Tom Metcalfe’s coffer maker isn’t going to make anyone’s morning routine quicker–that’s not the point. Instead, he sought to make the process a ritual, with the result being a Platonically perfect cup of coffee. The device is disarmingly simple: Two burners inside a lacquered box and three glass beakers. But the process is a bit more complex than your normal drip: First, you roast the beans yourself, for 7-9 minutes; then, you grind them, and finally they steep for four minutes. Not a quick pick me up–rather, a stubbornly slow one. The design details are spot on—witness the clever ribs in the roasting beaker, around minute 1:30 of the video below, which turn the coffee beans over. (If the beaker was smooth, the beans wouldn’t be heated evenly.)
It sounds like a stretch, but the idea of creating long-lived, statement products has profound implications. As Metcalfe says, “To achieve genuine sustainability, products must not be temporary or transient.” You might call that philosophy long-cycling–and designers are increasingly signing up for it, in an age where making new stuff rather than holding on to what we already have inevitably churns up more carbon. The MacArthur-fellow and inventor Saul Griffiths, for example, makes the intriguing point that buying a Rolex might be an environmental move. If you make a product that lasts ten times longer, that’s the same as cutting its carbon footprint by a factor of ten:
Here’s a couple more nice images of the coffee maker:
Do you guys have any examples of design that can last a lifetime?