Revisiting a Classic: The Chemex Coffee Maker and Beyond

Revisiting a Classic: The Chemex Coffee Maker and Beyond

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Jess Watson
Nov 11, 2009

Since a good host always has coffee available at the end of a lovely dinner party, let's revisit one of the few coffee makers heralded by coffee connoisseurs and design enthusiasts alike. Patented in 1941 by the German born Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, its simplistic yet modern design landed it in MOMA's design collection just three years later.

While the Chemex Coffee Maker resembles an Erlenmeyer flask corseted with wood and belted with leather, the device functions rather simply. A heavy paper filter is placed into the Pyrex glass container, coffee grounds are added and then just boiling water is poured through. The result is said to be a concentrated, clean cup of coffee with no sludge or bitterness.

While none of Peter Schlumbohm's other inventions ever garnered the acclaim of the Chemex, they remain as shining examples of his functional design aesthetic.

Water Kettle, 1949.
Cocktail Shaker, 1943.
Fahrenheitor Ice-buoy Buffet, 1946.
Teamaker, 1954.

The Chemex Coffee Maker and Handblown Water Kettle are available for purchase from the Chemex Corp. While his other pieces are not in production anymore, they are part of MoMA's Architecture and Design Collection.

(Image credits: 1 - Chemex Corp, all others from MoMA)

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