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Thread: MArlowe's coffee

  1. #1
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    MArlowe's coffee

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Here, see if you can work out what Philip Marlowe, PI, is making here. Don't cheat. Read it and see if you can work it out yourself (but I don't think it's that hard):

    "What the hell's the matter with me sleeping such a lovely morning away? Ten-fifteen, huh? Well, there's plenty of time. Let's go out to the kitchen and I'll brew some coffee."
    "I'm in a great deal of trouble, shamus." Shamus, it was the first time he had called me that. But it kind of went with his style of entry, the way he was dressed, the gun and all.
    "It's going to be a peach of a day. Light breeze. You can hear those tough old eucalyptus trees across the street whispering to each other. Talking about old times in Australia when the wallabies hopped about underneath the branches and the koala bears rode piggyback on each other. Yes, I got the general idea you were in some trouble. Let's talk about it after I've had a couple of cups of coffee. I'm always a little lightheaded when I first wake up. Let us confer with Mr. Huggins and Mr. Young."
    "Look, Marlowe, this is not the time-"
    "Fear nothing, old boy. Mr. Huggins and Mr. Young are two of the best. They make Huggins-Young coffee. It's their life work, their pride and joy. One of these days I'm going to see that they get the recognition they deserve. So far all they're making is money. You couldn't expect that to satisfy them."

    I left him with that bright chatter and went out to the kitchen at the back. I turned the hot water on and got the coffee maker down off the shelf. I wet the rod and measured the stuff into the top and by that time the water was steaming. I filled the lower half of the dingus and set it on the flame. I set the upper part on top and gave it a twist so it would bind.

    By that time he had come in after me. He leaned in the doorway a moment and then edged across to the breakfast nook and slid into the seat. He was still shaking. I got a bottle of Old Grand-Dad off the shelf and poured him a shot in a big glass. I knew he would need a big glass. Even with that he had to use both hands to get it to his mouth, He swallowed, put the glass down with a thud, and hit the back of the seat with a jar.
    "Almost passed out," he muttered. "Seems like I've been up for a week; Didn't sleep at all last night."

    The coffee maker was almost ready to bubble. I turned the flame low and watched the water rise. It hung a little at the bottom of the glass tube. I turned the flame up just enough to get it over the hump and then turned it low again quickly. I stirred the coffee and covered it. I set my timer for three minutes. Very methodical guy, Marlowe. Nothing must interfere with his coffee technique. Not even a gun in the hand of a desperate character.
    I poured him another slug.
    "Just sit there," I said. "Don't say a word. Just sit."
    He handled the second slug with one hand. I did a fast wash-up in the bathroom and the bell of the timer went just as I got back. I cut the flame and set the coffee maker on a straw mat on the table.
    Why did I go into such detail? Because the charged atmosphere made every little thing stand out as a performance, a movement distinct and vastly important. It was one of those hypersensitive moments when all your automatic movements, however long established, however habitual, become separate acts of will. You are like a man learning to walk after polio. You take nothing for granted, absolutely nothing at all.
    The coffee was all down and the air rushed in with its usual fuss and the coffee bubbled and then became quiet. I removed the top of the maker and set it on the drainboard in the socket of the cover.

    Extract from "The Long Goodbye" - Raymond Chandler - 1953
    Last edited by flynnaus; 11th December 2014 at 11:02 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Morning Flynn, sounds like a syphon to me.

  3. #3
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Morning Flynn, sounds like a syphon to me.
    That certainly fits Yelta and it is what I thought as well. I was also confused by the mention of 'wetting the rod'.

    In another Marlowe story, he was using a percolator.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flynnaus View Post
    That certainly fits Yelta and it is what I thought as well. I was also confused by the mention of 'wetting the rod'.

    In another Marlowe story, he was using a percolator.
    Wetting the rod also caused me a little consternation Flynn, on contemplation given he was still half asleep I figured he was dreaming about a nocturnal activity fictitious private detectives also seem to indulge in to excess.

    Carter Brown was particularly fond of it.

  5. #5
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Carter Brown was particularly fond of it.
    Along with several other pulp fiction writers of that ilk.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    1950s US and the reference to the 'rod' makes it pretty likely that this is a stove top percolator me thinks.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Percolators use a tube, not a rod.

    The coffee was all down and the air rushed in with its usual fuss and the coffee bubbled and then became quiet.
    Clearly not a description of a percolator but rather of a syphon.

    Many of the syphons of that era use a glass rod as part of the grounds filtering. Wetting the rod likely is done so the coffee grounds stick to the filtration area rather than falling through into the water prior to its boiling.


    Java "Nup! Not a percolator!" phile

    Syphon Rod.JPG
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    On reflection, wetting the rod, that is the glass tube of the top bowl allows it to slide easily into the rubber seal of the water container, bottom bowl, ensuring a good seal.

    How do I know this? in the distant past I owned a Bodum Santos syphon, the answer came to me while watching the cricket.

    The device being described is definitely a syphon.

    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=b...ml%3B400%3B313

  9. #9
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    On reflection, wetting the rod, that is the glass tube of the top bowl allows it to slide easily into the rubber seal of the water container, bottom bowl, ensuring a good seal.

    How do I know this? in the distant past I owned a Bodum Santos syphon, the answer came to me while watching the cricket.

    The device being described is definitely a syphon.
    While the newer syphons use a cloth, paper, or metal filter to keep the grounds in the upper chamber and hence only have a tube many of the older models used a glass rod to keep the grounds from making their way into the lower chamber. These older models also had the glass tube that the newer models have.

    In the story he refers to both a rod and a tube in the coffee maker. If he was wetting the tube why first call it a rod? Additionally the rubber that seals the top to the bottom was typically installed on the upper chamber at the factory and was never removed in use. When using it the only part of the rubber that would be wetted would be the outer part of it so it would be easier to twist and seal against the lower chamber. The Rod's middle section could be wetted prior to installing it to help keep any of the dry grounds from falling through into the lower chamber.

    While there may have been other glass rod designs the two that I have seen in vintage syphons I've attached pictures of.

    The first design used a solid glass rod as shown in the first picture. The right side is the part that sits down inside the tube going to the lower chamber. The wide part in the middle is what sits in the throat of the tube. The rough looking area is what allows water but not grounds through. The left side remains in the upper chamber and has a bulge/knob on top for ease of grabbing. In this design the weight of the rod is what keeps it in place and provides the pressure to keep the grounds in the upper chamber.

    The second design is the same as the first from the middle up. The lower part rather than being an extension of the rod is a spring with a stiff wire with a hook at the end of it along with a short ball chain. The ball chain is used to pull the wire, against the tension of the spring, to set/unset the hook over the bottom of the tube. Thusly the rod is held in place by the tension on the spring. This is the design that was then used when the middle/upper glass rod part was replaced with a metal/cloth filter.


    Java "Notice in the first picture that the part is clearly labeled as a Rod." phile
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    Last edited by Javaphile; 12th December 2014 at 09:49 AM.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Interesting , had not heard of the rod arrangement before, however, we do agree! it's a syphon.



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