How it Works: Understanding How a Coffee Maker Works

How it Works: Understanding How a Coffee Maker Works

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It seems like it’s the same every morning: groggily stumbling to the kitchen, bleary-eyed and searching for that first cup of black gold to kickstart the day. We may not often stop to think about it, but we owe our early morning pick-me-up to an ingenious invention called the modern-day coffee maker.

Sure, it’s a surprisingly simple device that most of us have seen in action more times than we can count. But have you ever paused to consider precisely what’s involved in making the perfect cup of coffee? Whether you’re a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur or just a curious mind, what really goes into that steaming cup of deliciousness?

With a few basic components and even simpler steps, understanding how a coffee maker works is easier than you think. From the technical details to the types of coffee makers and other methods of brewing, here’s a closer look at what you need to know about the device that helps to keep the world running.

The Components of a Coffee Maker

At first glance, a coffee maker looks like more of a mystery than a machine. But like any other appliance, it’s composed of several key components that work together to craft that cup of coffee that gets us going each morning.

The Filter

No matter the brand or type of coffee maker, one component is always present: the filter. Today, most filters are made from a combination of paper and plastic, or sometimes cloth, and are designed to hold back the grounds and separate them from the liquid.

The Carafe

Another component of a coffee maker is the carafe, which is typically made from glass or stainless steel. The carafe receives the finished product and sits nestled in a warming plate to ensure your coffee stays hot for hours.

The Boiler and Brewer

The boiler is the component of a coffee maker that heats the liquid, while the brewer is the component that allows the heated liquid to pass through the filter, where the grounds are then steeped.

Come together, these three components form the basis of any modern-day coffee maker.

How Does a Coffee Maker Work?

The actual process of using a coffee maker is surprisingly simple, even though the science behind it can get quite complicated.

First, you need to fill up the carafe with cold water and pour it into the water reservoir located at the base of the coffee maker.

Next, you place the filter into the filter holder and place fresh ground coffee beans into the filter.

Then, working from the boiler, the water inside the reservoir will begin to heat. As the water heats up, it begins to pass through the brewer and steep the grounds, infusing them with the boiling water.

Once the brewing process is complete, the coffee begins to pour into the carafe below and your cup of coffee is ready to be served.

Types of Coffee Makers

When it comes to selecting the perfect coffee maker, there’s a huge range of options to choose from. Common varieties include:

Automatic Drip Coffee Makers

These machines are commonplace in most households, making the process of brewing coffee as easy as possible.

French Press Coffee Makers

These manual devices require no electricity, and involve the user placing freshly-ground coffee into the bottom of a cylindrical carafe and pouring in hot water.


A more traditional way of making coffee, percolators involve the user filling the lower chamber with cold water and filling the upper chamber with freshly-ground coffee. The user then places the two chambers together, which slowly heats the lower chamber, slowly forcing the boiling liquid through the coffee grounds and into the upper chamber.

Slow Drip Coffee Makers

The slow drip coffee maker works by slowly warming the water before it passes through the filter, which generally produces a sweeter and full-bodied taste.

Additional Methods of Brewing Coffee

In addition to coffee makers, there are other ways to brew coffee. Manual methods, such as pour-over, siphon, and cold-brew are increasingly popular brewing techniques.

Pour-Over Coffee Making

Pour-over coffee making involves the user manually pouring hot water over the grounds in a special filter. This method gives the user greater control over the taste and aroma of their coffee, as they are able to control the time and temperature of the brewing process.

Siphon Coffee Making

Also known as vacuum brewing, the siphon method involves boiling the water in the bottom chamber and filter the grounds in the top chamber, which is connected to the bottom one through a glass and metal filter.

The brewing process begins when the user adds hot water to the lower chamber, which causes the water to expand, forcing it through the filter and into the top chamber.

Cold Brew Coffee

Cold brew coffee is made by taking typically ground coffee and soaking it in water for 12 to 24 hours, resulting in a smooth, sweet, and low in acidity cup of coffee.


Understanding how a coffee maker works is simpler than you think. From the filter, to the carafe and boiler and brewer, this invention has come a long way since its invention in 1818.

Nowadays, with the plethora of options available, you can explore the world of coffee making and find the best method for your taste. Whether it’s automatic drip, French Press, percolator, pour-over, slow drip, or cold brew, you can be sure that your first cup of coffee each morning will be the perfect pick-me-up.

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