiler. Note that the boiler is balanced on a pivot and, as it is filled with water, is heavy and rests just above an alcohol burner (hidden by the valve at the base).
When the burner is lit eventually the water boils and the steam (which cannot escape) presses on the boiling water and drives it over to the glass urn via the tube mentioned previously. When all the water is transferred, the brass boiler, now light in weight, rises and at the same time allows a snuffer to extinguish the flame under the boiler.
Now the hot water has mixed with the coffee and brewing takes place. But the brass container has begun to cool and so too the steam within it begins to condense creating a vacum in the brass boiler. This vacum now "pulls" the brewed coffee back into the brass boiler and when all is transferred the brass pot drops down signaling that the coffee is ready to pour via the spigot at the base.
I was a science teacher... (can you tell?) and I would love to have one of these things.
If you know of a source let me know!