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Coffee Brewing Systems and the Origin of the Coffee Maker

The coffee in your mug is the final result of a long preparation and brewing process. A coffee bean is actually a cooked and dried seed, from inside a cherry-like berry. Coffee berries are picked from the bush, typically in warmer climates. Their seeds (the coffee bean) are removed, dried, and roasted to taste. The beans are shipped to your location, crushed into coarse or very fine pieces, and then they are ready for submersion in hot or boiling water. The resulting broth is then filtered to remove the bitter, crunchy beans giving you coffee.

Drip brewing

Once we learned that processing the coffee bean resulted in a delicious new and energizing beverage, we came up with new, easier ways to brew it. The first form of our modern day coffee maker was called “drip brewing.” This is the brewing process as simple as it can be- the dried and crushed coffee beans were place in a cloth filter then both into a funnel. Warm water was poured into the funnel and filter, allowing coffee to drip into a carafe.

Percolators & French Press

Percolators and French Presses were next, coming shortly or around the same time as drip brewing. With Percolators, boiling water is forced up a shaft and into the same filter/funnel combination used in drip brewing. The process is repeated until desired strength is achieved.

With French presses, boiling water is heated separately then poured in the French press. A plunger attached to a metal filter is pushed into the container, forcing the beans to the bottom. The filtered liquid is then poured into a carafe or serving cup.

What are the main differences between these coffee brewing methods? In percolation, water is heated and filtered within the same unit. The paper and cloth filters absorb some of the oils in coffee, so the French pressed coffee contains more of the bean’s oils.

Modern Electric Coffee Maker

Electric drip coffee makers combine heating and brewing coffee with the touch of a button. Cold water is heated to boiling (an interior thermostat tells the heater when to turn off) then forced up a tube and dropped on the filter/funnel holding coffee beans. This mixture slowly drips in to the carafe.

The first electric coffee maker invented in 1954. The German “Wigomat” became very popular, but electric coffee makers did not become widely available in the US until the 1970’s.

The Many Styles of Coffee Makers and Carafes

Since the invention of the electric coffee maker, almost every small appliance company created and evolved a version for themselves. The desire to be a part of this popular market leads to thousands of carafes and coffee machine designs varying in shape, brand and capacity. Among these styles stand the Mr. Coffee carafes, Braun and Sunbeam coffee makers, the programmable 12 cup coffee makers by Cuisinart®, single-cup carafes, 4-cup, 12-cup, and thermal coffee carafes.

With a million different styles and brands to choose from, it can be difficult to replace the carafe you already have. How do you know what will fit?

Medelco makes finding the right carafe for your machine easy. Our Universal Carafe and other specially made carafes are sure to fit your current machine without having to buy an entire replacement coffee maker. Contact Medelco or refer to Medelco’s Product Fit List to find your replacement carafe.


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