Caffeine Chemistry: Steampunk Glass Balloon Coffee Maker
It looks like something from a mad scientist’s laboratory, with a heating element furiously boiling water inside a glass bulb. But the liquid this strange-looking device ultimately produces isn’t some mysterious chemical concoction – it’s coffee. Made of hand-blown glass, Café Balão by industrial designer Davide Mateus is based on the design of traditional vacuum-style immersion coffee makers.
Siphoning (or vacpot) coffee makers feature two chambers where vapor pressure and vacuum produce coffee. Vapor from boiling water in the lower chamber forces the water into the upper chamber, which contains the coffee grinds. When the coffee has finished brewing, the heat turns off and the pressure in the lower vessel drops, enabling gravity to pull the brewed coffee into it.
Vacuum-style coffee makers were popular from the mid-19th century through the mid-20th century, and though it was considered to complicated for everyday coffee making, it was prized for producing an exceptionally clear brew.
The method may be complicated, but this design of this particular siphon brewer certainly isn’t. It consists of the two glass vessels, a wooden handle and base, an immersion heater, and cork plugs – the ideal coffee maker for the steampunk kitchen.