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A THIRD OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE

P1010450

Coffee became an obsession. Gimmicks come and go. Go to pretty much any provincial high street and there will be a place to serve you latte art, flat whites and every over fussy coffee option.

The elegant choice, for me, remains the classic stove top capillary pot.

As a piece of equipment it is simple and pared back to the point, almost, of crude.

The cast body is bright and polished when new. Years of exposure to a flame gives it a deep, dark hue. Do not attempt to remove the patina. The really beautiful examples are those that have been handed down from generation to generation. A humble but very useful heirloom.

The pot enables a coffee making process as pure as is possible. Ground coffee, water and a flame. And time.

It is quiet ritual. The breath and whisper of the flame is the call. The eventual gurgle of the boiling coffee rising into the top chamber is the response. 

Be careful. The casement, the body gets dangerously hot. The handle tends to get too hot to hold. A tea towel comes in handy. Don’t let the final stage go on too long. Water boiled, coffee spoiled.

Handling the pot is akin to handling a weapon.

The heat in the metal shell means you need to place the pot on a suitable surface. I have a piece of very old carrera marble which I keep for the sole purpose of protecting the table from the searing heat. This, itself, adds an element of ceremony and occasion to the ritual.

Obviously it is not the way every cup of coffee is made. Time, the lack of a flame, whatever, sometimes I just need a cup of coffee. Quick. 

Weekends, however, are different. A New York Times, fresh bread and the smell, and sound, of slowly brewing coffee is a moment of elegance that nobody should be prevented from enjoying.

Elliot March heads up the March & White New York studio. When relocating from London to Tribeca he packed his trusty 4 cup pot in his hand luggage. Tricky going through customs at both ends but worth the effort. Elliot recommends high roasted Ethiopian beans from Lofted Coffee in Brooklyn.

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