The brainchild of German inventor Peter Schlumbohm, The Chemex coffee brewer is not only one of our favourite methods for extracting the finer flavours of a lighter roast, but is an icon of mid 20th century design.
Developed during the Depression years and in the lead up to World War Two, the story of the Chemex coffee maker is a combination of genius and practicality. Schlumbohm, who had migrated to the U.S. to escape Nazi Germany, brought with him the Bauhaus aesthetic popular in pre-war Europe. The conical shape of the top half of the flask and the rounded bottom manufactured from a single piece of glass typified the design principles of smooth functionality. With a wooden collar brought together by a leather strap at the neck, the Chemex coffee maker avoided any non-essential decorative motifs and being made of glass and natural materials, rather than aluminium or chrome meant that the coffee maker could enter into mass production when the latter materials were prioritised for war armaments.
With its success in the US home-market, it would not be long before the Chemex coffee brewer entered into the popular imagination in its use by spy James Bond in Ian Fleming's novel From Russia, With Love, and more recently as the Draper's coffee brewer of choice in the TV series Mad Men. So outstanding is the product's design and its image as a referent for mid-century design that it has been preserved by MoMA in New York.