What is a Drip Coffee Maker?

These kinds of machines became popular in the 1970’s because of the tendency of the percolator to over-extract coffee, which often resulted in a bitter tasting cup of brew.  Another reason it became popular was because of its speed and convenience.  A lot of consumers liked the idea of being able to set the coffee maker and then forget about it while they went about their business.  This way they could multitask while they were waiting for their java to brew.  Because of these reasons, many percolator owners said goodbye to their percolators and went out and purchased drip coffee makers.


Brewing Process

A drip coffee machine works like this:  Water is poured over roasted, ground beans that are in a filter.  While the water is slowly seeping through the grounds, it is absorbing the oils and essences of the grounds.   Due to gravity, the liquid passes through the bottom of the filter and a beverage called java is made.  The used grounds remain in the filter while the liquid drips into a carafe or pot.

Questions to Consider

Before you go out and buy your brand new appliance, there are a few questions you should consider.  Considering these questions will help you make a decision on which product is the best drip coffee machine for your personal use.

1.  On an average, how many cups of joe will you be making each morning?
2.  How much do you have to spend on one of these units?
3.  Are there any added features you would like for your appliance to have?

There are all different types of drip coffee makers on the market today.  You will find them ranging in size from units that are for individual use to the ones that are for industrial use.  They also come in a wide range of prices; from just under $25 to well over $1000 and up.  Of course, you want to buy an appliance that will last you for several years or more, but you don’t want to spend more than your budget will allow.

Features To Consider

You should also consider what kind of features you would like to have on your new machine.  Some of the features you will find on these appliances are: 

  • Programmable settings
  • Thermal carafes
  • Small-batch settings
  • Ability to control brew-strength
  • Pause and serve
  • Automatic shutoff
  • Controls located on the side: a space saver for small counter tops because it allows the machine to sit sideways
  • Longer warranties
  • Extra carafes
  • Cycle that self-cleans
  • Water filter
  • Ability to pre-warm the carafe
  • Built-in grinder and temperature adjustment
  • Showerhead hole

It might be wise to decide which features best suit your lifestyle before you go out and buy a coffee machine.  The two most common features are programmability and the automatic shutoff.  Most of us like to wake up to a hot pot of coffee so the programmability feature is one that most consumers would like on their machine.  It’s also nice to have the automatic shutoff so when you leave the house, you know the machine will shutoff all by itself.  You will need to decide if you want the other features or not.  Just remember, you might think you need all of those extra bells and whistles, but all of those added features will probably end up making the machine more expensive.

A couple of other features that will help maximize the flavor of your cup of brew include a grinder that is built in and a showerhead hole.  Everyone will probably agree that pre-ground coffee is convenient, but fresh ground coffee is heavenly.  Some drip coffee makers come with a built in grinder that will grind the beans making that awesome cup of joe possible.  Those units are discussed more in the bean-to-cup article.

Showerhead holes are another great feature that help you get the most flavor out of your drink.  These holes produce a constant spray of water over the grounds in the filter which in turn leads to a more even saturation than that of a single hole.  The single hole has a stream of hot water that usually concentrates in the center of the ground coffee.  The showerhead holes make for even extraction which results in a tastier, yummier cup of brew.

Design of the Drip Coffee Maker

The design of the unit is also important.  You should consider these questions before you decide on one for your personal use.

  • Is it too big to fit nicely on your counter top?
  • Is it easy to clean?
  • How easy is it to pour the water in the reservoir and can you clearly see how much water is already in the reservoir?
  • What kind of controls does it have and are they intuitive?
  • How durable are the parts?
  • How easy is it to access the buttons?

Before you buy a drip coffee machine, you should talk to your friends and see what kind of coffee makers they use.  Ask them what they like or don’t like about their machine and if they would recommend buying one like theirs.  You should also check out online reviews at Amazon and other retail stores to see what consumers are saying about the product you are interested in.