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What is an Auto-Drip Coffee Maker

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If you’re shopping for an excellent coffee maker, out of all the different types of coffee makers available, you’ve probably come across automatic drip machines. That would make sense because automatic drip coffee makers are the most common way people make cups of coffee at home. But, in addition, while the automatic coffee maker is familiar, you still might feel unsure about how they work. So, if you’d like to understand what an auto-drip coffee maker is and how it works, read on.


  • Auto-drip coffee makers are ubiquitous kitchen appliances.
  • An automatic drip machine brews a pot of coffee by dripping hot water over the ground coffee in the filter basket.
  • Most modern automatic coffee makers have a control panel and programmable start times.

Defining Automatic Drip Coffee Makers

The automatic drip coffee machine represents the most common method of coffee brewing in the United States. Introduced as Mr. Coffee in 1972, the automatic drip coffee machine produces a flow of coffee by dripping hot water onto a bed of filtered coffee grounds. As the device saturates the ground coffee with water, hot coffee drips into the carafe. Your pot of coffee rests on a hot plate that helps to keep your coffee warm.

Read on if you want to see how all the main parts interact to make a delicious coffee. That said, if you’re interested in strong coffee, you should learn what an automatic espresso machine is or what a semi-automatic coffee machine is.

Essential Parts of an Auto-Drip Coffee Maker

While the automatic drip brewing method isn’t complicated, it is crucial to understand the critical parts of the device. That way, if anything ever breaks, you’ll know what part isn’t functioning correctly. That said, if you want a device with fewer parts, look into what a vacuum coffee maker is.

Buttons and Display

There is a button or switch to start the brew cycle on most coffee machines. In addition, some have a clock display so you can set a programmable start time.

Insider Tip

For great-tasting coffee, use fresh coffee grounds and a new paper filter with every brew cycle.

Water Reservoir

The water reservoir, or water tank, holds up to 90 ounces of water, leading to tubing inside the coffee maker. Some models have a removable water reservoir to make it easier to clean.

Heating Element

The heating element is an internal part that sits below the heating plate and water lines. When the coffee maker is on, the heating element produces heated water.

Temperature Sensor

This internal sensor regulates the water temperature and tries to keep the flow of water around 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brew Basket

The brew basket fits a paper or reusable filter. Freshly ground coffee beans sit inside the filter as the hot water from the water tank flows through the beans and into the coffee pot below.


Also called the coffee pot, most models use a glass carafe, but some opt for a stainless steel pot. Premium machines have a thermal carafe to help maintain the brew temperature of your pots of coffee.

Heating Plate

On most models, your coffee pot rests on a warming plate that helps keep your coffee hot after a brew cycle. In addition, most models automatically power off after 2-4 hours.


Never touch your glass carafe with anything other than the handle. The pot of coffee will be severely hot due to the brewing process and hot plate.


What makes drip coffee different?

When compared to other brewing methods, auto-drip coffee is convenient, quick, and affordable. That said, drip coffee comes last in most blind taste tests.

Is Keurig considered drip coffee?

In a way, Keurig machines are drip coffee makers, but the brewing process is much faster. In addition, some coffee professionals claim K-cup coffee is weaker than drip machine brew.

Is pour-over coffee better?

The pour-over brewing process is the method of choice for coffee enthusiasts around the world. That said, it has a longer brewing time and isn’t as convenient as a standard cup of coffee.

STAT: A recent survey from Gallup revealed that although lower-income Americans drink less coffee than higher-income Americans, lower-income coffee drinkers consume more cups per day (3.8 vs. 2.4 cups, on average) (source)

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