Since coffee as we know it spread from the Middle East to Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries it has steadily grown in popularity along with the technology created to brew it.
For the first few centuries brewing coffee was a pretty straightforward operation: coffee beans were ground and poured into a pot and hot water poured in on top of them. In 1701 the French introduced the infusion process by which ground coffee was placed in a linen sack and the sack submerged in a pot of hot water. The coffee was then allowed to steep (like a tea bag) until the desired strength was achieved. Technological innovation reached a fever pitch during the 18th century which saw the invention of drip coffee machines and coffee percolators as well as the metal filter. The late 19th century saw the introduction of the espresso machine and in recent decades the standard electric drip coffee maker has taken the kitchens of the world by storm.
The Principal Types of Coffee Maker
The Electric Drip Coffee Maker – As we mentioned the, best coffee maker (automatic electric drip) has achieved a level of market penetration that’s the envy of all other types. Its success can be chalked up almost entirely to its convenience. The main components of this type of coffee maker include a reservoir for the water, a pump to deliver the water to the filter or basket where the ground coffee is waiting and a carafe to catch the coffee as it drips from the filter/basket. There is also a hot plate under the carafe to keep the coffee warm. In addition, most modern drip coffee makers include a digital clock and a timer that can be set to start the brewing process whenever you choose.
- Speed and convenience.
- Appealing to those with busy schedules.
- Can be programmed to start at a time of your choosing.
- Water distribution over the ground coffee is typically poor.
- No control over water temperature.
- Coffee left on the hot plate can burn.
The French Press – The French Press has been around since the mid-19th century. It cuts a distinctive profile with its tube-like glass structure, rounded top, plunger and prominent handle. A coarse grind is preferred for the French Press to minimize grounds in your cup. The French Press is a surprisingly simple concept and process. Ground coffee is poured into the pot. Hot water (ideally around 200F) is poured onto the ground coffee. After a minute the press is placed in the pot and the lid secured. After 3 more minutes your coffee should be ready. You then press the plunger slowly to the bottom. This action removes the grounds (most of them anyway) from the brewed coffee and holds them aside at the bottom.
- Coffee is typically very flavorful.
- More control over the process.
- No motors to burn out.
- Better espresso machines can be quite costly.
- Have to clean after every shot.
- Can be expensive to fix the machine if it breaks down.
The Percolator – The percolator enjoyed widespread popularity in the days before the advent of the modern electric drip coffee maker. Today they are more of a niche item but aficionados of percolated coffee often won’t drink anything else. The classic percolator consists of a stainless steel pot with a lid. Inside the pot is a metal basket suspended above the water with a pipe running from the bottom of the pot up into the basket. Boiling water rushes up the pipe and is dispersed over the ground coffee in the basket and then drips back into the pot. The classic percolator also contains a glass knob in the center of the lid that allows you to see the water as it percolates up to the basket. This way you can monitor the color of the liquid and stop the process when it achieves your desired richness.
- Old school all the way.
- Great deal of control over the final product.
- The aroma circulating through the house during the brew process.
- Cares not if you’re in a rush.
- More cleanup than with some other methods.
Coffee makers have come a long way in the past 2 centuries and ongoing refinements ensure the various coffee making machines will continue to produce a higher grade, more enjoyable product going forward for the millions of coffee buffs the world over. Whether you require a machine that’ll make the perfect gift for your man or one that you hope will propel your business by offering amazing coffee, there’s bound to be one available that caters to your needs. Which one will be right for you, however, will depend on your schedule, budget, personal preferences and requirements.