Do Coffee Machines Boil Water?

July 27, 2022
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Most Coffee Makers are Incapable of Reaching the Boiling Point

If you have a coffee machine and a guest requests tea, you might be wondering whether your coffee machine can make the water hot enough. Can you use the coffee maker and not put coffee in it? Do coffee machines boil water? Or does the water not get hot enough?

As it turns out, most coffee machines don’t bring water to a boiling point. They come within a few degrees, but boiling isn’t necessary to get coffee water to the right temperature. Unless you live somewhere very high altitude or have a specific type of coffee machine, your coffee maker does not bring water to a boiling point.

However, making tea and other recipes with water from a coffee machine is still possible. It’s essential to know how hot your water gets if you’re trying to make tea with it or use it for boiled water. Keep reading for a full guide on coffee machines and boiling water.

Do Coffee Machines Boil Water?

Most coffee machines do not boil water. Water boils at 212°F or 100°C. To make coffee, coffee and espresso machines generally get the water to between 200°F and 205°F. This is plenty warm enough to drip through the coffee grounds and create a strong cup of coffee without burning the coffee grounds.

While most coffee machines do not fully boil water, a few do. Always check your brand and specific model of coffee maker to ensure that you know how it works and how hot the water gets. Some stovetop coffee makers can get water to boiling temperatures. However, they usually aren’t pre-programmed.

Photo of a Coffee Machine on a Counter Next to Coffee Beans

The Overwhelming Majority of Coffee Machines Don’t Heat Water to the Boiling Point

Of course, external factors like altitude or thinness of air will also affect boiling temperature. If you live in a high-altitude state like Colorado, check your altitude and adjust any boiling instructions to match. Water may boil at a lower temperature at a high altitude, which can make coffee machines boil water.

Coffee machines come close to but don’t completely bring the water to a boil. This usually doesn’t make a difference for the coffee itself but can be inconvenient if you need boiled water. If you need to make a recipe with boiling water or want your coffee to be made with fully boiled water, you’ll have to make it differently or boil it using the stovetop.

Can Coffee Machines Sterilize Water?

Because most coffee machines come close to boiling water, many assume they can use their coffee machines in emergencies or for other recipes. However, in a boil water advisory, sterilization, or emergent situation, you should not use a coffee maker to boil your tap water. Instead, boil water on the stove or in a tea kettle.

If you are on a boil water advisory or get water from a well instead of city water, you should boil your water for at least a minute. Unless your coffee machine has a setting to boil water, use a regular pot or electric water kettle to boil your water. You can also use bottled water or store-bought gallons of water to make coffee.

How Do Coffee Makers Heat the Water?

The water in the compartment is heated by a separate heating unit in standard drip coffee makers. Usually, this heating unit consists of metal coils that heat up, bringing the water to the proper temperature for coffee. While this isn’t usually boiling, it’s still very hot and shouldn’t be touched.

Coffee machines have a heating element that is able to heat cold water in small amounts and bring them up to the ideal water temperature for coffee brewing, which is why they work so quickly. At the same time, a pot of water heats it all at once and can take ten to fifteen minutes, depending on the size of the pot. However, a coffee machine heats it in small amounts at a time, which makes the process faster.

Once the water is hot enough, it drips over the coffee grounds and into the cup or coffee pot. As it heats the small amounts, the water drips over the coffee grounds and uses the oil to create coffee. This process heats the water and makes coffee as quickly as possible in the coffee maker.

Water in a coffee pot is supposed to flavor the coffee grounds without over brewing them. The average temperature is calculated by coffee experts and doesn’t generally vary between coffee makers. However, specific coffee makers have different settings and heat water at different speeds.

Some coffee makers, though, have different types of water heaters. Pour over coffee makers don’t have water heaters. Instead, you have to heat the water separately and pour it over the coffee grounds. The temperature depends on the type of coffee and the speed of the pour-over coffee machine.

Do Espresso Machines Boil Water?

Espresso machines are very similar to coffee machines but have more steps and are more finely tuned than proper coffee makers. Instead of simply heating the water and forcing it over the coffee grounds, an espresso machine fine-tunes the entire process, from the boiling point to the time spent in the coffee.

Photo of an Espresso Machine

Espresso Machines Can Get Extremely Hot - Although Usually Not to the Boiling Point

Espresso machines generally have more settings than coffee makers, as espressos can vary greatly in quality from a small difference in temperature or coffee grounds. Most espresso machines don’t have a setting to boil water to 212°F, but some have settings from 190°F to 212°F. Check your machine for specific settings.

Espresso machines do more than push water through coffee grounds. They have several heat and speed settings, which can make different types of espresso. The heat settings on your specific espresso machine depend on the brand and type. Follow manual instructions to discover how hot your espresso machine can heat the water.

Of course, if your espresso machine doesn’t boil water and your water isn’t clean, you’ll have to boil it before putting water in the coffee machine. No matter what setting you put it on, an espresso machine that doesn’t make it to 212°F won’t clean your water or get the bacteria out. You should properly filter or boil the water first.

Does a Coffee Percolator Boil Water?

A percolator actually does boil water, and the rising steam is used to brew coffee. That said, a percolator shouldn't be used to sterilize water, as the water is incorporated onto your cup of coffee.

Does Brewing Coffee Sterilize the Water?

If you leave water in your coffee machine overnight, you might wonder if it’s still safe to drink. Unfortunately, any added bacteria will only be sterilized out of the water at boiling temperature, and most coffee machines don’t boil water completely. Instead of brewing old water into coffee, use new water or boil it on the stove.

Water gathers bacteria from the air, saliva, and contaminated surfaces. After a few days, exposed water can gather enough bacteria to make it unsafe, and brewing coffee will not clear it of bacteria. Unless you have an airtight water container, it’s best to boil water for at least a minute before using it to boil coffee.

Photo of a coffee machine with two nozzles

Since the Boiling Point is Never Achieved in a Coffee Machine, Water isn’t Sterilized

Brewing coffee doesn’t sterilize the water, but water doesn’t go bad as quickly as you might think. Unless you have issues with mold or unclean air quality in your home, you won’t have to boil your water. Always check the local news or your public water service to check the water quality in your area.

If you need to boil water before using it in a coffee maker, you can boil water separately (on the stove or in an electric kettle) and pour it into the coffee maker afterward. Boiling water and keeping it in the fridge is also effective for those living with well water or other unsafe water sources.

How To Boil Water in a Coffee Maker

Although it doesn’t get to 212°F and therefore isn’t technically boiling, coffee makers can bring water to a bubbling heat and become hot enough for several types of recipes. Tea, ramen, and other instant foods can be made from a clean coffee maker, which can be extremely useful for those without access to a stove.

To heat water in your coffee maker, ensure the machine is clean and free of any coffee or bean residue. Once clean, you can pour water as you usually would and turn the machine on. Put the clean coffee pot underneath to collect the hot water safely.

Once you’ve collected the hot water, you can steep tea in it or use it for another recipe. However, it’s always better to use a stovetop to boil water if you are under a health advisory or need to boil water for your health. Otherwise, you can use your coffeemaker as an emergency water boiler.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about boiling water in coffee makers. While they don’t boil water, making other things in a coffee machine is possible. Hopefully, if you have read this guide and are still unsure, these will answer your questions.

How hot does the water in a coffee maker get?

The water in a coffee maker gets to an average of 195-205°F. This is about 12°F below boiling and not high enough to completely boil or clean the water of bacteria. However, it’s the right temperature for making coffee without over-steeping the grounds. Boiling water tends to make coffee taste acrid and slightly burnt.

Can I make tea in a coffee machine?

While a coffee machine doesn’t produce boiling water, it can be used to make tea. Different types of tea have different suggested heat and steeping times, but if you are in a hotel room with no stove and only a coffee maker, you can run the coffee machine without grounds and use the hot water to steep tea.

Making ramen and other instant mixing recipes (like instant coffee) with water from a coffee machine is also possible. Most of these recipes don’t need boiling water, just close to boiling. Always check your coffee maker settings and follow recipes properly.

Will boiling water burn coffee grounds?

Coffee machines heat water to 205°F for a specific reason. It’s the best temperature for making coffee without over-steeping the grounds and over-flavoring the coffee cup. However, boiling water poured over coffee grounds won’t burn the grounds. It will provide lots of flavors and might taste a bit acrid.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this piece has answered your question of “do coffee machines boil water?” Coffee makers and espresso machines don’t boil water because coffee tastes best a few degrees below boiling.

While it’s not safe to sterilize water in a coffee machine, you can make tea, ramen, or other recipes. Coffee makers get water close to the natural boiling point but don’t quite make it there.

Frank Salvatore

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!

About Me
Frank Salvatore
I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!
Learn More About Me
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