There are certain utensils in the kitchen that form part of the collective landscape and contribute to building an identity. We associate them with a certain period in our lives, regardless of whether we still use them today or not. And that is the case with antique pewter coffee machines, an item that belongs to another era but whose undeniable vintage style (apart from its durability) allows it to survive with dignity in our days.
Enamelled pewter coffee machines are generally marketed in red, blue or white, although in the most innovative designs, it is possible to find some other combination. And on this page, we are going to learn a little more about them.
In Latin America, especially in Mexico, pewter coffee machines are quite popular. However, in other countries, they are much less known, and that is why it is worth starting with a brief introduction about this curious material.
- 1 What is pewter?
- 2 Are pewter coffee machines safe?
- 3 Main advantages of pewter coffee machines
- 4 Pewter filter coffee machines
- 5 How do you use a pewter filter coffee machine?
- 6 Cinsa pewter coffee machines
- 7 How to use a pewter coffee machine with a cloth filter
- 8 But… is it possible to buy a pewter coffee machine?
What is pewter?
You may never have heard this name before. Technically, pewter is an alloy of several metals: tin, copper, antimony and lead. But if we put it in plain words, we could assimilate it as a kind of vitrified or enamelled steel. In fact, in Latin America, the terms pewter and enamelled steel are synonymous.
Pewter really has a percentage of tin that does not go below 85-90%, and then the presence in a small quantity of the rest of the minerals mentioned is what serves to give it different properties.
Its main qualities are durability and malleability (it is easily moulded), so it is widely used in ornaments and accessories. In Latin American regions, which is the focus of this article, coffee makers made of pewter are actually enamelled steel coffee makers and look similar to pewter:
Are pewter coffee machines safe?
The truth is that some of our younger audience won’t have the faintest idea that these coquettish enamelled steel coffee machines were once the queens of the kitchen. That’s because there was a time when they fell into disuse.
It was believed that the lead contained in the pewter was a highly toxic material that was eventually passed on to the food. And from there, it was only one step to ostracism. Pewter coffee machines and other articles made of this material were mercilessly and unceremoniously banished from the kitchen.
However, nowadays, we have more accurate and updated information. We know that there are different types of pewter depending on the metals and the percentage of each one contained in the alloy. In particular, the so-called fine pewter and trifle pewter do not contain any lead at all (or such low quantities that they have no influence on the composition). It is precisely these types of lead-free pewter that are used in the manufacture of kitchen utensils.
Main advantages of pewter coffee machines
If old pewter coffee machines were so popular and are still in use today, it is not only because they are beautiful or aesthetic. They must have a number of functional properties. Here are some of the advantages of a pewter coffee maker:
- It is a material that conducts heat very well. These coffee makers are perfect for keeping coffee hot for several minutes after brewing as if it were a kind of thermal carafe.
- It is very durable and resists high temperatures very well. It does not get damaged or deteriorate when put on the fire as it can happen, for example, with the classic Italian coffee makers.
- If you take good care of it, it can last a lifetime. In fact, some old pewter coffee makers are still in use today and are almost collector’s items.
Pewter filter coffee machines
What is commonly known as pewter coffee machines are actually coffee jugs, i.e. they are often not used to brew coffee but only as a container for storing and serving it in cups.
Be careful because often, when we talk about pewter coffee makers with the filter, we find simply the jug (which is not used to make coffee) and then the separate cloth filter. In other words, what would be a pewter coffee maker with a cloth filter in which the filter is a separate instrument that you could even buy or make on your own.
When we talk about a pewter coffee maker with a filter, we are referring to a filter that separates the coffee grounds from the ground coffee. This is what we find in this 1.5-litre red pewter coffee maker, for example. It is not the 2-litre one, but it is also quite large.
The filters in this model are white and have fewer (but wider) holes than those found in the filters of Moka coffee machines, for example.
How do you use a pewter filter coffee machine?
Time required: 6 minutes.
To use a pewter filter coffee machine, we will need ground coffee, water and sugar (if we want). The steps are very simple:
1. Place the base of the coffee maker and fill the pot with water
Don’t fill it up to the spout because then it might spill when boiling. Leave the water level a little below the pouring spout of the spout.
2. Add sugar to taste
Generally, use one teaspoon per person, depending on the amount of coffee you are going to prepare, but you can adjust it to your taste or even not use sugar at all. Remember that coffee made in a pewter pot is sweetened now, not later in the cup.
3. When the pot is full of water, place the filter and pour the ground coffee into it
You will have noticed by now that pewter coffee machines work in a similar way to Neapolitan coffee machines: the filter on top and the boiler with the water underneath.
4. Cover the coffee machine and put it on the stove.
All pewter filter coffee machines have a lid. Never put it on the stove without a lid: if it spills, you will make a mess.
5. When you see the coffee rising, remove the pot from the heat and pour it directly into the cup
And how do you know if the coffee has risen? Don’t worry: the lid will have a transparent area so you can see or some system to let you know when the coffee is ready.
If you still have any doubts about how to make coffee with a pewter coffee machine, you will be able to see it better through this video:
Cinsa pewter coffee machines
Cinsa is perhaps the most popular brand in Mexico when it comes to pewter coffee machines. Cinsa pewter coffee machines are an institution there. They work this material like no one else, and in fact, Cinsa not only manufactures and sells pewter enamelled coffee makers but even complete tableware.
In their catalogue, we find both classic and more modern designs, as we can see in the screenshot below taken directly from their website. And among the most popular models is the 2-litre pewter coffee machine, the largest version in the range, perfect for gatherings or large families.
How to use a pewter coffee machine with a cloth filter
If you are using a pewter coffee maker with a cloth filter, the procedure is somewhat different from what we have seen before in the case of pewter coffee makers with a normal filter.
And what is a fabric filter? Well, it is simply a cloth or mesh strainer, similar to the filters used to make our traditional pot coffee.
In this case, the coffee machine is not put on the fire, but you have to heat the water beforehand on your own (you can use a kettle) and then serve it on top of the cloth filter, where you will have previously placed the ground coffee for this brewing.
But… is it possible to buy a pewter coffee machine?
We have been saying all this article that pewter coffee makers are very popular, especially in Mexico. We have even talked about Mexican brands, but that does not mean that we cannot find them in other countries. In fact, there is a very well-known firm that works with special interest: Ibili.
What happens is that the term pewter is hardly used in other countries, and to look for them, you have to refer to enamelled or enamelled steel coffee machines. And this is where Ibili coffee machines stand out above the rest, both for their quality and for the breadth and variety of their catalogue: