Coffee mill

France(?), 1st half 18th century
Cherrywood, brass
height 20 cm, base plate 10.7 x 10.7cm
Inv. 1968.54.

3845px x 4822px
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When coffee reached Europe via the Middle East just over 300 years ago, the roasted beans were ground with a mortar and pestle and kept in a bag sealed with wax or grease. Pulverisation took place either by further grinding in the mortar or in a suitable spice mill. Mills with a mechanism specifically for grinding coffee, produced by smiths in precious metals, were undoubtedly invented in different places; for example, the German town of Remscheid was exporting them all over the world from more than 20 workshops at the end of the C18. The body housing the axial grinding mechanism is made of a single, finely worked piece of cherrywood and is embellished with rich Berain decoration of engraved brass. The neck is bevelled to allow a good grip while grinding. The lid of engraved brass is rivetted to the body; one half of the lid opens, and is secured by a hook and eye. The drawer for the coffee powder is grooved and pegged and reinforced with wood dowels and wire. A simple catch prevents the container from sliding out during grinding.

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