I once wrote the blogger vbspurs a mini-lesson on coffee making using a stovetop espresso maker:
Yes. BTW, the different aesthetic designs of those things actually hide the true inner beauty: upwards steam extraction of oils and essences, a short retort, and then a gentle collection cup, shielded from direct heat. We've own[ed] several designs, but they're really all the same. linkMany substances won't distill and the technique is really only useful for liquids in a chemistry lab or at an oil refinery. I found a totally cool description of how petroleum distillation works here.
The essence of an idea can be distilled from crude thought too. All it takes is a little focused energy--just enough to set it free from context--and a little care in gathering and enjoying it.