Coffee Pot

I can remember waking up and smelling the aroma of fresh perked coffee as Mother prepared breakfast. This was before “Mr. Coffee” and no one had even heard of “Starbuck’s”.

Coffee was always prepared with a coffee pot called a percolator. Granted, it wasn’t the best tasting coffee. It was sometimes a little bitter although Maxwell House claimed that it was good to the last drop. Because the water had to be boiled for the percolator to work, the heat of the boiling water often caused the coffee grounds to “cook” and give a bitter taste. Care had to be taken not to over perk the coffee. Some old timers learned to like this bitter taste. Others preferred to “cream” their coffee giving it a smooth taste and also helping hide the bitter taste.

Coffee can be addictive but otherwise with little harmful effect. Most just enjoy its flavor and like to have a warm drink especially with meals. My daddy always had coffee with his meals no matter what we were having and he liked it black.

Back then every household had a coffee pot. It was small and easy to keep clean. It could even be used on camping trips. You might have noticed in the old westerns the cowboys around the campfire often had a coffee pot.

The percolator is a simple machine but I doubt if many can explain how it works. There is a hollow tube with a small circular base that rests on the bottom of the percolator. A small cup-like sieve with a hole in its center holds the ground coffee and is placed at the top of the hollow tube. The hollow tube runs through the hole in the center of the sieve. Water is placed in the percolator and brought to a boil. The boiling water runs up the hollow tube and spills over on the coffee grounds with each perk. The water returns to the bottom of the percolator through the sieve. After a short time enough coffee is dissolved to produce a dark brown drink.
Coffee Pot
I did some research on the internet to find why the water goes up the hollow tube. Boiling water causes bubbles to form. As the bubbles with trapped steam in them form in the hollow tube they burst. When they burst pressure is formed that forces water out the top of the tube. This creates a small vacuum that sucks more boiling water up the tube and the process is repeated. “Why?” may be the most important question in learning.