Incredible! After kind of disappearing for a few years, we've managed to find a balance brewer for easy purchasing (ie, it's not overseas), and it's actually under $150!
Balance brewers were based on the siphon coffee brewing method, and came out within a decade of the siphon brewer's invention (1840 for siphon brewers, 1850 for balance brewers). These were also the world's first "automatic coffee makers" in that they would automatically shut off through the elevated balance of the hot water kettle on the right side: as the kettle emptied of water (which moves over to the left side to brew), the kettle would rise, and a cap would then flip closed on the cloth wick heater below, stopping the heat.
With no more heat, the steam inside the kettle would revert back to water, create a vacuum, and suck all the brewed coffee back over from the brewing vessel. All this was done hands off - as the operator, all you had to do was add ground coffee to the left side, add water to the right side kettle, put a flame to the cloth wick, and let the device do the rest!
This is a great reproduction of those 19th century coffee brewers. Grab one while you can! The polished metal one is linked below, but there's also a Brass model available for the same price!
Column Description Whether it's up to the minute, happening this day, this week, or in the recent past, this column's goal is to present coffee and attempts to make the experience truly culinary. You'll find short reviews about past events, interesting coffees coming on the market, new and different ways to enjoy espresso and other brewing methods, and give an insight into efforts around the globe to make coffee a truly culinary thing. Column written by Mark Prince.