Take a walk down the appliance aisle of any big box store, and you may find yourself overwhelmed by the different types of coffee makers that are available. From espresso machines to tiny portable coffee makers, there is a coffee machine for every personality out there.
This is because coffee has been a global phenomenon for centuries, and nearly every country has found a new and unique way to brew coffee. If you’re curious about how different countries like their favorite brew, here are 8 different countries and how they coffee machines developed.
1- Manual Espresso Maker – Italy
Italy is home to not one, but two unique coffee machines. The Moka pot, which has an interesting design that often gets featured in art for its unique shape, and the Espresso maker. We all know and love espresso these days, and many of us have an espresso more often than we have ordinary drip coffee.
The espresso maker was invented due to customer demand for instant coffee. Before the espresso maker was invented, coffee was extremely popular all over Europe, but it took a long time to make. You could expect to wait as long as 5 minutes to get your cup of coffee—too long for caffeine deprived citizens.
An Italian named Angelo Moriondo invented this unique coffee maker, and it was later perfected by Luigi Bezzerra and Desiderio Pavoni. Their name for it, “espresso” which means “made on the spur of the moment” is now the term we use when we think of this particular form of coffee.
2- Percolator – United States
For most people, an espresso machine is an extravagant purchase that seems a little excessive for their home, but the ubiquitous coffee maker is still in nearly every household—as a percolator instead. These coffee machines are everywhere, providing enough coffee to supply a sleepy household of any size.
These convenient, portable coffee makers are said to get their start in Illinois. A man named Hanson Goodrich invented it, and described it as a coffee maker that would produce coffee without any grounds or impurities in them. Before the percolator, coffee grounds were simply boiled in water, leaving you to drink the substance, gritty black grounds and all. Definitely not what you would call the best coffee in the world.
Many other brewing methods would branch out from this style of filtering the coffee, including the Moka Pot and the Siphon style coffee makers from Japan.
The percolator isn’t the only coffee machine to be invented by the United States either. In 2007 the Keurig would be invented in America as well, a coffee machine that allows you to make a single cup of coffee using a tiny plastic cup of coffee grounds. These were meant for office situations where coffee may only be used by one person, and the rest left warming in the pot all day long.
The Keurig has since become popular for home use, and K-cups can be gotten in almost every flavor, including hot chocolate and tea. The keurig has experienced some turbulence in recent years, with those in favor of it praising it for being less wasteful, and others seeing it as an unnecessary use of single use plastic. Despite these tensions, the Keurig is still an extremely popular coffee maker, and has been added to many different homes and offices around the world.
3- French Press – France
The design for a French Press was first patented by two french men, Mayer and Delforge. Their invention was for a carafe and a press, but the press did not seal like the ones we know today. The improvements on the design would eventually be made in Italy, decades later.
The french press is a very common portable coffee maker that is used all around the world. Although the patent was made in the late 1800s, this style of coffee maker may have been in use much earlier. One legend goes that a french man was traveling in the country side, and forgot to put the coffee into his pot before he had boiled the water. When he poured the coffee in, it stayed on top.
He decided that he wanted to save the coffee and bought a piece of screen from another passing man. He used it to scoop the coffee and press it. When he and the man he had purchased the screen from tasted it, it was the best coffee they had ever had.
While much of the history of the French press is still a mystery, one thing is for certain—it is a long time favorite of coffee lovers around the world.
4- Cold Drip – Japan
While most of the coffee brewing methods we are familiar with come from hot water and coffee grounds, one method of brewing a spectacular cup of coffee comes from cold water. This method of brewing, called cold drip, involves tall towers of special equipment that use time to extract the flavor of coffee instead of heat.
Though it may seem like a relatively new thing, the Japanese may have been brewing coffee this way since as early as the 1600s.
These elaborate coffee machines take a long time to brew the coffee, but is often beautiful to watch. If you have a long afternoon with nothing better to do, watching your cold drip being made isn’t a bad way to spend it.
5- Pour over coffee machine – Germany
In the 1900s, a woman named Amalie Bentz decided to invent a new method of brewing coffee. Espresso machines and percolators had already been invented, but both of them had problems at the time. Espresso machines tended to leave unpleasant grounds in the coffee still, and percolators tended to overbrew the coffee and leave a nasty, bitter flavor.
What’s a coffee lover to do in such a situation? Invent a coffee maker that brews good coffee without the grounds. Amalie Bentz came up with the coffee filter, and invented the pour over coffee filter that is still in use today.
The machine she invented, called the Melitta is still a brand that exists to this day, speaking to the need and usefulness of this product.
6- Instant Coffee – Britain
While not a coffee machine, instant coffee is an important part of coffee history that shouldn’t be ignored. Most people either love instant coffee, or hate it. Instant coffee is extremely popular in Asia, but it is less popular in other parts of the world. It can be created by freeze drying or spray drying.
While finely ground coffee can be used as an instant coffee, these methods are usually used because they create a lighter product with a longer shelf life.
Instant coffee was invented in Britain in 1771, and was referred to as a coffee compound rather than the more familiar term instant coffee we know today. Other parts of the world were quick to copy this idea, and new forms of instant coffee were quick to appear in America and many other parts of the world.
While instant coffee is handy to have on hand if your coffee maker breaks, most of us prefer to get our coffee from a proper coffee machine.
7- Vietnamese Coffee Maker – Vietnam
Vietnamese coffee is a unique way of brewing coffee and creates a very powerful cup. Coffee is one of Vietnam’s most important crops. Their unique method of brewing coffee is to take a coffee filter and put it over a cup, and then to pour hot coffee over it, straight into the cup.
Apart from removing the coffee grounds, there is little to no filtration, meaning that all the oils (and caffiene) go straight into your cup. This combined with the coffee being made from the “Robusta” coffee plant, means you will get one strong cup of coffee from making it this way.
8- Ibrik (Turkish Coffee Maker) – Turkey
The oldest form of creating coffee is the Turkish coffee maker. The first mention of Turkish coffee is as early as 1540. Coffee is made in a special coffee maker called an Ibrik. This small portable coffee maker is simple in design, yet incredibly useful.
The Ibrik is essentially a coffee pot with a handle. Coffee grounds are mixed with cold water, and then boiled 3 times until it is extremely thick and dark.
Where ever you go in the world, people have come up with a way to brew coffee. In south America, a coffee machine can be as simple as a sock in a wooden frame, and in other parts of the world, knowing how to brew a cup of coffee is an important part of marriage ceremonies. Whether it is for speed, strength of flavor, or purity, the ideas behind these fascinating coffee makers are both unique and inspiring.
The next time you fix yourself a cup of coffee, take a moment to think about the intricate machine behind your delicious brew.