How Does a Coffee Maker Work?

By Dave Donovan

Components of a Coffee Maker

Most people can't get started in the morning without a good swift kick to the pants. Well, that or a nice strong cup of coffee! But how does your coffee maker take regular cold tap water and turn it into a cup of steaming, rich, black deliciousness? The inner workings of a coffee maker are really not that mind blowing at all. The typical coffee maker features an on/off switch, a heating element, a warming plate, a chamber for holding the cold water and a rubber tube for delivering the hot water to be dripped through the grounds and a glass carafe.

How a Coffee Maker Works

When you make a pot of coffee, the first thing you do is fill the holding chamber with cold water. Inside the chamber, you will see a piece of rubber tubing stretching from the bottom of the chamber to the top. At the bottom of the holding chamber, you will see a hole.When you turn the coffee maker on, water is drawn into the hole at the bottom of the chamber. At the same time, electric is delivered to the heating element and the warming plate begins to heat. The water travels through a one-way valve into an aluminum tube which wraps around the base of the warming pad. Inside the tube, the water is boiled using the same heat that is making the warming pad hot. Once heated, the water travels back up through the black rubber tube and drips onto and through the grounds of coffee.The coffee maker has a number of temperature sensors designed to cut the power to the coil if it starts getting too hot.

Potential Coffee Maker Problems

While the coffee maker is a relatively simple and trouble-free appliance, there are still a few things that can go wrong with it. One of the most common problems is that the aluminum tube can get clogged with calcium. This is remedied by running white vinegar through the machine. Just be sure to run two more cycles of clean water through it before making another pot of coffee.Another problem is that the one-way valve can get stuck in the open position. Usually, something got into the coffee pot's holding chamber and obstructed it. It can usually be cleared out by using a toothpick.On the electrical end, your coffee maker's on/off switch or power cord can ultimately go bad. While these are relatively easy to fix, with the price of coffee machines so low, it may be better just to purchase a new one.