Maven Moment: the Old Coffee Pot

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A good cup of coffee to start your day … what could be better?

Mom always made Dad a nice cup of espresso every morning in her little stovetop pot. The top and bottom of the pot screwed together with a coffee filter (a metal funnel) with coffee grounds between the two chambers. Water boiled in the bottom chamber and percolated through the grounds and deposited coffee into the upper part of the pot, filling the house with the heavenly fragrance of fresh-brewed coffee.

Grandma also used a stovetop percolator to make coffee for her family and friends. She had the same old sturdy pot for as long as I can remember … and she made the best coffee! Neighbors used to love to come in for “cake and coffee” and it was a real treat for the family too. On holidays, Grandma had a very large metal electric coffee pot with a spout and a glass gauge that told you how much coffee was in it. When the “urn” — as we called it — came out, we knew it was a special occasion.

I still use a metal espresso pot every morning for my coffee. I have had it more years than I can count. Other than a little melting of the plastic handle from the heat, it still works perfectly. I tried an electric coffee pot for a time, but I was disappointed in the result. The coffee seemed weak and thin and it got cold very quickly in the glass carafe compared to my metal pot. So, I went right back to my old-fashioned coffee pot and I couldn’t be happier. I even make pumpkin spice latte in it using ginger, sugar, a little cinnamon, and a bit of black pepper in the grounds. Add this to some heated milk, and you have an outstanding pumpkin latte for fall!

I think brewing coffee in those old-style pots is more sustainable. Of course, the spent coffee grounds can be composted but it also requires no disposable paper filters. Aside from the plastic handle, the vessel is metal, so it could even be recycled if it ever stopped working — which is pretty unlikely given its simple and sturdy design. So, I generate no waste when I make coffee this way.

Buying a coffee in a disposable to-go cup versus my old metal espresso pot? Looks to me like one more example of how some old-fashioned ways can be more sustainable.

Joanna, the Green Maven

About the Author

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.

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