Chemistry - Chemistry behind Gale's coffee maker in Breaking Bad
Yes, there is a scientific basis, but I think you can't do anything with the apparatus shown in the figure. Here you can find much information about it. I will try to summarize.
It seems that extracting coffee at a lower temperature makes it tastes better. Gale thinks that the amount of quinic acid is the key variable that makes good coffee. In fact, some studies (McCamey, D. A.; Thorpe, T. M.; and McCarthy, J. P. Coffee Bitterness. In "Developments in Food Science." Vol 25. 169-182. 1990.) report that bitterness of coffee is due to quinic acid but is not the only substance involved (see this link). I don't have any reference about the dependence between temperature and method of extraction and quantitative of quinic acid extracted.
By the way, the apparatus should extract the coffee in a more effective way. The vacuum pump seems to suggest the use of the vacuum to make the water boil at a lower temperature. But the connections in my opinion make no sense, so I will try to describe it:
All start with an autoclave that is connected with a Gast vacuum pump. This is connected with an Allihn condenser (not the right thing to do because in there you should connect the water used to refrigerate), and then to a heated Erlenmeyer flask that is connected with a strange steel cylinder (I don't know what it is, maybe a filter), then to a Florence flask and then to another steel cylinder (...). The inspiration comes from a Florence Siphon but this is much simpler and is generally something like this:
Here you can read and here you can watch how it works.
Of course this is not so nice and intriguing as the previous apparatus and is not a geeky thing that makes us think we are dealing with a great chemist, so the authors thought to make the apparatus more appealing but completely useless!
I think you can make coffee with the machine shown in the picture. This is my analysis.
The setup used in breaking bad is non functional. It isn't an autoclave but a vacuum pot. Check out this video from inside breaking bad which explains it doesn't actually work! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY0GCYJlpwk