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What is a Carafe?

Capresso Replacement CarafeA carafe is a container that is used to hold a beverage such as wine or coffee. They are usually wide at the base, have a smaller neck and widen again at the lip. The unique shape allows liquids such as wine that may contain sediments at the bottom to be poured without allowing the sediments out of the container.

There are many different carafe designs. These can range from basic glass or plastic to ornately crafted ornamental objects or high tech containers designed to keep hot liquids such as coffee warm for hours on end.

Ornamental carafes are often used as part of a table setting. They can be clear crystal, etched glass or metal. They may also have painted designs. As they are just used for serving people their drinks, not cooking, carafes don’t need to stand up to heat or other stresses of cooking and can be more elaborate and delicate than cookware.

Carafes made for everyday use are also common. Diners in restaurants are often provided with carafes to serve themselves their own drinks, so they don’t need to wait for waiters or waitresses. They are common sights at restaurant tables, holding either water of coffee (IHOP is famous for this at breakfast).

Insulated carafes are also common. Simple and inexpensive insulated carafes are a common sight in many restaurants, but more elaborate insulated carafe’s are available, most with higher quality insulation and a cap (especially with hot liquids) to maintain the temperature for hours on end.

Decanters are similar to carafes, but are usually used for wine and have a cap. Wine decanters are similar in shape, but are designed to let wine breathe and also allow sediments to remain in the decanter rather than end up in glasses (carafes can also serve the same purpose). Red wines in particular are best if allowed to breathe, that is, interact with the air for a while before pouring. A decanter allows more contact with the air than just a bottle, and so is often used for this purpose.

- Felix Sheffield


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