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Brewing Bad with a coffeemaker fit for Walter White’s chem lab

Cafe Balao
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Remember that scene in Breaking Bad where Walter meets Gale Boetticher for the first time, and Gale shows off his ridiculously elaborate chem-lab coffee machine? Well if you’ve ever wanted to brew your coffee like a mad, meth-cooking scientist, look no further than the Café Balāo from Portuguese design student Davide Mateus.

At first glance the contraption looks rather complicated, but don’t let the strange design fool you – it’s actually quite simple. Rather than relying on pumps and drip nozzles and complex filtration systems to make your brew, Café Balāo uses nothing more than basic percolation physics.

You start by loading the bottom pot full of water, then placing the second pot on top. Fill the upper chamber with grounds, and then insert the heating coil into the lower chamber filled with water. When plugged in, the coil will begin to rapidly heat the water, causing it to boil and rise up through the middle tube, where it then mixes with your coffee grounds and steeps for as long as you desire. When you’re satisfied with the brew, just unplug the coil. As the coffee in the upper bowl begins to cool, it will siphon back into the lower chamber, leaving the spent grounds behind.

Cafe Balao process
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Mateus, a student at ESAD.CR design shcool in Caldas de Rainha, hatched the idea for Café Balāo after seeing local chemists use a siphon coffee maker over a bunsen burner. IT inspired him to create a design that kept all the mad-scientist appeal of a siphon brewer, but without the danger of an open flame or external heating element.

We haven’t had a chance to try it out for ourselves, but according to Mateus, this laboratory-style setup results in a clean and delicious cup of coffee every time, thanks mostly to the glass construction and precise control over the length of the brew.

Unfortunately you can’t buy this thing just yet, but Mateus is hard at work adapting his first functional prototype for industrial production. He is currently looking for partners to make a mass-produced Café Balāo a reality in the near future.

Drew Prindle
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Drew Prindle is an award-winning writer, editor, and storyteller who currently serves as Senior Features Editor for Digital…
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