This Woman Cooks Everything in a Coffee Maker

The Swedish website Kaffekokarkokboken documents extreme minimalist cuisine.
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Let’s take a moment to celebrate the true heroes—those who cast off the Rollie EggMasters, the Pasta Boats, and the Xpress Redi-Set-Go’s of modernity. Those of us who, if pressed, could survive the apocalypse with just one appliance.

In a world of quick-fix solutions, let us marvel at the coffee-maker chef.

In 2009, Katja Wulff was just a straw-haired Swedish college student with a dream in her heart and no stove in her dorm. Her solution: To prepare noodles in her coffee maker.

The initial noodle success was followed by more elaborate dishes, and eventually, to a blog called Kaffekokarkokboken and to a well-received book by the same title.

Dan Sörensen/Coffee Machine Cuisine

Fortunately for us, there is an English version: Coffee Machine Cuisine. At this point, Wulff is brewing up everything from chocolate marshmallow lollipops, to lamb hearts, to an egg “cake” consisting of boiled eggs and fried eggs cemented together with mayonnaise. As in, “Happy birthday, I made you this egg cake in my coffee maker.”

Dan Sörensen/Coffee Machine Cuisine

Her other hobbies are putting tights on her cats and making balloon art. Clearly, I needed to find out as much about this woman as possible.

The following is a lightly edited transcript of my e-mail conversation with Wulff. All of the delightful photos are by Wulff's photographer boyfriend, Dan Sörensen.

You said that you sometimes use food that looks good rather than tastes good. What are some examples of that, and why?

Coffee Machine Cuisine is a creative experiment rather than a traditional food blog. I have never liked to cook and I'm still not fond of "traditional" cooking. But I like to experiment with ingredients and with my coffee maker. And if the ingredients look crazy, it's even more fun, because it will look better on photos. I love to experiment with weird stuff like hearts, testicles and pig tails. The consistency of a testicle is awesome!

The taste of the final dish is not as important, although I try to make it taste good, of course. I think that if you are looking for great recipes, taste-wise, maybe I'm not the chef for you. But if you want to get inspired and have a great laugh, Coffee Machine Cuisine is hopefully the blog you want to read. And if you are a crazy cat person, like me, it's definitely the blog to read.

Dan Sörensen/Coffee Machine Cuisine

How many actual meals do you cook for yourself in a coffee maker in a given day?

Since I have a kitchen now, I do it when I feel like it and when I get a new recipe I have to try. It's "just" a hobby now both for me and for my boyfriend Dan--the photographer of the blog and book. But it wasn't always like this... I used to live in a dorm (before I met and moved in with Dan), that's when I started the Swedish version of the blog, and since I didn't have a kitchen in my room I started to cook all my food in the coffee maker and did that for like six months.

Why not add toasters or other gadgets to the repertoire?

I do! I've tried toasters, bread-roasters, vacuum cleaner, hair curler, iron, dishwasher, hair waffler, etc ... as well. But nothing is as good and versatile as the coffee maker. I would love to try and cook with a washing machine, but Dan won't let me. Tried to cook with my parent's washing machine but they saw it and interrupted what was about to happen. An hour later I fried a burger with their iron. Now I'm not allowed to cook with anything other than the stove at their place.

Who do you think this blog/book is useful for?

It’s definitely useful for hungry people who don't have a kitchen but do have a coffee maker. For example, I know of a music band that practice all day and all night and make my recipes with their coffee maker when they have to eat. They don't have a kitchen in their studio! Love it.

I want it to be a feel-good blog that inspires lots of people. I read a review once of our book that said (poorly translated from Swedish) "... Every time I feel down and I feel like all my ideas suck, I will read this book and just laugh out loud..." and that's the way I want it to be. It doesn't matter if you are into cooking or not, I hope that people will smile when they read it, because it's not really about cooking. It's about doing what you love to do, whatever people say about it. Follow your dreams and all that.

What's the most creative user-submitted recipe you've ever gotten?

When somebody asked for a recipe made with a hair waffler [hair crimper]. Hadn't thought of that so I had to try! I tried a minute steak and it worked perfectly. And it looked great, all waffly.

Dan Sörensen/Coffee Machine Cuisine

Is there any food for which the coffee maker is preferable to a pot or pan? Like does it ever cook any food better than the normal equipment?

Most of the food I've made I haven't tried to cook traditionally, so don't know. I think that the Swedish Egg Cake is great to cook with a coffee maker because the eggs should be perfectly round. And I've heard that the temperature of the brewed water is perfect for fish cooking, or if you want to poach an egg. I've tried it and it works great, but I don't know if it's better than doing the same thing on a stove.

Dan Sörensen/Coffee Machine Cuisine

How long does it take to fry something up on the coffee maker's hot plate?

Let's take bacon as an example... 30 to 45 minutes or so with a coffee maker, but five to seven minutes with a stove. Sometimes people are like "Oh, you must be stupid... Don't you realize that it's much more efficient to cook with a stove!!!???" ... OF COURSE I know that. But that's not the point. This is one of my main interests! I know it's an unusual one, but some people like to dance, sing, paint or race with cars. I don't. I like to try and make different things edible with my coffee maker.

How many coffee makers do you have in your house at this point?

I just got a new one! Before that I cooked with the coffee maker I first started to cook with five years ago. And oh, Dan bought a mini version of my first coffee maker for our first anniversary. <3 So three.

Any clean-up tips?

Wash it in the sink like you wash your other dishes. Unplug it before is my tip. 

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Olga Khazan is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she covers health.

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