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Steampunk coffeemaker comes home

The Genuine Balancing Siphon Coffee Maker hearkens back to another era. Though seemingly complicated, the device brews a pot of coffee using basic physics.

Boiling water and pressure changes equal old-timey coffee-making.
Boiling water and pressure changes equal old-timey coffee-making. Hammacher Schlemmer

Certain descriptive words tend to get overused. Do an eBay search for vintage or retro and that becomes all too clear. Another label that gets applied all over the place is steampunk. Sometimes one can even see it applied to things that plug into the wall. For those who fancy technology from the Victorian or Edwardian eras, that is probably not what they have in mind.

Ancient tech comes at a price, and in this case that price is $699.95. Inspired by a coffee-brewing process invented by Loeff of Berlin in the 1830s, the Genuine Balancing Siphon Coffee Maker is an old-timey delight that brews a pot of coffee starting with only a flame. The alcohol burner heats water inside a copper kettle, sending it through a pipette. From there, the hot water is introduced to ground coffee inside a brewing chamber. What brings the system home, however, is the fact that the flame is automatically extinguished as a counterbalance provides the action to lower a snuffer onto the flame as the copper kettle rises because of its decreased weight.

The elegant contraption continues from there, completing the brewing process because the pressure variance created by the cooling coffee sends the final brew back to the kettle. A filter installed in the pipette even holds back the grounds as the liquid makes its return journey. Constructed of brass, solid copper, and lead crystal all on a mahogany base, the fanciful gadget is a working example that reaches back in time no matter what it happens to be named.