Although innovative, the K-cup machine is a primitive appliance. It simply combines aspects of a traditional drip machine with that of an espresso maker. The high pressures produced percolate coffee quicker than usual and in smaller quantities. Most machines can brew a regular-sized coffee in two minutes or less, requiring only fresh water and a K-cup capsule.
The Anatomy of a K-Cup
A K-cup comprises three components:
- A foil seal to keep the pod air-locked and penetrable;
- A plastic casing for preventing contact with moisture, light or oxygen;
- A paper filter to hold the coffee grind.
The machine punctures a hole in both the top and bottom of the K-cup when inserted into the chamber. This allows the water to enter and exit efficiently. The bottom flows directly into the cup, so much of the magic happens before percolation.
The K-Cup Chamber
The chamber connects to the machine’s pump. Once you select a cup size, it draws water from the reservoir and then warms it. The pressure created exceeds that of a drip-machine, but it cannot pull a proper shot of espresso. That said, newer models come close, creating 15 to 20 bars of pressure on some settings.
For regular coffee, the pump will push water through once it hits roughly 192 degrees. At this temperature, brewing takes less than a minute.
Although a simple process, there are points of failure in the K-cup machine. The pump can calcify over time without descaling and the chamber can clog from leftover ground not swept away. To keep the machine running efficiently, adopt a frequent cleaning schedule!