Introduction to Coffeemakers

The most basic question about coffeemakers is “how do they actually make the coffee?” Whereas years ago, percolators were the most popular type of coffee maker, today there is a large following of automatic drip coffeemakers and specialty coffeemakers. This article introduces the different types of coffeemakers available today.


Stovetop and electric percolators make coffee by running boiling water through the grounds. At the time when the only small appliance in the kitchen was a two-slice toaster, percolators were the way to make coffee for most people. With the brew method, the boiling water passes up a tube and then flows through the filter basket. If heat application continues, the coffee will then pass up the tube and over the grounds, and this process will repeat until heating stops.

The invention of automatic drip pot coffeemakers, which does not allow the water to boil, replaced much of the use of percolators. Percolators remain popular among those who prefer the flavor and for situations in which electricity is not available, such as in rustic cabins and over campfires.


home institute 1 One way or another, drip brewed coffee is the most popular style in the United State currently. What all drip methods have in common is a filter filled with ground coffee over which hot water pours, dripping through to a container beneath.

• Automatic Drip

A convenient way to brew coffee, these machines have a container into which water is poured and a filter holder into which a metal mesh or paper filter with coffee grounds is placed. These models usually have a dial to choose how weak or strong the brew will be, a carafe to hold the coffee, and a hot plate to keep it warm.

• Manual Drip

There are a number of manual drip products in different sizes and shapes. Some work with carafes, and some make a single cup. Using this approach, you, not the machine, are responsible for heating the water, and for the speed with which the water flows over the grounds.

Single-Serving Pod Coffeemaker

There are a number of coffee makers now available to meet the needs of those who only need one cup at a time. Prepackaged coffee in portable filters called pods eliminates any mess involved in measuring the grounds into filters. This means, however, that freshly ground coffee cannot be used with them.

Espresso Maker

Espresso is strong coffee made by forcing steam through powdered coffee beans. There are a variety of different types of espresso machine, and both are available as electric and stovetop.

Some manufacturers offer dual coffee and espresso machines that have two different brewing methods, depending on the beverage you want. They may combine espresso making with either drip or pod coffee making. Some have additional features to prepare cappuccinos and lattes. Single-function espresso makers are available in pump and steam models.

French Press

Also known by several other names, including Cafetiere à Piston, Plunger Pot, and Press Pot, the French Press combines the coffee grounds and hot water in a container where they steep. A plunger is then pressed down slowly, trapping most of the coffee, and allowing the user to pour off the filtered coffee to drink.

Written by Mary Elizabeth