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What is a Coffee Machine?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

A coffee machine is an electric, automatic brewing system typically used for making coffee. Before the invention and widespread use of electricity, different types of non-electric, coffee-making equipment were used. Many brands and models of coffee machines are now available for both household and commercial use. These coffee machines usually have outer coverings made of metal or plastic.

Commercial coffee machines typically are designed for constant use in restaurants and other food-service businesses. A coffee machine made for the home may only last a few years with heavy use, but most machines are fairly inexpensive to replace. Coffee machines usually have a water reservoir, a filter, brewing system, and a glass or ceramic pot. Some machines are basic, while others may have different features such as a clock and timer. These models allow coffee drinkers to prepare and program their machines to create a freshly brewed beverage at a time of their choosing.

A cup of coffee.
A cup of coffee.

It can be important to note that current electric coffee machines still brew on the basic concepts developed in the early- to mid-19th century. Percolation, in which water moves upward through a hollow cylinder through the coffee, dates back to early 19th century France. In the mid-10th century in England, the vacuum style of coffee machine was developed: a vacuum mechanism channels water from one pot to another. A tap controlled the flow of the prepared coffee for serving.

With a coffee machine, the coffee grounds are placed into the filter before the automated process starts.
With a coffee machine, the coffee grounds are placed into the filter before the automated process starts.

A modern coffee machine usually passes or drips water automatically through the grounds; this process is known as a drip brew. Water is first placed into the reservoir in the machine. A paper filter is typically used in many coffee machines. The coffee grounds are placed into the filter. When the machine is plugged into an electrical outlet, the automatic drip brewing process begins; ready-to-drink coffee is usually produced within minutes.

Automatic coffee machines usually feature a warming element so that the coffee in the glass pot will remain warm until it is needed. Home coffee machines typically brew between 10 and 12 cups at once. There are also mini coffee makers that brew only one or two cups at any one time. Many coffee machines are designed to sit on a countertop, but there are also models made to attach under kitchen cabinets in order to save space. Different models of coffee machines differ in the shape of paper filters they use; cone and round shapes of coffee filters are common.

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Discussion Comments


I'm planning on buying a coffee and cappuccino machine. What should I look for when I'm shopping? I don't mind paying extra, I want something that's durable and that can make different kinds of coffee.


@burcinc-- I think French press is okay if you only have one cup of coffee, but it's not good if you're a coffee lover like me and have two to three cups at a time.

A French press doesn't stay hot, so by the time I'm ready for my second cup, the coffee is warm already. And when there are guests, a French press doesn't make enough coffee.

I think the drip style coffee machine is best. I have a large one that makes up to twelve cups of coffee at a time. So it's perfect when there are guests and my coffee is never cold.


The French press is probably the most basic coffee machine out there, but it works.

I learned how to make coffee with a French press recently, and I'm surprised by how easy it is. I just add ground coffee and hot water and let it sit for five minutes. Then I press down to strain the coffee and my coffee is ready.

I've been making my morning coffee this way for the past week and I love it. It's easy to make, quick and very easy to clean.

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    • A cup of coffee.
      A cup of coffee.
    • With a coffee machine, the coffee grounds are placed into the filter before the automated process starts.
      By: andriigorulko
      With a coffee machine, the coffee grounds are placed into the filter before the automated process starts.