How to use a coffee maker?

Picture of a Coffee Maker with Carafe on Table
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Coffee is one of the most popular drinks around the world. You see coffee available in hotel lobbies, car dealerships, spas, and countless other places we visit in our day-to-day lives, but that doesn’t mean that everyone drinks coffee or even knows how to use a coffee maker for that matter.

For those of us who drink coffee daily, we could make coffee in our sleep… some days it feels like we are, am I right? But using a coffee maker isn’t the most intuitive process in the world. If you’ve never done it before, never fear! It’s as simple as pouring water, placing a coffee filter, adding coffee grounds, and powering it on. You just have to know the right order to do it in.

Not all coffee makers work exactly the same, but they all contain the same elements that ultimately result in some form of coffee. I’m going to cover how coffee makers work, how to use one, and some helpful hints to keep in mind.

Coffee maker vocabulary

In order to know how to use a coffee maker, it will be helpful to know what the terminology is referring to. Consider this a glossary of sorts. These are some of the key terms you’re going to want to know, specific to standard drip coffee makers.

Water reservoir: This is where you pour the water that will eventually stream through the coffee grounds and produce the drip coffee. Typically, these are marked with indicators to let you know how much coffee you’re making, usually measured in cups.

Carafe: This is the pot where the coffee is collected. It can also be used to measure out water that you will pour into the reservoir.

Heating element: This is what the carafe sits on top of. It helps keep the coffee warm once it’s been brewed.

Coffee filter: This is where the coffee grounds are placed prior to brewing. The hot water streams through the coffee grounds and the filter helps to keep the grounds out of the pot of coffee.

Coffee basket: This sits above the carafe and holds the coffee filter. It has a nozzle that allows the coffee to drip below into the carafe.

How coffee makers work

If you’re a visual learner, this video covers how coffee makers work in a format that’s quick and easy to understand.

If you learn better from reading, here’s a rundown:

  1. The water poured into the reservoir levels out within the coffee maker through internal tubing.
  2. The tubing brings the water within proximity of the heating element, which heats the water in the tubing and also the hot plate where the carafe sits.
  3. Once hot enough, the water begins to boil and bubbles form.
  4. The pressure from the bubbles helps push the water through the tubing and down into the coffee filter, which holds the coffee grounds.
  5. The hot water streams through the grounds and takes the coffee oil with it, while the filter helps to keep the grounds from going anywhere.
  6. The hot water and coffee oil drips into the carafe and collects until a pot of coffee has been brewed.

How to use a coffee maker

Now that you understand how a standard drip coffee maker works, it will be easier to follow the process of actually using one yourself. This is the simplest way to use a coffee maker that involves the fewest amount of steps. There are more advanced brewing methods that are said to produce a better-tasting coffee, but let’s start with the most basic method here.

  1. Fill the carafe with the amount of water that coincides with the amount of coffee you’d like to make (i.e. 4 cups of water for a 4-cup pot of coffee).
  2. Pour the water into the reservoir.
  3. Place a coffee filter in the coffee basket.
  4. Fill the coffee filter with coffee grounds. The amount will vary depending on how many cups of coffee you’re making. The rule of thumb is to add one tablespoon of coffee grounds per cup of water.
  5. Make sure the carafe is in place on the heating element and the lid to the coffee maker is closed, then press the power button to begin the brew cycle.

Things to keep in mind when brewing coffee

If you’ve never used a coffee maker before, you may not be familiar with exactly what to expect as the coffee brews. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

● The coffee maker will likely make a gurgling noise while it is brewing. This is completely normal and is the result of the heated water bubbles making their way through the coffee maker’s tubing.

● The coffee will drip slowly into the pot (hence, the name “drip coffee maker”), but overall the process shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes.

● Many coffee makers have an “auto-off” function that will turn the heating element off after a certain amount of time. The time will vary based on the model, but don’t be surprised if you find it has shut off after a little while.

● Don’t let the coffee sit in the pot all day and expect it to taste good later. Coffee is best when consumed freshly brewed.

Even if you don’t drink coffee, it can be helpful to know how to use a coffee maker. Many offices and workplaces have coffee makers and it’s always a nice gesture to brew up a fresh pot. If your spouse or roommate drinks coffee, you can surprise them with the smell of fresh coffee in the morning. Or you can always be prepared should you have a guest that can’t start their day without a cup of Joe.

Once the whole process has been boiled down, using a coffee maker isn’t intimidating at all! Knowing what each part is and what its purpose is makes brewing a pot of coffee a breeze. And once you learn it, you’ll never forget it, just like riding a bike!