Local News

July 16, 2014

Do you know what this is?


This past week's artifact from the Nelson Pioneer Farm is an automatic coffee grinder.

Some people submitted their guesses as to the identity of the artifact.

Morris and Eileen Wubbels wrote via email: “The artifact shown in this week's shopper is a coffee grinder but it is incomplete.  It should have a small cup that hangs at the bottom to catch the grounds as they come out of the grinder.  We have one exactly like this but it is complete.”

David Lloyd Corbett wrote via Facebook: “Grain grinder."

Kayla Scholtus also wrote via Facebook: “Coffee grinder?”

Nelson Pioneer Farm Curator Kelly Halbert did some research on the artifact. She wrote: “Automatic Coffee Grinder c. 1900

Coffee has been a popular drink for centuries. Creating the perfect blend and grind has been the pursuit of generations of coffee connoisseurs. This artifact is called The Automatic Coffee Grinder, however, it is not exactly automatic! On close examination – the top canister is a storage unit for the coffee beans and the bottom drawer delivers the ground coffee and a hand crank does the work to grind the beans. The only part that has been automated is the delivery of beans to the grinder.

The first American patent for an improved coffee grinder was granted to Thomas Bruff Sr. In 1798. His invention was the beginning of the wall mounted coffee mill. Evolving from the 17th century spice mills, this wall mounted or side mill was designed to regulate coarse or fine grind by adjusting a thumb screw. It was screwed into a wall or the side of a cabinet for convenience.

Today making coffee utilizes as many varieties of appliances as there are types of grinds and favors. Historically, on the farms and frontiers of America, there was the standby – boiled coffee with the added egg, presumably to settle the grounds. These directions for Boiled Coffee are from the Enterprising Housekeeper cookbook of 1906.

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