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How Does A Drip Coffee Maker Work? In-depth Explanations

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By Cheyenne Lopez

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How Does A Drip Coffee Maker Work

It’s not uncommon to see a coffee machine in households nowadays. People love drinking coffee but have little time to brew a cup.

Thankfully, a coffee maker will do every single heavy lift, making it easier to have a cup of coffee by only pressing a switch.

However, these machines come in different types. Thus, if you don’t often brew your drink regularly, you may not know the basics of a drip coffee machine.

How does a drip coffee maker work? Your machine consists of various components to have your task done perfectly.

Let’s read this article to get into details!

How Does A Drip Coffee Maker Work?

You wonder how a drip coffee maker works if you have never used this machine.

This device brews coffee by using gravity. After being heated, the water flows over the coffee ground in the basket to extract the flavor. As a result, hot coffee drops gradually into the pitcher below.

It’s better to know the different components of a drip coffee machine to comprehend how it functions thoroughly.

A drip coffee machine features various parts to work together to brew coffee, including:

  • Carafe
  • Water reservoir
  • Power switch
  • Heating element
  • Showerhead
  • Filter compartment

Keep reading to discover how to brew excellent coffee in dark or light roasts with a drip coffee machine.


Whenever you switch on your drip coffee maker, it’s time to trigger the heating component of your device.

This heating part generally includes a metal element that will get activated when electricity travels through it.

Occasionally, this part may be a tube made of aluminum. This metal will release the warmth to heat anything nearby.

Some conventional drip coffee makers also have a temperature sensor to detect whether the water in the tube reaches the optimal heat and prevents electricity from passing through.

This component heats the water in the reservoir and the carafe. Thus, the freshwater will gradually boil.

You’ll also discover an additional heating element in the carafe’s base. It can keep your coffee warm if you want to brew your drink beforehand or prepare several cups.


This part features two tubes: one lets the water go through, and the second is to allow the water to exit.

The tube with a one-way valve brings the water into the reservoir, preventing the boiling water from flowing.

Another tube sucks the hot water into the machine’s top, thanks to the bubbling movement to force up the liquid.

After that, the water flows into the showerhead and eventually releases into the coffee ground.

Do you hear the gurgling noise during the brewing process? This tube is the main culprit.

Dripping Area

The dripping zone includes a basket-shaped or cone filter compartment.

When the boiling water from the showerhead flows, it drips into the chamber, which contains coffee grounds and a metal or paper filter.

As a result, the hot water will extract distinct coffee flavors from the roast.

After being entirely saturated, the boiling water starts dripping into the machine’s carafe via the filter.

The functionalities of the device

What Are The Phrases Of Coffee Brewing?

The three stages of the coffee brewing process include:

  • Blooming
  • Dissolution
  • Diffusion


Coffee beans may absorb carbon dioxide when they are roasted. Degassing the drink at the start of the brewing process is crucial since the air repels liquid.

The blooming stage will happen in seconds when water flows into the coffee ground.

This phrase will help you eliminate carbon dioxide trapped inside the beans to bring the best flavor and aroma.


The coffee’s tastes and oils dissolve during this phase. It’s worth noting that the good elements will break down faster, while the weak ones require much time during dissolution.

Be careful to stop your coffee from dissolving in time at this stage since timing is crucial.


Oily compounds begin to emulsify as soon as water enters the coffee particles, dissolving the substances inside.

These compounds will then migrate inside the coffee beans during diffusion and emerge on the bean’s exterior as ‘caffeol’.

Different phrases of brewing

What Are The Pros And Cons Of A Drip Coffee Maker?

If you are really into drip coffee, you will find it convenient to have a coffee maker. However, this machine may have some drawbacks.

Let’s scroll down to learn the pros and cons of this device!


#1. It’s Easy To Use.

Most drip coffee machines are simple to use in this variety. You only need to follow the directions, know how to measure coffee grounds and water, and you can start brewing your cup.

#2. It’s Relatively Affordable.

The price of drip coffee makers will vary like any machine, but they are more affordable than other types.

You can choose the best-suited machine, depending on your requirement and budget.

#3. Most Drip Coffee Makers Are Programmable.

You can set the brewing time at a specific time. Many models come with additional features to adjust the temperature or water quantity.

#4. These Machines Can Make Coffee In Large Quantities.

While other types, like aero or French press, only allow you to brew coffee with up to 3 cups, a drip coffee maker can make about 12 cups at once.


#1. They May Be Difficult To Clean.

Although most drip coffee makers are easy to maintain, you must flush out some models with vinegar to remove build-up.

Besides, it’s challenging to eliminate the vinegar smell. Next time you make coffee, your drink will probably have an unpleasant vinegar odor.

#2. For Coffee Connoisseurs, Drip Coffee Machines Are Not Suitable.

While most drip coffee makers can create acceptable cups and keep them hot, controlling the flavor and taste is challenging.

As a result, even when you use freshly roasted coffee beans, good water, and grind before brewing, you may still find the final flavor potential limited.


How To Make Coffee Using A Drip Coffee Maker?

You can’t go wrong with a drip coffee maker if you are a beginner. Brewing many servings is the simplest, quickest, and most consistent.

Have you used this machine before? If not, it’s a good idea to follow the guides.

Make Sure The Grind Is Suitable

The ideal grind size for drip coffee is often between medium-fine and medium-coarse.

Grinding the beans at these textures can prevent some extraction problems, which leads to a too-bitter or too-mild brew.

Besides, it’s advisable to invest in a high-quality grinder. This way, you can ensure your coffee will extract the most excellent flavors.

For instance, you can consider a burr coffee grinder. It can create a more uniform grind size than a blade one.

You can watch this video to get some buying guides before purchasing a grinder:

Use the right grind

Add Water

You must consider the water type to brew your coffee. Some options may cause harm to your device.

For example, tap water may contain minerals influencing the drink’s flavor.

However, distilled water doesn’t have vital substances like calcium and magnesium to keep the water’s flavor.

The ideal option for making your coffee is filtered water. It can create a more flavorful drink.

Furthermore, consider the number of cups you want to brew. For instance, if you plan to make 8 cups, adding more than this number is better as the coffee ground will slightly absorb the water.

Add Coffee

You can use either a paper or reusable filter, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

If you use a paper coffee filter, remember to soak it before making coffee to prevent a papery flavor in your beverage.

After that, locate the basket. Place the filter into this section, measure the coffee ground, and add it to the filter.

Turn On The Machine

After adding the coffee, it’s time to turn your coffee maker on, and it will do everything to get the brewing process done.

It’s worth noting that the features will vary depending on your device. Thus, ensure you read the instructions manual carefully.

Turn on the device

Turn Off The Machine

After the brewing process, remember to turn your device off. Otherwise, you will get into trouble or a fire.

Remove Grinds

When you notice the machine produces a purring noise, it’s time to remove old grinds.

If you skip this step, your cup of coffee will get over-extracted and taste bitter.

Enjoy Your Cup

Now you have a fresh and hot coffee to enjoy! If your machine consists of an electric heating plate and a glass reservoir, remove the reservoir from the plate.

Enjoy your cup

Tips For Making Drip Coffee

If it’s your first time using your drip coffee maker to brew your cup, the following tips will be helpful. Let’s see!

Choose The Proper Filter.

It’s essential to consider the filter when brewing drip coffee because it will affect the taste and the quality.

A paper coffee filter is thick, so it can hold more soluble coffee grounds. As a result, it will offer a clearer cup.

However, this filter may keep the oils trapped in your coffee, which may flatten your beverage’s taste.

For these reasons, rinse this filter with fresh water before using it to eliminate paper dust.

You can consider a mesh filter. However, using this type would be best if you ground coarser.

Drink Your Beverage Immediately.

It would be best if you enjoyed your cup immediately after brewing it. Leaving it on the stove causes the flavor and aroma to evaporate.

Drink your beverage immediately

Grind The Coffee, Seconds Before Brewing.

Coffee beans begin to deteriorate as soon as the roasting is complete, but the process speeds up significantly when you grind the beans.

That’s because ground coffee has more surface areas exposed to the air. Thus, the oils will disperse quickly.

Keep Your Machine Clean.

You must clean the components regularly, including the tubes, the carafe, and the water reservoir.

Moreover, it’s essential to descale the interior of your device after using it to eliminate the calcium build-up.

Otherwise, these things will impact your coffee maker’s functionalities and your brew’s taste.

Keep your device clean

Ensure Your Coffee Is Evenly Saturated.

If your machine doesn’t feature a showerhead, it’s a good idea to cease this process for about 20 seconds.

This way, the water will accumulate inside the basket. After that, you can use this liquid to stir the coffee ground to saturate it uniformly.

How To Clean A Drip Coffee Maker?

Coffee often creates oils and particles, accumulating gradually and influencing your coffee’s flavor.

For consistently excellent coffee, it’s crucial to keep your device clean. It will guarantee that your coffee machine lasts for a very long time.

It’s advisable to rinse all components of your device after using it. Also, use a soap-water solution to wash them once a week.

Besides, you should thoroughly clean your drip coffee maker every three months.

Follow the simple steps below to clean your device!


Before you start your cleaning task, you must prepare the following things:

  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • Dish liquid
  • Sponge
  • Rice
  • Baking soda
  • Paper coffee filters

Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1: Wash all removable parts

You should disassemble the removable component and use dish soap to wash them after each use. This step will help you remove excess drips, oils, and grinds.

You can wash these pieces by hand with soapy water and wipe down the heating plate and the outside.

The trick is to leave the water reservoir lid open, so it will dry more quickly and entirely after using your machine.

Step 2: Decalcify Your Coffee Maker

Hard minerals might accumulate in your machine’s internal workings over time, which causes your device to take longer to make a cup.

You must decalcify and cleanse your machine. Some models feature a led indicator that turns on when a thorough cleaning is necessary.

However, it would be best not to wait until the light turns on. Otherwise, you must perform several deep cleaning sessions to remove it. It’s a good idea to do this task every three months.

Follow the guides below to decalcify your machine:

  1. If your device has a charcoal water filter, remove it from the water reservoir.
  2. Pour the water vinegar of a 1:1 ratio into the water reservoir.
  3. Put a paper coffee filter into your device’s empty basket.
  4. Set the pitcher in position and let the mixture “brew” until you see the “add water” light turn on.
  5. Drain all the water-vinegar solution in the pitcher. Let your device sit for about 30 – 60 minutes.
  6. Empty, clean, rinse and substitute the reservoir. Pour clear water into this part. You only need to fill the water inside if it isn’t removable.
  7. Place a paper filter in the pitcher. Brew until you notice the “Add water” illumination turns on.
  8. You can pour more water into the pitcher and brew 1 – 2 cups until you don’t smell the vinegar odor.
  9. Use a new charcoal filter.

Step 3: Clean The Carafe

Generally, you must clean and wash the carafe after using your device. Over time, this part will look dingy.

Fill the carafe with a bit of uncooked rice and sudsy warm water. To remove any grit, stir the mixture.

To eliminate any leftover dirt, clean the area with a sponge soaked with baking soda. Rinse thoroughly.

Cleaning tips

In A Nutshell

After referring to this post, have you got the answer to your concern: How does a drip coffee maker work? Hopefully, your answer will be yes!

This machine brews coffee by using gravity. After the water gets hot, it flows over the ground in the basket to extract the coffee flavor. Eventually, the coffee drips into the carafe, and you have a cup.

We’ve recommended simple guides and extra tips to make flavorful drip coffee with this device.

Moreover, remember to clean and maintain your machine after each use to get your beverage’s best flavor and taste and increase its longevity.

Thank you for taking the time to read our article!

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