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What is a Coffee Maker?

Coby McKinley Profile image

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Updated August 23, 2022

If you’re shopping for a premier coffee maker, then you need to know the basics. Even though these electric machines are ubiquitous kitchen tools, some people don’t know how to use them. With all the types of coffee makers on the market today, it’s easy to get confused. For example, coffee machines come in different designs with advanced features that affect the brewing process, like pre-infusion. So, if you’re wondering what is a coffee maker, read on to see the most important details.


  • Melitta Bentz invented the first automatic coffee maker in 1908.
  • Standard coffee makers are electric and use heated water and pre-ground coffee to make a drip brew.
  • Modern machines offer brew schedules and alternate brew cycles, like a 1-4 cup setting, to dial in your favorite cup of coffee.

What is a Coffee Maker?

Invented by Melitta Bentz in 1908, the drip coffee maker is as standard a kitchen tool as the microwave. Modern drip coffee machines offer convenient features like a programmable timer and multiple brew strength settings. In addition, some models have thermal carafes that keep your pot of coffee warm. That said, for the best cup of coffee, you need to know how the brewing cycle works.

You should learn how the aroma setting works on your coffee maker if you want the best flavor from your hot coffee.

How does a Coffee Maker Work?

Most standard coffee makers operate similarly. First, the heating element warms the water reservoir, resulting in hot water for the brew. Next, the near-boiling water flows into the brew basket filled with ground beans in a paper or reusable filter. Finally, coffee drips from the filter and fills your coffee pot which rests on a warming plate to keep your coffee hot for longer.

Using a coffee maker is a straightforward process, but ensure you have fresh water and ground coffee before brewing. That said, you should be aware of different types of coffee makers and how they work. Moreover, it’s a good idea to learn how to fix coffee maker issues, such as when your stovetop espresso maker isn’t working.

What Type of Coffee Maker Should You Choose?

While there are many options to brew some cups of coffee, you should know about the most common options. Every option below requires ground coffee, so invest in a coffee grinder if you want to use fresh coffee beans.

Insider Tip

For the best flavor, you do not want your coffee ground into a fine powder but rather a medium-coarse grind.

Automatic Drip Coffee Maker

Many would describe a drip model as the standard coffee maker. After filling the water tank and the filter basket, the brewing cycle will start with a single button. In addition, most models offer a programmable start time, which is a nice feature.

If you’re interested in an automatic model, read our guide to what a drip coffee maker is.

Single-Serve Coffee Makers

Most single-serve brewers operate similarly to a standard drip model. That said, this type of coffee maker is ideal for a quick brewing time and small amounts of coffee.  Be sure to check out our guide on how to use a single-serve coffee machine.

Capsule Machines

Pod coffee makers use BPA-free plastic pods filled with pre-ground coffee. While experts don’t like the potential environmental cost of K-cup coffee, few devices get the coffee ready in such a mess-free way. For more coffee machine tips, you’ll want to read our guide on why is my coffee maker making a low humming sound.

French Press

If you want full-bodied coffee, the french press is the way to go. You pour your coffee grounds into just-boiled water and let it brew for 10 minutes before filtering out the grounds. While there are some minimal health concerns, most coffee aficionados don’t seem to care.


Ensure your paper filters are unbleached if you want the most natural coffee taste.


What is the best coffee grinder for home use?

Most experts recommend an electric model with different grinder settings. That said, you can use an empty pepper grinder for fresh beans in a pinch.

Why is French press coffee bad for you?

Cafestol, a chemical found in French press coffee, elevates cholesterol levels in some persons. Filtered coffee from an automatic machine, on the other hand, does not include this ingredient.

Are single-serve coffee makers worth it?

While single-serve machines are more expensive than the standard coffee maker, they offer convenient features and quick brew times. In addition, some offer heated, to-go carafes for coffee drinkers on the go.

STAT: According to a recent study from the Journal of Nutrition, 9% of coffee drinkers consumed an average of 32oz per day. (source)

Coby McKinley Profile image