Coffee makers work by percolating hot water slowly through ground coffee beans, picking up the flavour of the beans and turning the water into delicious coffee! There are numerous different types of coffee machines on the market, running the gamut from simple pots and mechanical presses to fully automatic electronic machines that not only brew coffee, but also froth milk to create lattes and cappuccinos. Below is an outline of the major different types of coffee makers:
Cafetières (French Press)
These are glass cylinders with a plunger on the top. Coffee grounds are loaded into the bottom of the cylinder, then hot water is poured in. This is left for 3-4 minutes to brew, then the plunger pushed down to compress the grounds, extracting the remainder of the coffee from the grounds and preventing them from escaping when pouring. French presses are much cheaper than espresso makers, since they require no electricity, and come in a variety of sizes, from small one person cylinders to giant presses for 10 people. The coffee produced is closer to filter coffee than expresso.
All different types of coffee machine have a cup capacity, which is the amount of coffee they can dispense at once. Many espresso machines only brew and serve a single cup at a time, while a filter coffee machine or French press can have the capacity to brew 3,6 or even 12 cups of coffee at once.
Some more advanced coffee machines - especially the automatic bean-to-cup machines, may have alternate modes for making other hot drinks. These can include hot chocolate, cold milk, or dispensing hot water for making tea. While not the prime function of a coffee maker, there are a nice extra to have built in to the machine.
Finally, certain brands of coffee makers may have extra functions to aid coffee making. These can include built-in grinders so the beans are always freshly ground, or a milk frother (also known as a steam pipe) to allow you to froth milk for cappuccinos and macchiatos. Finally, some coffee makers have timers, so that you can program your coffee to start brewing for a specific time. These are often found in filter coffee machines - these can be set to start percolating early in the morning, so that coffee is ready for when you wake up!