Silver “à la Belloy” coffee pot, which used the drip method.
Design registered in 1818 (photos from auction site).
The parts of the coffee maker, including a perforated basket for
the boiling water to drip through into the lower serving part.
Jean Baptiste, Count de Belloy (1709-1808) was archbishop of Paris from 1802 to 1808, appointed by Napoleon under an agreement with the Pope. De Belloy's most lasting accomplishment -- for posterity -- was inventing the drip, or filter, coffee maker, which he devised in 1800. Today, as most of us know, drip coffee is most often made using a paper filter rather than the multi-part drip coffee pot with a metal basket. Before De Belloy's invention, coffee was made by infusing coffee grounds in boiling water (presumably like the current French Press) or by boiling the grounds in water (like today's Turkish coffee).
Archbishop Belloy's invention is the ancestor of several popular coffee makers in recent use.
1950s style drip coffee pot (like my mother's).
Same design as the Archbishop's original.
Melitta drip coffee, using a paper filter. Invented in 1908 by Melitta
who patented the paper filter and founded the Melitta company.
The photo shows my Melitta equipment, which I sometimes still use.
Chemex coffee makers from the Chemex website. The Chemex was invented in 1941
by Dr. Peter Schlumbohm. It was very popular in the 1950s and is still made.
|Modern electric drip/filter coffee maker.
|The very most recent filter coffee?
The attribution of this invention to Archbishop de Belloy is mentioned in Grimod De La Reynière's Almanach, as I learned in my recent reading (blog post here). Shortly afterwards, Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, the famous and prolific inventor, worked on a drip coffee pot as well as on a percolator, which uses a different method for making coffee. Another inventor, Parisian tinsmith Joseph-Henry-Marie Laurens, also worked on the percolator at around that time.
An alternate history of the De Belloy drip coffee maker identifies a number of inventors, popularizers, and manufacturers who contributed to this innovation. A nephew of Archbishop De Belloy; the proprietor of a popular coffee shop in the Palais Royal; a pharmacist, chemist and inventor from Rouen named François-Antoine-Henri Descroizilles (1751-1825), and maybe a few more played a role in its invention. See the post "Elevator to Espresso" at The Black Blob Spot for a full exploration of this story.
I suspect that both the drip coffee pot and the percolator were ideas whose time had come! Increased availability of coffee beans, popularity of coffee shops, developments in metal-working technology, the economic and social aftermath of the French Revolution, and other factors could all have contributed to a flourishing of inventors.
I'm sharing this bit of technological and culinary history with my friends at Elizabeth's weekly blog event celebrating all manner of beverages.
The text of this post is © 2021 by mae sander, and if you read it elsewhere, it's been stolen!