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the detailed review - balance brewers
Balance Brewers - Product Overview
Introduction | Overview | Form & Function | Operation and Taste | Cleanup & Care | Comparisons | Conclusion
Royal Brewer
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The most beautiful coffee maker I know, worth every penny...
Jeroen Vriesendorp, Jan 13, 2002
More of Jeroen Vriesendorp's Review:
Kenneth Davids dubbed its predecessor, the Swiss made Odette, "something out of captain Nemo's submarine", which pretty accurately summarises most peoples first impressions - including mine. The Royal vacuum brewer works on the same principle as the...
The ultimate in brewing for taste and beauty.
Rebecca Herndon, Apr 16, 2002
More of Rebecca Herndon's Review:
Buying the Royal was the biggest step I have taken with coffee. The biggest step before that was deciding to stop getting mochas so I could actually taste the coffee. I list my expertise as intermediate because I know a decent amount of coffee trivia,...
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Visually stunning is not an apt enough word to describe the look of the Cafetino and Royal (pictured) balance brewers when you first take them out of the box. CoffeeGeeks around the world are fortunate that in the espresso world, (and to a lesser extent, the coffee world) artistry and design style are considered part and parcel of the "scene". Machines like the Belle Epoque from Elektra, the La Marzoco FB70, and even the La Pavoni Romantica lever espresso machines are just some of many machines that combine visually stunning presentation engineering and design with performance and results in the cup.

The Cafetino, and especially the Royal balance brewers readily join this tradition.

Patrick's Van Den Noortgaete's Royal brewer is in many ways a precise model of devices that were invented and sold in the 1840s and 1850s. Most modern day coffee and espresso lovers probably don't know this, but the period between 1820 and 1860 was an exciting and innovative time in the history of coffee brewing equipment. One event was more responsible for this than anything else - the invention, refinement and proliferation of steam power.

The traditional vacuum brewer came first - the device with two globes, one on top of the other, with a siphon tube running between them and a filtering device at the top of the siphon. Next came the Naperian, which did operate on the vacuum brew principle, but only one way - you added boiling water to the coffee-grounds container, and a small bit of boiling water to the empty globe which had a flame under it. The flame would continue to expand the gases in the globe, thus forcing steam through a siphon over to the grinds and boiling water side. Once you removed the flame, the contraction of the gases would suck the coffee liquor over, leaving the grinds behind.

Many other devices came out rapidfire; some were vac pots (two globe versions) with a variety of slightly "automatic functions", but their eventual commercial sale probably never happened - the devices that were patented were far too complicated.. During this period, (around 1844 or 1845) the balance brewer came out.

Click for larger image
This is the patent drawing for an 1852 "advanced" balance brewer, that overcame some seal and glass problems of designs from the previous 10 years. Click image to enlarge.

By today's standards, the principal behind the balance brewer may seem simple, but in 1844, it was a very radical concept. In fact it was probably one of history's first successful and marketable "automatic" kitchen appliances. By putting the water in one vessel (the kettle), a counterweight lighter than the kettle+ water was raised, which through a balance mechanism made the kettle sit lower.

This lower position allowed the spring loaded (or weight balanced) lid of a "stove" (which used oil or spirits) to sit open beneath the kettle. Once lit, it would heat up the water. Some of the water would vaporize into gas and expand inside the closed kettle. This expansion pushed the remaining liquid water (which itself cannot compress) up a siphon and over to another vessel. As the water left the kettle, the counterweight would eventually win the balance of weights, and the kettle would lift. Once it lifted to a certain height, the lid for the stove would snap shut, thus extinguishing the flame.

With the heat source eliminated, the remaining water and water vapor would cool and contract, and the suction from this would pull the brewed coffee back into the kettle, where it could then be served from a spigot.

This was the design in the 1840s, and this is essentially the design of Coffee4You's brewers today.

The Cafetino is a more modernized version of this technology, using springs instead of a counter balance, and polished stainless steel. The Royal on the other hand looks like it came right out of a Paris shop in 1850, and in many ways matches the original patents for this type of brewing mechanism - patents that date back to 1842 and 1844.

Out of the Box

Royal in the box

Both products are packed meticulously well. They traveled some 8,000 miles or more to get to me, with nary a scratch, a ding, or a crack. Coffee4You has perfected the art of safe packing, providing a stable and safe cocoon for both devices. They ship almost ready to use, straight out of the box.

Before I took delivery of these brewers, my only impression of them was from images found online. Those photographs simply do not do these balance brewers justice (nor the ones on these pages).

The Royal especially stands out as an amazing piece of craftsmanship when you see it in person, even more than the Cafetino. On Coffee4You's website, the Royal and its various versions look a bit too grand for my normally preferred tastes, but in person, it left me speechless: it is that beautiful.

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Introduction | Overview | Form & Function | Operation and Taste | Cleanup & Care | Comparisons | Conclusion
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Detailed Review Sections
Arrow 1. Introduction
Arrow 2. Overview
Aarow 3. Form & Function
Aarow 4. Operation and Taste
Aarow 5. Cleanup & Care
Aarow 6. Comparisons
Aarow 7. Conclusion
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