Collections: John McCormick’s Vintage Espresso Makers

The designer and restaurateur shares a few favorites of his 70-plus antique coffee makers

For designer and restaurateur John McCormick, who owns Brooklyn spots St. Mazie Bar & Supper Club and Café Moto (co-owned by Bill Phelps), antiquing isn't just a hobby—it's a way of life. Over the past twenty years, he has amassed a collection of around 70 vintage European coffee makers, including many rare models. He invited us into the turn-of-the-century Dumbo loft he shares with his wife Vannesa Shanks for a glimpse of his favorites. —Laura Itzkowitz

Made in Italy, the Stella was popular in the early 20th century. It could be used for camping, since the bottom portion is lit like a Bunsen burner. Here it’s pictured with antique espresso cups from the former Czechoslovakia, which John found at a flea market in Soho. Stella coffee pots, price upon request at
John set his sights on a Cona coffee pot after seeing one in a display case at MoMA. Within a year, he found this one from circa the 1920s in a thrift shop. Made in England, they work by vacuum and look like a piece of equipment from a science lab; the original design dates back to the 1850s. Cona Glass Coffee Maker, price upon request at
John bought this FTM Unipress on a cycling trip in Belgium. The Art Deco coffee maker is no longer being manufactured, but occasionally one from the 1920s-‘50s appears on Ebay for around $50.
Also a Stella, this model was made in Italy in the 1950s; it’s electric and works much like a Moka pot. The company was founded in 1924 in Ferrara—their models always have a star on the knob. “I like them because modern ones are encased in plastic, but these are machine age design,” John says. Stella coffee pots, price upon request at
The design for Atomic coffee makers has been around since the 1940s. Thomas Cara, who opened San Francisco’s first espresso retail business in 1946, imported them to his shop in the 1950s, though the company that produced them went out of business long ago. As water in the base heats up over the stove, it gets pushed to the top, where it filters back down through the coffee grounds. Atomic Coffee Machine, $495 at
This Atomic coffee maker features a steamer for making cappuccinos. After making the coffee, you’d simply plug up the spout using a metal pin attached to the red knob and pressure would build in the small pipe off to the side. Atomic Coffee Machine, $495 at
The classic Moka pot is manufactured by many different brands in Italy. This one is an electric Girmi, but today Bialetti is the most widely available brand. Before John installed a professional espresso machine at Café Moto, he used to serve coffee in these alongside grilled donuts. The steaming pots made for a dramatic presentation. Bialetti Moka Express, from $24.99 at
This AMA Milano espresso machine has rubber around it so you can unscrew the top without burning your hand. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Thomas Cara used to get them from an Italian family in Brooklyn. AMA Milano Coffee Machine, $139.99 on
This Stella operates similarly to the first one. It was one of the most widely used models in early 20th century Italy. The coffee sits in a filter just below the knob, and a pipe pushes water up through the grounds and down the spout. Stella coffee pots, price upon request at
Velox is another brand made in Ferrara, Italy. By the 1950s, when this coffee pot was manufactured, many brands were incorporating plastic into their designs. These were used mainly for traveling—people could easily transport them and set them up in their hotel room. Velox electric espresso maker, $97.99 at

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