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While you might have a sentimental attachment to the coffee pot that sits on your kitchen counter, some coffee pots were destined for fame – or at least for notoriety. These pots weren’t loved by just one person. Instead, they’ve achieved something that most coffee makers and coffee pots dare not dream of – their images and stories have been recorded in the annals of history. Some were the first of their kind, others just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
At least on has never brewed a pot of coffee, and another sold on eBay – a very fitting end for it, in fact – for almost $5,000 in 2001. Take a look at our list of the world’s most famous coffee pots. Read it out loud to your coffee maker. Who knows? Perhaps it too, aspires to the lofty heights of superstardom.
Undoubtedly the most famous coffee pot in the history of the Internet and the most viewed coffee pot in the history of the world (or at least the World Wide Web) lived in the computer lab at Cambridge University from 1991 until August 22, 2001. The computer lab was housed in a seven story building, and had one coffee pot. Network and internet researchers, frustrated at traversing half the world or four flights of stairs only to find the coffee pot empty came up with the idea of using the lab’s computer network to allow them to take a peek at the coffee pot from their desks. That idea eventually evolved into the world’s first webcam when researchers added the capability of viewing the picture over the internet rather than the buildings LAN. It really took off when a journalist, visiting the project to learn about research being conducted there, mentioned the coffee pot in a news story that he wrote. By 1998, over 2 million people had logged on to view the Trojan Room coffee pot.
In 2001, with the computer lab about to be relocated, the news broke that the Trojan room coffee pot was about to be switched off for the last time. Enterprising department heads took advantage of the publicity to put up the current coffee maker for auction at eBay, where it sold to Speigel Online for 3,350 pounds. Of course, to live up to truth in advertising, we have to admit that the Trojan Room Coffee Pot that sold was not the same one that first went online in 1991. It was replaced over the years at least seven times.
Back in 1858, a tinsmith by the name of Julius Mickey was having some troubles with a rival tinsmith down the street from his shop. The rival, it seems, was not above stealing customers from Mickey by the simple method of offering his services to anyone who stopped at his shop to inquire where they might find Mr. Mickey, the tinsmith. To identify his shop clearly and make it easy to find, Mr. Mickey constructed an enormous tin coffee pot that measured 16 feet around and 12 feet twelve. He placed the coffee pot as beacon to lost travelers in front of his store where it stood until the day in 1920 when an automobile careened into it, knocking it off its perch to nearly crush a pedestrian. The Salem aldermen ordered that it be taken down and placed where it would be less of a hazard. The public outcry about this decision forced the aldermen to reconsider, and the enormous coffee pot was returned to the front of the store, but off the street. Alas, automobiles and coffee pots do not mix.
In 1959, the construction of Interstate 40 threatened the pot. Its route was laid out to go directly through the center of the coffee pot. Once again, public outcry saved the Winston-Salem Coffee Pot, this time by declaring it a landmark and a symbol of the city. Rather than bend the road around it, though, the coffee pot was relocated to its present site, a grassy plot where the Old Salem bypass enters Main Street. Over the years, the Winston-Salem coffee pot has been the subject of many stories and tales.
Among the stories that have featured the famous coffee pot are those that claim a Civil War soldier (his allegiance to Blue or Grey varies with the teller of the tale) hid in the coffee pot to escape capture, and those that jokingly tell visitors that the coffee pot is used to brew coffee for the Moravians at Easter Sunrise service.
Cafe Reggio’s in New York’s Greenwich Village opened in 1927, and earned itself the title of “the original Cappuccino bar” when owner Domenico Parisi imported a La Pavoni espresso machine from Italy and began offering espresso made the Italian way. The machine, built in 1902, is an ornate brass-decorated beauty that still holds pride of place at Cafe Reggio’s. It’s claim to fame is a double one, though. In the mid-1950’s, a barista at Cafe Reggio’s used the La Pavoni to create the first American style cappucino – espresso with milk. It took nearly 25 years for the beverage to sweep the nation, and when it did, it was because Seattle-based coffee shops like Starbucks made it popular, but Cafe Reggio and the La Pavoni espresso machine that is still on display there have the credit for inventing it.