Friday, June 25, 2010

Coffee, the Guardian Service Way

We found the coffee pot, caked with dust, in one of those about-to-close antique shops that seem to fade in and out of existence. The stacked shelves and darkened aisles were laden with a lifetime's acquisitions (or its remaining shards) and the stepdaughter of the dead proprietress was anxious to part with anything for about ten bucks.

I picked up the weighty-looking urn, surprised by how relatively light it was, turned it over and saw the embossed logo: a knight's helmet and the words "Guardian Service." We brought it home, polished it up and Aladdin-like, the djinni of our mid-century cookware obsession was unleashed, inspiring a deeper food philosophy and eventually this blog.

While passionate about savoring a proper cup of coffee brewed the Guardian Service Way, I admit that most mornings I grope my way to the kitchen and switch on the automatic Krups, more interested in hastening its effect than enjoying its flavor. But on slow mornings or with "farmhouse breakfasts," this method brings out a deep range of scents and flavors and makes one toothsome cup of Joe.

The complete Coffee Maker/Beverage Urn has five pieces total: the Beverage Urn and lid (as with all Guardian Service ware, the pre-War models had metal lids which were later replaced by glass) and the "Dripper" unit (with filter and water distributor). You'll also need a separate kettle in which to boil the water.

From Betty Gay's "Guardian Service Tested Recipes," the proper method for making coffee in the Guardian Service Ware Coffee Maker:

Guardian Coffee
"Served piping hot to the last delicious drop... a happy ending to any meal."

"You've heard the one about coffee—How one morning it's strong enough to stand alone and the next morning too weak to get up. Not so, when prepared the Guardian Way, for coffee clear, sparkling and full of the natural aroma of the roasted bean will be yours every time. Your Guardian Service Coffee Maker and Beverage Urn prepares coffee by a method that science is proving most satisfactory for flavor, health and economy. It is graceful in design and so convenient for service coffee, as well as other hot and cold beverages at the table."

"Guardian Consistently Good Coffee"

  1. Heat the beverage urn by rinsing with hot water.
  2. Place dripper in top of urn and put filter disc with seam side down in bottom of dripper.
  3. Measure into dripper, 2 teaspoons (1 level tablespoon, if a richer flavor is desired) of standard or drip grind coffee per cup. Do not use pulverized coffee*.
  4. Place water distributor over coffee, pressing down firmly but not tight.
  5. Pour in actively boiling water to desired measure. Use fresh cold water brought to a rolling boil. (Dripper is marked 2–4–6–8 cups.) For ten cups, measure proper amount of coffee in dripper, add eight cups of boiling water and when filtered thru, add 2 cups clear boiling water and mix.
  6. Cover and place over very low heat or on warm part of stove. Allow about 1 minute per cup for coffee to drip.
  7. When coffee has dripped thru, remove dripper, place cover on urn, adjusting cover with long flange in front of spout to retain heat.

Note: When using urn for table service, place a mat or table tile underneath to protect table from heat. Use Guardian Urn for various iced drinks. During the summer weather especially, the Guardian Urn will do double duty as a beverage pitcher. It acts as a "thermos" container for cold drinks as well as hot.

Iced Coffee: Prepare coffee double strength, cool to room temperature, Fill tall glasses half full of cracked ice or use 2 ice cubes. Pour coffee into glasses. Serve with cream, pass sugar syrup in a pitcher for sweetening (a spoon of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream in each glass is a welcome addition).

*Some espresso grinds may work, but pulverized varieties like Turkish or Greek coffee may leave a gritty finish.


  1. Great to find this blog. My wife and I have an extensive collection of Guardian Service cookware and extra stuff.

  2. Thank you for this post, my wife and I just purchased one of these pots today and were looking for more info on how it fits together and the coffee to water ratio.

  3. Thank You for this blog. I just purchased 5 pieces with glass lids including a coffee pot yesterday and thought of selling it. But after reading the blog, I am having second thoughts, especially the coffee pot and roaster.

  4. How can I purchase the coffee pot filter that I am missing?

    1. Check with any of the links under RESOURCES above. Ebay has several complete coffee sets for bid, though occasionally the filter alone will come up for bid. Good luck!

  5. I am so happy that I discovered your site. I just inherited over a dozen complete pieces some with both glass and metal lids. We were curious how the coffee pot worked. Mystery solved, now if I can only get the filter out, (it's jammed) i'll be on my way to a fun cup of coffee.

    1. Thanks, Rhonda. I'm having a cup of Guardian Service joe as I write.
      If the water distribution cap is jammed, you might try wiggling the handle back and forth with a pair of pliers. (I recently dropped our filter and bent it out of alignment, but was able to fix it with pliers—that's solid mid-century construction!).

  6. I've been collceting coffee brewing devices for a while (I'm at a bout two dozen now), and have been looking at these, simply for their unique look. Looks like I'll have another addition come the weekend.

    Old-school coffee brewing is coming back into style, it seems. Thanks for helping keep it alive!

  7. FINALLY! I know how my Guardian Service Coffee Pot works! Thank you!