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:
Espresso Coffee Makers
These are the quintessential Italian coffee machines. They work by pushing hot water through finely ground coffee at extremely high pressure, creating a small amount of extremely strong, powerful coffee - an espresso shot. This can be drunk by itself, or can be mixed with hot water (an Americano), hot milk (a cafe au lait), or hot frothed milk (a latte). Espresso machines can be expensive and temperamental, but the coffee they create is perfect for a serious coffee addict.
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!