The Chemistry of Coffee in Breaking Bad: Exploring Gale’s Coffee Maker

Coffee in Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad, the critically acclaimed television series, captivated audiences with its compelling storytelling and intricate depiction of chemistry. One memorable element of the show was Gale Boetticher’s elaborate coffee-making apparatus. Inspired by this fictional creation, real-life chemistry enthusiasts and coffee aficionados have delved into the science behind Gale’s coffee maker. In this article, we will explore the chemistry of coffee and analyze the plausibility of Gale’s coffee-making methods.

The Inspiration

Gale’s coffee maker in Breaking Bad intrigued viewers with its intricate design and emphasis on maintaining optimal conditions to extract the best flavor from coffee. The inspiration for this machine came from the concept of controlling variables such as temperature and time to achieve the perfect cup of coffee.

Temperature and Coffee Flavor

Temperature plays a critical role in the extraction of flavor compounds from coffee beans. In the Chemistry Stack Exchange discussion, it is suggested that Gale believed that lower temperatures could enhance the flavor of coffee. In fact, scientific studies have shown that brewing coffee at lower temperatures can reduce the extraction of bitter compounds, resulting in a smoother and more palatable cup.

Quinic Acid and Bitterness

One compound often associated with the bitterness of coffee is quinic acid. While not the sole contributor to coffee bitterness, quinic acid plays a significant role. Gale’s belief in controlling quinic acid levels is consistent with scientific research. By understanding the chemistry behind coffee bitterness, coffee enthusiasts can experiment with different brewing methods to minimize its presence.

Vacuum Brewing and Gale’s Machine

Gale’s coffee maker is often referred to as a vacuum brewer. This method uses a partial vacuum to extract coffee at lower temperatures. While the setup depicted in Breaking Bad may not be functional, the concept of vacuum brewing is legitimate. In vacuum brewing, water is heated and forced upward into a chamber containing coffee grounds. The subsequent drop in pressure lowers the boiling point of the water, resulting in a gentler extraction process.

The Realism of Gale’s Machine

While Gale’s coffee maker in Breaking Bad may have captivated viewers with its intricate design and scientific aura, it is important to address the realism of the machine from a practical standpoint. Here are some points to consider regarding the feasibility of Gale’s device:

  • Functionality: The specific setup depicted in the series is not functional in real life. The connections and components of the apparatus lack scientific coherence and do not conform to established coffee brewing principles. It is important to remember that Breaking Bad is a work of fiction, and artistic license has been taken in the depiction of Gale’s coffee maker.
  • Vacuum brewing: Despite the unrealistic depiction of Gale’s machine, the concept of vacuum brewing itself is legitimate and has been used in various coffee brewing methods. Vacuum brewing, also known as siphon brewing, relies on the principle of creating a partial vacuum to extract coffee flavors at lower temperatures. However, the equipment shown in the series is not an accurate representation of a working vacuum brewer.
  • Safety concerns: Gale’s device raises concerns about safety and practicality. The complex and intricate nature of the connections and components depicted in the series could potentially lead to accidents or inefficiencies. Real coffee brewers are designed with safety, ease of use, and efficiency in mind.
  • Simplified alternatives: In reality, there are simpler and more practical ways to achieve desired coffee flavors. Brewing methods such as pour-over, French press, espresso machines, and drip coffee makers have been refined over time and offer reliable and consistent ways to extract flavors from coffee beans. These methods are widely used by coffee enthusiasts and professionals alike.
  • Experimental nature: It is worth noting that Breaking Bad is a fictional show that often emphasizes the eccentricities and idiosyncrasies of its characters. Gale’s elaborate coffeemaker serves as a representation of his personality and dedication to the art of brewing coffee. The exaggerated design of the machine adds to the intrigue and mystique surrounding his character.


Breaking Bad’s depiction of Gale’s coffee maker has sparked fan curiosity and discussion within the chemistry and coffee communities. While the specific device may be fictional, the underlying principles of temperature control and the use of vacuum brewing techniques are grounded in scientific understanding. Exploring the chemistry of coffee allows us to appreciate the complexity and nuance of this beloved beverage. So the next time you enjoy a cup of coffee, remember the chemistry behind it and perhaps experiment with different brewing methods to enhance your coffee experience.


What is the purpose of Gale’s coffee maker in Breaking Bad?

Gale’s coffee maker in Breaking Bad serves as a visually compelling representation of his passion for precision and attention to detail. While the specific device depicted on the show may not be realistic or functional, its purpose is to reflect Gale’s meticulous nature and his desire to make the perfect cup of coffee. The elaborate setup highlights his dedication to the art of brewing coffee and adds an element of uniqueness to his character.

How did they make coffee in Breaking Bad?

Throughout the rest of season three and into season four, in fact, Walter only drinks coffee that he makes with the siphon filter. It’s a shame that there’s no deleted scene of Walt going home and destroying his drip brewer or Keurig K-Cup machine…

What does Jesse put in Walts coffee?

As mentioned in the episode’s Wikia page: Jesse prepares coffee and slips some sleeping pills into Walt’s cup in an effort to force him to get some much-needed sleep. “Let the traps do the work,” he says.

What liquid was used in Breaking Bad?

In a gruesome scene, Jesse adds hydrofluoric acid (HF) to dissolve the body. It’s a useful acid to have in any lab because of its unusual chemistry. It dissolves glass and so has to be stored in plastic (PTFE or Teflon) bottles.

What is Gale listening to in Breaking Bad?

What song is Gale listening to when Gus shows up at his apartment? It’s called Crapa Pelada, which translates to ‘bald head’. It was written in 1936 by italian composer/lyricist Gorni Kramer, based on an old italian nursery rhyme.

Is siphon coffee better?

So… What exactly so special about Siphon coffee ? It produces the best favor, vibrant tasting coffee that cannot be imitated by a drip brewer. Also, you will get an extremely clean and bright cup, no trace of the coffee grounds left in the bottom of the cup after you finished it.

How does a coffee Siphon work?

The Siphon works by heating and cooling the water gases (vapor) from the lower vessel (carafe chamber) to the upper vessel (infusion chamber) and back again as brewed coffee to the carafe chamber.