History of the Unimatic Coffee Pot

The Unimatic coffee pot was conceived in Brooklyn and born in Italy over half a century ago. Brought to the world through the research of United Cookware, Inc., a stainless steel cookware company started in 1954 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn by an Italian immigrant named Peter Cardiello, it was the world’s first drip-percolator.

In the 1950s, waking up to the aroma of coffee wafting through the house was part of the American Dream and percolators were the go-to brew method. These types of pots were heated on the stove and “perked” the water up through a stem inside the pot to circulate the water and spread over the coffee grounds inside the basket to brew your coffee. They were known to be able to make great coffee, sometimes. The downside was that the pot needed to consistently be watched on the stove or it would end up over-perking and taste terribly bitter. Timers were set, fingers were crossed, but the only thing consistent about perking coffee was that the perfect cup was elusive…
As an Italian, and coffee lover, Cardiello wasn’t crazy about American brewing techniques. He’d affectionally joke that American coffee tasted like “dishwater.” That said, he was so proud to be an American citizen that he simply couldn’t dismiss the American way altogether and tout Italian coffee as the best. Instead, as any entrepreneur would, he set out to improve the percolator and augment the sacred ritual of coffee in the US. The result, was a reinvention of the percolator, also known as the “Unimatic” coffee pot.

It’s name was derived from a combination of the word “United” as in United Cookware, Inc., and “automatic” because it was the world’s first automatic drip-percolator. The Unimatic combined the perking process, the drip process and the way old Southern Italian stove from the early 20th century functioned. The invention created smooth, rich, arguably superior coffee - consistently. It evenly distributed heat, allowed the coffee to brew at decreasing temperatures, and incorporated the laws of nature to regulate extraction time and perk the perfect cup, every-single-time. Plus, it’s design allowed the pot to perk, away from the stove without wires or additional heat (a feat for the 1950s)!

From a design perspective, the Unimatic was created at at a time when Italian design was the pinnacle of chic. It’s (now) retro elements, from the mirror finish, to bold the bakelite handle, to the shape of the well and spout, to the type face used to inscribe Unimatic on the collar make it a perfect example of the “high Italian design” so famed from this period.
It’s design and functionality were influenced by the stove that Peter saw his mother cooking on growing up in Southern Italy. In the 1930s, these stoves were essentially fire places set below a row of coils that were meant to transfer the heat of the flame to the pot that sat atop them. Short of a science lesson, the beauty of the way the Unimatic brews is also in the method of heat transfer. The slow warming of the water within the same container that the coffee grounds are also present in allows both to rise in temperature together, and allows the coffee to begin to “bloom” before extraction begins, creating a rounder, smoother, richer brew than you’re used to with American coffee.

Discovery of the Unimatics: A love note from a daughter to her Dad.

The origin story of the Unimatic is one of breathing new life into old world traditions, of finding a way to keep generations of our family present in our everyday lives and reestablishing the sacred ritual of morning coffee in our busy schedules. It begins with my Dad…

A native of San Pietro al Tanagro, Italy who left home and settled in Brooklyn in the late 1940s. An entrepreneur through and through, he managed to do a little bit of everything over the course of his life and his passion for business and creativity greatly influenced mine. From a very young age, he involved me in his businesses. What other six year old has their own business cards? While his simply said, “P. Cardiello” with no additional title, mine boldly read, “Elisabeth Cardiello, Owner”... you can see where my future was headed.

Fast forward to the present, his eclectic life and background made clearing out his old office after I lost him when I was 26 years old an interesting task. I found remnants from all of his endeavors; it was as though he was still with me, walking me through his life. Hiding in this Brooklyn building behind a door I always thought led to a closet, I found boxes (stacked to the ceiling!) with no end in sight. I’d stumbled upon a secret warehouse, containing the last roughly 5,000 original models of a unique invention that he owned the patent on, had made in Italy and marketed from this very Brooklyn site in the both the US and Europe over 50 years ago. Rooms literally overflowing with these “drip-percolator” coffee pots, lovingly deemed “The Unimatic”, both stunned and excited me. These little pieces of history were the first, and likely the only, drip-percolators in the world. They function in a very specific way, which was revolutionary back then and is still (and maybe even more) relevant now! They harness the laws of nature to brew the perfect cup of coffee, right on your table, filling the room with that wonderful aroma - like the old days.
In my opinion, aside from the delicious coffee that they brew, the most compelling attribute is that they are the only ones of their kind left in the world. I am convinced that this treasure trove was his last push for me to jump into the waters of entrepreneurship and never look back... and that’s what I did. The Unimatic made me realize that those moments spent at the table together, asking questions, being brave, telling stories, those were the moments that gave me resilience, confidence and helped me find my voice. Those moments made me who I am.

The only thing I knew upon discovering these little gems was that I now had the opportunity to give those moments to ~5,000 other families - the moment that thought landed for me, I was in. There was no turning back. We at Caffè Unimatic believe that coffee is a fairly universal symbol of connection - to others, to ourselves, to the days of our lives and to the world we serve. As such, we believe that coffee has the power to spark change on a daily basis. Clearly, we think a lot about legacy and to us coffee is also a totem of inspiration, hope and positive forward movement. The Unimatic was always the centerpiece of our family table, as if she was "hosting" our conversations and witnessing our bravery. Now, her legacy is getting to host, witness and inspire yours...

Since becoming the purveyor of these little gems, life has been quite a journey - from the TEDx stage sharing both “How a Coffee Pot Changed My Life” and “The Most Powerful Question You’ve Never Considered”, to “Coffee For All” a documentary on Netflix telling our story and now getting to host Brave Conversations Over CoffeeR inside of companies and colleges in an effort to give the world a framework for how to have the hard conversations that we’re bottling up and letting bifurcate us and hold us back - we’re honored to continue sharing our story and inspiration to slow down, preserve traditions started by generations past and come together to be brave… over coffee.

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What the Unimatic family is saying…

When my husband and I finally received and opened the box with the Unimatic inside and I saw your personalized note, it brought tears to my eyes to know that we actually had in our hands part of your family's history. Thank you for letting us be a part of it!!

- Terry, family member of Unimatic #288

Thank you dearest Elisabeth for being the much needed catalyst for change. For sharing your remedy for our home life that has been suspended after much trial and trauma. We laughed, shared, marveled and lingered the table discussing your father’s creation. We spent time together as a family, enjoying the newness of what is usually the mundane. Creating your shared legacy... a cup of coffee. The Unimatic made our house a home... long gone are the quick days of the Keurig or nearest coffee shop. We look forward to spending tomorrow morning with Brunetta.

- Monica, family member of Unimatic #329

"Thank you so much, I happened to see the program on Netflix called Coffee for All. As you refer to my net coffee pot as a "her" she will be appropriately named "Grace" after my grandmother who gave me my first percolator coffee pot at the age of 18. Now as I brew coffee in the mornings I will think of my grandparents more often."

- Joe, family member of Unimatic #392

"I am truly happy with the Unimatic. A perfect cup of coffee and the story that goes with it even makes it more enjoyable."

- David, family member of Unimatic #418

Coffee has this magic of uniting people. In a world so digital, individualistic, I believe Elisabeth does an extra-ordinary job to reconnect the people we love the most. I could not fail remember the excitement and the happiness of receiving in NYC my Unimatic pot directly from the hands of my dear friend Elisabeth. An unforgettable day!

- Zeca, family member of Unimatic #443

I received this Unimatic as a gift yesterday and I am just tickled! The coffee is amazing and so very worth the wait. I love your story; keep on doing what you are doing - we all need an incentive to slow down.

- Hope, family member of Unimatic #526

I'm not functional until I've had my coffee, so I love coming out to the kitchen and seeing her on the stove! We now have our brave conversations, as we always have, with music playing in the background and the most delicious coffee we've ever tasted.

- Peg, family member of Unimatic #534

I love my Unimatic coffee pot. I love the fragrance of fresh perked coffee. it reminds me of the mornings when my grandmother made coffee. When I read about the Unimatic coffee pot I just had to have it. The aroma of fresh perked coffee in my apartment is wonderful and relaxing. The coffee that I ordered with it is also delicious. I keep my coffee pot on the stove, ready for the next day.!!

- Luisa, family member of Unimatic #603

We are so very happy for the Unimatic that we received yesterday :) This morning my wife bicycled to the local bakery for some croissants, meanwhile I cleaned the Unimatic and prepared for our morning coffee :) The coffee was outstanding and we simply love the Unimatic! We had a good long chat and enjoyed our coffee and croissant outside.

- Sturla, family member of Unimatic #625

I have to say I was emotional when I opened the box and unwrapped the Unimatic. My love of coffee comes from my Mom and Neapolitan grandmother. My fondest memories were in the summer and my parents liked to sit outside in the backyard talking after dinner and I would make coffee for all using that coffee pot. My Italian grandma loved afternoon coffee with anisette, and having coffee when visiting was a time to gather and chat. I hope I can persuade my daughter to slow down and enjoy a cup of Caffè Unimatic with me, she does love coffee.

- Madeleine, family member of Unimatic #630

My husband and I tried the San Pietro Brunetta and it was love at first sip and absolutely the best coffee that we have ever tasted. We can't wait for more...

- Christine, family member

Your Brunetta blend is a delight to the pallet! It is truly a different taste than an American coffee blend...roasting slow makes a better cup using the Unimatic in my opinion. Having the Unimatic with the Brunetta blend has made our mornings more pleasurable than ever....the coffee is rich with flavor as well as the conversation it stimulates while we slowly drink the pot. Thank you for creating the environment for an awesome morning to take place!

- Kimberly, family member of Unimatic #644

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and making coffee in my new Caffè Unimatic pot is the highlight of my meal-making ritual. Lingering over that mug of coffee while I work at my computer seems to “ground” me for the day. So far, I’ve only tried your San Pietro Brunetta blend (which I ❤️!) but I look forward to enjoying your Roma Bionda and Milano Mora blends, too. The big question is, is it ok to have more than one favorite?!

- Maria, family member of Unimatic #647

First of all I love, love my Unimatic! I first saw you on the Netflix documentary and fell in love with your story. I have a very similar coffee connection with my grandparents and I started drinking coffee with my grandma when I was about 5. I love the connection you make with your customers! I ordered my Unimatic and had it delivered to my best friends house to ensure it’s safe arrival. We seasoned it, made a couple of pots and tried different coffees with it. By the time we were done my friends ordered one for themselves!

- Ami, family member of Unimatic #649

I am blown away but honestly my intuition was right and I am not surprised. All the coffees are divine, and the coffee pot makes breathtaking brews.

- Alex, family member of Unimatic #656

I have never tasted or smelled coffee like this before. Even in Italy, I never had such an amazing cup of coffee as this one. Until now, my best cup ever was at Glile in Florence and they have been making coffee for hundreds of years. :+) I’ve been roasting my own coffee for 10 years as I couldn’t find a decent coffee. Now I am questioning my hard earn roasting skills!

- Jeff, family member of Unimatic #670

My wife & I have been thoroughly enjoying our Unimatic percolator. We never thought we would revert back to a method of coffee-making that seemed outdated, but we must say the taste of the coffee from the Unimatic is much smoother and more flavorful. No more bitter coffee for us! The Unimatic has become part of our morning ritual and we are enjoying every cup.

- Manny, family member of Unimatic #674

She arrived yesterday afternoon. We carefully unwrapped her packing and set her up to ‘season’ her, to then prepare her for her inaugural pot of coffee. She’s absolutely beautiful and we’re thrilled to be part of the Unimatic Coffee family. Thank you for the prompt shipment, great communication and, of course, the wonderful coffee!!!!

- Dorothy, family member of Unimatic #676

My Unimatic is my favorite thing I have bought in a long time. It is absolutely beautiful and brings me joy. I love the sound of the perk, I love how beautiful it looks on my table and it makes great coffee!! I love it!❤️ I speak Italian, have traveled to Italy Many times and have many friends in Italy. Every time I use it, I slow down, enjoy the conversation and feel like I’m in Italy!

- Shannon, family member of Unimatic #689

I must say, I love my Unimatic. The coffee is so pure, no burned taste, just perfection. I am the only caffeine consumer in our home which creates leftover coffee in the pot. I let it cool down and pour the remainder into a Mason jar and then straight into the fridge. Later in the day or the next morning I reheat a cup of it in the microwave and am good to go. Aesthetically, the pot looks nice sitting on the kitchen counter awaiting its next trip to the stovetop. So....A+++ on the Unimatic! Your father created a great percolator that solved the problem of over brewing. Also, the opening and unpacking of the box upon arrival was like Christmas morning! So much fun. You have done a brilliant job by including so much joy with the arrival of the Unimatic at one’s home.

- Jack, family member of Unimatic #703

First when I opened the package it was beautiful and I could tell just from that, how you value your product. Presentation does count and yours was perfect! I have been drinking coffee for years and I really thought that I knew what coffee tastes like. But sometimes in your life, you have a ""WOW"" experience that you will never forget. The first cup from the Unimatic was the FIRST TIME I ever tasted coffee!!! I really mean it! It was sooooo smooth and flavorful. I don't remember how I found your product but I equate that to finding a gold nugget amid a ton of rocks!! What a find...

- Robert, family member of Unimatic #708

From the moment I decided to purchase a Unimatic, even before watching the Netflix special, I had a feeling that this was more than “just a coffee pot.” The whole experience, from the website to the TED talk, to watching “Coffee for All,” to your Instagram, to the service I’ve received from your office....it has all been wonderful.

- Stephanie, family member of Unimatic #714