A Brief History of Coffee Makers

Published: 20th May 2010
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The Good Ol' Days: A Pan on the Campfire

For thousands of years, people have been brewing coffee. During most of that time, coffee was made in a simple pan filled with coffee grounds and water from the local well or stream.

The mixture was placed on the campfire, or wood stove in later years, and when the coffee seemed more or less the right color, it would be poured through a strainer and into whatever kind of cup was being used. Although it was a workable system, the strength of the coffee couldn't be controlled with much accuracy and it could be messy. The process also left quite a few chewy coffee grounds in the coffee, and a cup of chewy coffee has never been considered a gourmet treat. The main reason this method was used was that it was easy, and there wasn't really any other choice.

Bubbling, Percolating Coffee

Around 1850, people finally figured out a better method of brewing coffee. The percolator was a machine that boiled water and forced it through coffee grounds to make a cup of coffee. The percolator was easy to use and gave more control than the simple pan of water and coffee, but percolators still didn't control the quality of the coffee that well, and the coffee still made contact with the heating element (which sometimes gave it a "burnt" flavor). Another problem was that the somewhat acidic coffee would often eventually eat through the metal. Later percolator coffee makers were made of better alloys, but it continued to be a problem. Early percolators were used on the stove, but later electrical models had occasional problems with their heating elements burning out.

Modern Times: The Automatic Drip Coffee Maker

Percolators were popular until the early 1970s when the first automatic drip coffee maker was invented by Mr. Coffee. To this day, the automatic drip coffee maker remains the favored machine in most kitchens. There are many different types, from simple one cup devices to complex machines with their own computer chips, but they all have a reservoir for water, a heating element that heats the water as it passes through a small metal pipe and a basket with ground coffee. The water, heated to 200 degrees, runs through the coffee and the resulting coffee drips into the carafe. The automatic drip coffee maker is easy to use, and also allows fine control over the resulting coffee. As the brewed coffee never touches the heating element (the water is heated prior to dripping through the grounds), the danger of "burnt" coffee is reduced and an overall better cup of coffee is produced.

Replacement Carafes

Many automatic drip coffee makers use glass carafes. Unfortunately, they are easy to break, especially when you are rushing to get things together in the morning! If this unfortunate event happens, you will need a replacement carafe. Click on over to Replacement Carafe Net to see what carafe your coffee maker needs!

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