Our Stuff: Coffee Maker (Unser Zeug: Die Kaffeemaschine)

The morning coffee was made in this coffee pot at my grandparents’ house. It is a coffee pot/maker, with four different components, all white porcelain. A cylindrical filter sits on top of the pot, into which the coffee (coarsely ground) is added. On top of that, sits another piece –  a shallow cup with a few small holes punched around the perimeter into which the hot water is poured. The small holes allow the water to drip slowly over the coffee grounds. When the coffee is finished being brewed, the filter and water disperser are removed and replaced with a top that has a little acorn-shaped knob. The coffee is then ready to be served from the pot.

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My grandparents had several of these pots, in varying sizes. I’m not sure when they got them (wedding presents, perhaps?), but they brought them when they emigrated to this country in 1939 so they’re probably from the mid-30s. They brought a lot of things – aka stuff – with them, household items and clothes and more, all packed into crates for the ocean voyage. It’s odd to think of people bringing large amounts of their personal belongings (including huge pieces of furniture) when they are fleeing from a place with their lives in danger. But that is what happened. And now, in our family at least, we still have a lot of these things. The kitchen things – cookware and dishes and the like – are for the most part such beautiful, well-made and functional objects that my mother and I each use many of these items in our respective kitchens on a daily basis. This coffee pot is but one example. (My mother has one of the smaller ones).

Surprisingly, I just discovered that the company who made these pots, Walküre Porzellan, is still in business and continues to make this exact same model, the Karlsbader, today.

10 comments
  1. kme141 said:

    Beautiful! Something like this would make a great gift for my friends who refuse to get a percolator and use those unattractive plastic drip contraptions. Thanks for sharing such a great story!

    • sonya said:

      Thank for, kme141! Glad to hear you liked the coffee pot story. Yes, indeed, I think this would make a lovely gift for any coffee-loving friends. -Sonya

  2. Lisa Avedon said:

    Hello Sonya and hello to Gaby also. I am Gaby’s cousin, Lisa – my grandmother and her grandfather were siblings. I enjoyed your recipes and will pass them on to my son-in-law who is the family chef. I was surprised that you didn’t have one for Wiener Schnitzel, which was always a favorite of ours. I would be happy to share the one I have. All the best. Lisa

    • Gaby said:

      Lisa: Glad to hear from you. Yes it would be great to have your wiener-schnitzel recipe. Please send it. Do you think of it as a German Jewish recipe? This is one of the things we are very interested in – what differences there are between German Jewish and German versions of recipes.

  3. sonya said:

    Hi Lisa, Thanks for visiting our blog! Glad you enjoyed it. Yes, do pass along our recipes to your son-in-law. In fact, he can take a look at the blog himself, as we will be updating it on a regular basis and posting new recipes. Meantime, we’d love to see your Schnitzel recipe! best, Sonya

  4. Deb Vlock said:

    I love your blog, Gaby and Sonya! What a beautiful coffee pot — I feel like ordering one right away (maybe I will). I know what you mean about the weirdness of packing up all your stuff — even the big stuff — when you are fleeing for your lives. I wish I understood better the logisitcs of it. My grandparents did the same thing (china, which had to be packed with great care, furniture, etc), and I have always wondered about it but never asked, and now it’s too late. Even though my grandafther was arrested by the Nazis at the last minute and the plan changed, with my grandmother traveling alone with her two young children, the stuff somehow came over too. Very strange.

    Looking forward to more great posts! Deb (and Joerg)

    • Gaby said:

      Deb: I hope to do a post soon about the ‘lift van’ – the huge packing crate that Jews filled, at the behest of the Nazis, when they knew they had a place to go. The Nazi regime encouraged it because they received exorbitant taxes and i was a proof to them that one more Jewish family was leaving Germany. This all happened before the deadly final solution.
      Meanwhile, I hope we will receive a recipe from Joerg or from you soon.
      Best, Gaby

  5. sonya said:

    Thanks for reading, and for you comment Deb! Do you also have stuff from your grandparents? Let us know if you order a coffee pot – they really are wonderful to use. Best to Joerg. – Sonya

  6. Heidi said:

    I just pulled out the smallest Karslader pot today from the back of my cabinet. When my father passed away in 1994, I found a set of (5) of these pots in varying sizes like you described. Being ignorant and not having the room for all of the things I inherited, I sold all of them at a yard sale except for the smallest one. Now I regret it as I find them beautiful and would love to have displayed them in my home. Same as your grandparents, mine crated everything up, furniture, etc. and came to the States expecting to live here. They changed their minds and went back home to Hamburg, leaving 95% of their belongings with my father.

    • sonya said:

      Heidi, thanks for sharing your coffee pot story. It’s fortunate you saved the small one! I wonder, did your family eat German food when you were a child?

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