How A Drip Coffee Maker Works

Are you going to invest in a drip coffee maker or have been using drip coffee maker for years but do not know how it works? And suddenly some questions are coming in mind like-how does a drip coffee maker exactly works inside the machine and what is happening there? How does a drip coffee maker heat up water so fast and how does water transfer from reserver to pot through the filter? That is why I have written this detailed article to answer all of the questions in simple words.

Les’s start with the basic components of a drip coffee maker before explaining the topics of how does a drip coffee maker work, we know what are the main components inside. Manufacturers of our drip coffee maker have been working for well over 30 years to develop this modern simple design. A drip coffee maker is a simple device and it is a pretty straightforward machine when you take a look at them on the inside.

When you remove the top of any drip coffee maker you will find the reservoir, the drip area, the showerhead, and heating elements, and many more.

The term “drip coffee” may or may not be familiar to you, suffice it to say, I have no doubt that if you’ve ever drunk coffee in your life, you’ve had drip coffee. Simply put, drip coffee is coffee that’s brewed by coffee makers. Getting a bit more into the particulars of it, you could technically say that something like a French press or a percolator is also a coffee maker, so in this context “drip coffee” will refer to coffee made by an automatic coffee maker, meaning a carafe and a basket full of ground coffee with water hot water dripped on it.

We use the term drip primarily as a means of distinguishing coffee from espresso since espresso is made with coffee and technically coffee itself. Yeah, it can get a bit confusing. Check out our complete guide if you haven’t already.

Most people who are dependent on caffeine have breakfast with an old friend — the coffee maker. Every morning you scoop in the coffee, add some water and flip it on, but have you ever­ wondered what’s happening inside. How does the water get from the reservoir over to the coffee grounds in the filter basket? How does everything heat up so quickly, and what on earth is that gurgling noise?

In this article, we’ll look inside a typical drip coffee maker so you can understand exactly what’s happening when you make coffee. We’ll also look at the possible problems that might cause your coffee maker to stop working. By the end of this article, you may look at your old friend in a completely new way.

­Before we get into that, however, let’s do a quick coffee rundown. Coffee plants are­ evergreen tropical shrubs and small trees, and they grow best between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn (often referred to in the coffee world as the Bean Belt) ­which mak­es sense because the plants enjoy lots of rain and gentle temperatures. Coffee beans as we know them are actually the seeds of the fruit of the coffee plant — called coffee cherries — and these popular plants have been cultivated by man for hundreds of years. The two most commonly grown species of coffee plants are Coffee arabica (Arabica coffee) and coffee canephora (Robusta coffee). For more details about what’s in your morning cup, check out the article How Coffee Works.

There are lots of coffee makers on the market that can arguably make a better pot of Joe, but in this article, we’ll be focusing on the trusty drip. If your tastes do run fancier, check out the article How the Clover Coffee Maker Works. On the other hand, if you’re gunning for an insider’s look at your kitchen’s appliance of the year, we’ll crack it open and take a peek at the next page.­

How A Drip Coffee 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 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. Some sensors detect when your coffee machine is getting too hot and respond accordingly. They can shut off the heating element and then turn it back on when it has cooled down. The sensors continue this cycle to keep the heating element at just the right temperature.

The Coffee Making Process

Making coffee with a drip coffee maker is pretty easy from your perspective. All you have to do is fill up the reservoir, scoop in the right amount of coffee, put the pot in place, and wait. While you’re waiting, the coffee machine is working on getting everything ready for you.

Here’s a look at the journey from water to coffee through your machine:

  1. It all starts in the reservoir. You pour your cold, filtered water in and close it up to let it do its business.
  2. The water moves through the hole in the bottom of the reservoir into the cold-water tube underneath.
  3. The cold-water tube passes the water through the one-way valve into the aluminum tube beneath the resistive heating element. The water will move part of the way up the hot-water tube within the machine.
  4. When you turn the coffee machine on the heating element starts to get hot. After a few minutes, the water contained in the aluminum tube will start to boil.
  5. The boiling water creates big enough bubbles to push the hot water through the hot-water tube all the way up through the coffee machine to the faucet.
  6. The faucet sprays the hot water so that it can even drip over the coffee grounds.
  7. The hot water saturates the coffee grounds and carries their flavors with it down into your waiting coffee pot.

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 completely get rid of the vinegar.

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. Regularly clean your coffee machine. Keeping the machine clean will prevent clogging and keep your coffee tasting fresh and clean every single morning.

What is a Drip Coffee Machine?

If you managed to stumble your way through to this post, because we have such awesome coffee related articles. Then I had to coffee off what exactly a drip coffee maker is before getting into the components of it. A Drip coffee maker is an automatic machine (you can get manual ones as well) that basically drips water over coffee grounds. The water is evenly distrubuted so that it allows the coffee to bloom and drip to your flask. A flask can be stainless steel or glass, and the main purpose of the flask is to hold the coffee and heat it. Glass carafes are not thermally insulated, and when continuously heated it can lead to over extraction of the coffee. Giving it a sour taste, that’s why we recommend thermo flasks instead. Anyway, enough of that quick overview lets jump right in!

Important Components Of A Best Drip Coffee Maker

Reservoir: The reservoir is nothing but a container that holds the cold water you pour into the pot when you are going to make your coffee. The reservoir bucket has a hole at the bottom and a white tube connected from the reservoir base to the drip area. The absolute purpose of this white tube is to carry hot water to the coffee maker’s drip area. Additionally, this tube also helps you use cleaning solutions when cleaning your machine. For some coffee makers, you will find the option to remove it.

Shower Head: Drip coffee maker has a shower head that receives the hot water carried by the white tube. Its function is to spray water onto the coffee grounds when hot water reaches the showerhead.

Drip Area: Drip area has a perforated plastic disc where water flows from a white tube and flow s through its holes to coffee grounds. The drip area is not available for all drip coffee makers.

Heating Element: The heating element is nothing but a simple wire made of aluminum that is coiled and is quite similar to a filament inside of a light bulb or even the heating element you might find in your toaster. The main purpose of this heating element is to transfer energy from electric energy to heat energy which means raise the temperature of the water using electricity. When electricity starts to flow through the heating element, it starts getting hot. All coffee machines do not require electric supply because some coffee makers like 12 Volt coffee makers are specially designed for outdoor use where the electric connection is not available.

1. Reservoir

The reservoir is the part that holds the water you pour into the pot when you are starting to make your coffee. The reservoir bucket has a hole at the bottom and a white tube leading from the reservoir base to the drip area. The purpose of this white tube is to carry hot water to the coffee maker’s drip area and that also help you use cleaning solutions when cleaning your machine.

2. Shower Head

The shower head receives the hot water carried by the white tube. Once the hot water hits the shower head, it is sprayed on to the coffee grounds.

3. Drip Area

This is an area that has a plastic disc that is perforated. Not all drip coffee makers have a drip area but in those that do, water flows from the white tube and lands on the drip area then flows through its holes and on to the coffee grounds.

4. Heating Element

The drip coffee maker’s heating element is located at the left side of the appliance’s base. The heating element has an aluminum extrusion that has two sections, a tube that allows water to pass through and a resistive heating element. Water is heated by the aluminum tube and the resistive heating element (Check video here). Basically, the resistive heating element is a coiled wire that is similar to a light bulb’s filament or the element that is found in the electric toaster that heats up when electricity runs through it.

Inside the resistive element is a coil that is embedded in plaster so that it us more rugged. The heating element serves two purposes. First, it heats up when water is poured into the drip coffee maker. Secondly, it keeps the brewed coffee warm once the brewing process is done.

Heat transfer in the heating element

The resistive heating element sits between the aluminum water tube and the warming plate in drip coffee makers. This element presses against the lower side of the warming plate directly. It also presses against the white heat conductive grease that ensures efficient transfer of heat. The grease is really messy and is found in different devices including power supplies and stereo amplifiers that have to dissipate heat.

The Switch

The best drip coffee makers have a switch that turns on and off the power that the heating element uses. To prevent the heating element from overheating, the switch is fitted with components like fuses and sensors. Sensors that are fitted into drip coffee makers are designed to detect when the coil is becoming too hot and stop the current from flowing. Once the coil cools off, the sensors turn on the current again, here you can view inside of drip machine. By repeating this cycle of on and off, they maintain an even temperature on the coil. On the other hand, fuses cut the power off completely when they detect very high temperatures. The fuses therefore serve a safety purpose in case the main sensor stops working.

What makes Drip Coffee Different?

Compared to espresso, drip coffee simply relies on thermally induced pressure to send it up to the showerhead, and gravity to pull it down through the grounds. It dissolves considerably less of the coffee’s soluble mass, and the paper filters common to this brew method will trap many of the oils that would otherwise be present in espresso, French press, or percolator coffee. Brewing coffee this way is uncomplicated, affordable, and thus, incredibly common among Americans to whom “drip coffee” is simply “coffee.”

Among the more barista inclined, the term “brewed coffee” is sometimes used to refer to manual coffee brewing methods like pour-over. It’s somewhat synonymous with the terms “craft coffee” or “artisan coffee,” and the general implication is that talent and effort went into making it. Drip coffee is the product of an automatic process, you put the grinds in, you pour your water in and you push the button. Maybe you select how many cups you want, or you set the timer on your coffee maker so it stops blinking “12:00” at you, but that’s about it.

Before we continue, I want to make it clear that the term drip coffee is not a disparagement, merely a descriptor of what is perhaps the most common brewing method in America, albeit one that requires substantially less effort than others.

What’s Inside Your Drip Coffee Machine?

There are a variety of components that make a drip coffee maker work and we’ve done an extensive research to show you the various components. The reason we wrote this post is that a lot of coffee lovers love a nice drink! However, some of us dig a little deeper to see how a coffee maker works and to be honest it is really fascinating. So here are 7 Interesting tips of the main units or components of a drip coffee machine.

How to Make Drip Coffee

Growing up, the answer to this question was “1 scoop for every 2 cups,” but I’m guessing that’s not the answer you were looking for. A good place to start is with a ratio of 60g of dry coffee (beans or ground) to 1 liter of water. But let’s do some math and figure out some basic averages.

The average American cup of coffee is 8 oz of liquid, and 1 liter is 33.814 oz. That means that you’re getting just over 4 full cups for every liter (4.22675) to be precise. If you do a bit of rounding, that means that for every 8 oz cup of coffee, you’ll want about 14g of coffee, which is just about 0.5 oz. So, our takeaway is: Use approximately 14g or 0.5 oz of dry coffee for every 8 oz cup of coffee you want to brew.

Making coffee with a drip coffee maker is pretty easy from your perspective. All you have to do is fill up the reservoir, scoop in the right amount of coffee, put the pot in place, and wait. While you’re waiting, the coffee machine is working on getting everything ready for you.

Here’s a look at the journey from water to coffee through your machine:

  • It all starts in the reservoir. You pour your cold, filtered water in and close it up to let it do its business.
  • The water moves through the hole in the bottom of the reservoir into the cold-water tube underneath.
  • The cold-water tube passes the water through the one-way valve into the aluminum tube beneath the resistive heating element. The water will move part of the way up the hot-water tube within the machine.
  • When you turn the coffee machine on the heating element starts to get hot. After a few minutes, the water contained in the aluminum tube will start to boil.
  • The boiling water creates bubbles that are big enough to push the hot water through the hot-water tube all the way up through the coffee machine to the faucet.
  • The faucet sprays the hot water so that it can even drip over the coffee grounds.
  • The hot water saturates the coffee grounds and carries their flavors with it down into your waiting coffee pot.

Final Thoughts

A drip coffee machine is also called by the name dripolator. It usually works by adding the fresh cold water into the reservoir that has a thin hole at its base which is connected by a tube. The tube takes the water to the heating chamber which consists of heating elements that boil the water which is again carried to the showerhead using tubing to the coffee grounds. This is how you become a proud owner of your freshly brewed coffee. That’s all about it. We hope that now you have the answer to “how a coffee maker works”!

An electric drip coffee maker is also known as a dripolator. It normally works by putting water from a cold water reservoir into a flexible hose in the base of the reservoir leading directly to a thin metal tube or heating chamber (usually, of aluminum) called heating elements, where a heating element surrounding the metal tube heats the water. As this coffee maker is operated by power, you will find an electric cable as well.

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