Most coffee lovers have breakfast with an old friend – the coffee maker. But is the traditional drip filter machine passed its sell by date?
A modern drip coffee maker is a surprisingly simple device. Manufacturers have had more than 30 years to hone their designs, so these coffee makers are pretty straightforward with very little that can go wrong with the machine. There are lots of coffee makers on the market that can arguably make a better pot of coffee, but in this blog, we’ll be focusing on the trusty drip coffee maker.
So how does a drip coffee maker turns a handful of grounds and a couple of cups of water into a steaming hot cup of coffee?
A drip coffee maker is about as simple as an appliance can get. Here’s how it works:
When you pour in cold water, it flows from the reservoir through the hole and into the in take tube.
Then the water flows through the one-way valve, into the aluminum tube in the heating element and then partially up through the white tube. This all happens naturally because of gravity.
When you turn on the switch, the resistive heating element starts heating the aluminum tube and eventually the water in the tube boils. When the water boils, the bubbles rise up in the white tube. What happens next is exactly what happens in a typical aquarium filter: The tube is small enough and the bubbles are big enough that a column of water can ride upward on top of the bubbles.
The water flows up the tube and is dispersed to drip evenly on the waiting coffee grounds.
When the hot water flows through the ground coffee beans it picks up their oil essence on the way down into the coffee pot. This coffee oil, released during the roasting process, is called caffeol.
There is no mechanical pump of any type and really no moving parts (except for the moving portion of the one-way valve). This makes the drip style coffee machine extremely reliable.
In some drip coffee makers, there are also different advanced features that give you more control over your coffee. In some machines, a built-in grinder means that cup of coffee will also be nice and fresh, ground just before brewing began. Another interesting feature available is the ability to pause in the middle of a brewing cycle. This way, if you’re the first one out of bed making coffee for an entire household, you can grab your first cup before the entire pot is prepared.
Many digital drip coffee makers also allow you to adjust the strength of the brew – if want a stronger cup of coffee the brewing time slows to accommodate. Some also have self-cleaning cycles and filtration systems. Freshness counters can let you know how long a pot of coffee has been sitting out and automatic shut-off features can ease fears that you forgot to turn the coffee maker off when you left for work.
It’s amazing what a difference that one single thing makes. When you grind coffee, you increase the surface area of the coffee bean that is exposed to air, hastening the release of the oils that give coffee its rich flavor.
2. Buy good coffee.
The better the coffee you start with, the better the coffee you’ll end up with. Of course, good coffee is a subjective thing. We recommend the Strictly Coffee house blend to use in your drip coffee maker.
3. Keep your drip coffee maker and coffee pot clean.
Coffee oils cling to everything, and once they’re deposited they start growing rancid. Wash out your pot and filter basket every time you make a fresh pot, and clean your coffee maker once a week. Descale it once a month. And do remember to clean the shower heads up under where the filter basket goes. That’s an area most people never think to clean.
4. Use a paper filter.
You’ve probably seen ads for “permanent coffee filters” in gold or nylon. They sound like a great idea. But Coffee residues tend to collect in hard to clean places on them. It’s better and easier to buy good quality paper coffee filters and have a fresh one for every brew.
5. Use enough coffee.
The biggest mistake that people make when making coffee in a drip coffee maker is using too little coffee. You should use a full tablespoon of ground coffee for each 8 ounces of water. Measure it out the first few times and you’ll be surprised how much coffee that actually is.
6. Use fresh, cold water.
If your tap water is good for drinking, it will make good coffee. If it’s not, use a water filter or use spring water.
7. Avoid the temptation to use the brew pause.
The first cup or so of coffee will carry most of the coffee flavor. If you pour that off and return the pot to fill the rest of the way, the first cup of coffee will be very strong, and the rest of the pot very weak.
8. Take the coffee off the warming plate when it’s done brewing.
Coffee left on the warmer plate will continue to “cook”. Instead, pour any coffee that’s left over into a thermal pot, preferably one with a vacuum seal.
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