The Ethiopian goat herder, who found the strange beans and the tribal sheikh whom he took them to, found the beans themselves too bitter but the aroma, after they threw the beans in the fire, very enticing. The goal thereafter was to find the best methods for brewing coffee without tasting any part of the beans. By the 1700s coffee “percolators” – really just pots in which boiling water was poured – came out in Europe. By the 1800s they made it to the United States.
On this day, December 26, in 1865, James Mason of Franklin, Massachusetts registered the first U.S. patent for a coffee percolator.
Percolators made today brew coffee by means of a chamber holding water on the bottom and coffee beans in a separate basket on top, with a central tube connecting the two. Water on the bottom is boiled and rises through the tube to perk through the beans on top. Early percolators were heated by fire, until Westinghouse, General Electric and others introduced the electric percolators in the 1920s.