Table of Contents
The coffee machine is one of the most popular appliances to have in homes today. So many people drink coffee but don’t have the time to devote to more complex ways of brewing. Thankfully, coffee machines do all the heavy lifting for us so that getting a cup of coffee is as simple as pressing a button.
Most coffee machines work with the same basic process to move water through coffee grounds and into your cup. There are some differences depending on the kind of coffee machine you have on your countertop.
By the time you finish reading the information below, you will have a good understanding of the inner workings of your favorite little appliance. Take a look to learn more about how coffee machines go about making your much-needed coffee every morning.
Drip Coffee Machines
If you have a coffee machine in your home, it’s probably a drip coffee machine. This kind of coffee machine runs water through the coffee before pouring the resulting brew into your cup. It’s a relatively simple appliance that takes all the trouble out of making coffee.
Components of a Drip Coffee Machine
A drip coffee machine is separated into two sections– the top and the bottom. If you were to take your coffee machine apart, you would probably find similar pieces to just about any other coffee machine of its type.
At the top you can find:
- The Reservoir
- The Hot-Water Tube
- The Faucet
- The Drip Area
The reservoir is the biggest component of a coffee machine. It is what holds the water you pour into your machine so that it can be transferred into the coffee. Reservoirs on coffee machines can vary by size. Some can hold more water than others but all of them are simple buckets for holding water.
The hot-water tube is an insulated tube that runs from the bottom of the machine up to the faucet at the top. This tube is usually white and functions as a way to transfer the water from one place to another.
The faucet is basically a small showerhead over the coffee grounds that is used to spray the water carried through the hot water tube over the coffee. It ensures that all of the coffee grounds are saturated so that you get the quality cup of coffee you’re looking for.
The cold-water tube connects on one side to a hole at the bottom of the reservoir and on the other side to the tube within the heating element. It receives the cold water that you pour into the coffee machine and passes it along to get heated up.
The hot-water tube connects on one side to the tube within the heating element and on the other side to the hot-water tube that runs up through the machine to the faucet. It takes the water after it has been heated and sends it up to be sprayed over the coffee grounds.
The heating element is made up of two parts– a resistive heating element and a tube to carry the water. It is made from aluminum and is used to actually heat the water. It connects the cold-water tube to the hot-water tube and does all the work in between.
The one-way valve is either in the hole of the reservoir or in the tube of the heating element. It ensures that the water flowing through your coffee machine keeps moving in the right direction.
The power cord is simply what you plug into the wall to give the machine power. It’s the energy for all of this to work. You wouldn’t have any coffee without it.
How the Heating Element Works
The heating element in your coffee machine is a very important component. It serves two very important functions in the coffee-making process. It heats up the water before it is sprayed over the coffee grounds and it keeps your coffee warm after it’s made.
The resistive heating element is simply a coiled wire that heats up when it is supplied with electricity. It is usually embedded in plaster so that it will last much longer. The resistive heating element is placed between the metal warming plate that sits beneath your coffee pot and the aluminum water tube.
The aluminum water tube is how the water passes through the heating element. It is connected on either end to the cold-water and hot-water tubes and passes the water along beneath the resistive heating element so that it gets nice and hot.
Between the resistive heat element and the warming plate is a white grease that is used to help distribute the heat throughout the plate to keep your coffee warm. This grease is not easy to clean up, so be careful if you ever come in contact with it!
Controlling the heating element is done first and foremost by the power switch. When you turn the coffee machine on, it begins to supply electricity to the heating element so that it can get hot.
Fixing a Clogged Coffee Machine
If your coffee machine is not functioning the way it should, then it’s probably clogged. Here are a few simple steps you can take to unclog it so you can enjoy your coffee.
Clean out your coffee machine. You can add a cup of vinegar to a reservoir full of water and run your coffee machine as normal. Once all of the water has gone through the machine discard the rinse water. Run a reservoir full of clean water through your coffee machine a couple of times to get rid of the vinegar completely.
Make sure the drain hole isn’t clogged. The hole at the bottom of the reservoir is how the water gets through the machine. If it’s stopped up you should unclog it using a small wire or toothpick to let the water flow through again.
Check the water spout. Make sure the spout where the coffee comes out is completely clean and not being blocked by anything.
Clean out the valve. You will have to remove the base of the coffee machine to get to the valve. Make sure your coffee machine is unplugged before cleaning the valve with warm water and detergent. This should remove any mineral deposits blocking it.