THE STORY OF THE COFFEE POT
Our new series focuses on the fascinating history of some humble household items. And it starts with a caffeine hit
Over the centuries, coffee has been made on the hob, over fires, in earthenware carafes and pressurised Italian percolators; and served everywhere from Turkish street kitchens to stately Georgian salons. Accordingly, vessels for brewing and serving it range from efficient engines to decorative status symbols. With takeaway coffee coming at an alarming environmental cost – we get through 10,000 disposable cups every two minutes in Britain, and they are not recyclable – it’s time to rediscover the pleasure of home brewing.
DALLAH, Middle East Also known as a ‘Baghdad boiler’, this richly decorated pot was used by nomadic Bedouin people in Arab deserts, where coffee preparation symbolised hospitality and wealth. Its beak-like spout minimises sediment ending up in the cup.
CAFÉ AU LAIT POTS, Sheffield
The spout on this Georgian silver pot is set at a right-angle to its straight, turned-wood handle, making for easy pouring. The style was echoed in Robert Welch’s 1957 ‘Campden’ design, which has a matching milk jug.
PORCELAIN POT, London By now, Britain was importing around three million pounds of coffee beans per year, according to the V&A Museum. The Bow Porcelain Factory made this elaborate soft-paste porcelain design, which is strengthened with bone and ash.
FRENCH PRESS, Milan
A truly European piece: with origins in France, this heat-resistant glass device with mesh filter was patented by Milanese designer Attilio Calimani in 1929. In Britain this design remains most commonly known as a cafetière.
‘ VOGUE’ COFFEE POT,
Staffordshire This geometric shape by heritage Staffordshire pottery Shelley features a stylised Art Deco ‘Sunray’ pattern. The piece was a pioneering modern design in bone china.
BIALETTI ‘MOKA’ POT, Italy
Patented by its designer Luigi De Ponti for Bialetti, this iconic stovetop design is a staple in Italian kitchens. Also known as a machinetta ( little machine), it brews coffee by pushing pressurised boiling water up through ground coffee.
‘CYLINDA-LINE’ COFFEE POT,
Denmark Arne Jacobsen’s brushed stainlesssteel design propelled Danish tableware manufacturer Stelton to success. It is still available today, and in 2004 the company launched an update, a press-top coffee maker.
HARIO ‘COLD BREW COFFEE
FILTER’ BOTTLE, Japan Join the craze for cold-brewing coffee – these bottle with built-in filters are more stylish than a takeaway cup. To find out how to see these coffee pots and more, visit collection.vam.ac.uk and britishmuseum.org