Can You Use a Coffee Maker to Boil Water

It is no surprise that coffee machines can heat water very quickly, and serve you a hot cup of coffee. Sometimes the coffee is way too hot to drink, and you end up having to wait a few minutes for it to cool down.

Since coffee makers heat the water much faster than you could on the stovetop, you might be wondering if you can just use your coffee maker to boil some water quicker and easier the next time you require boiled water.

The short answer is no, you cannot use a coffee maker to boil water. 

While it seems like it would make sense for your coffee maker to boil water, this isn’t exactly the case, and we will explain why.

What Is Boiling Water?

To understand what separates boiling water from hot water, let’s take a quick peek at what boiling water really is.

Water that has been heated up to 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit) at sea level is considered to be boiled. Since water reaches its boiling point more quickly at higher altitudes due to lower atmospheric pressure, you might notice that your water boils at a temperature that is few degrees lesser than mentioned. If you’ve been wondering why some coffee makers have a setting where you can set your altitude, it is for this reason.

When the boiling point is finally reached, water starts vaporizing, transitioning from liquid state to gaseous state. You’ll notice that water starts bubbling when it gets close to the boiling point, and the formation of water vapor follows soon after.

Does a Coffee Maker Boil Water to Make Coffee?

Contrary to popular belief, coffee is not supposed to be brewed with boiling water, meaning that coffee makers have no reason to boil water. Instead, coffee makers bring the water temperature to a point where it’s considered to be ideal for brewing coffee as optimal coffee extraction happens at these temperatures.

That being said, some coffee makers have a hot water reservoir and dispenser which allows you to extract the hot water if you wish. While it’s not boiling water, hot water still comes in handy for things like preparing different warm beverages such as tea, making instant soup, or making oatmeal.

What is the Ideal Water Temperature for Brewing Coffee?

The ideal temperature for brewing coffee is considered to be between 90.5 and 96 degrees Celsius, (between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit) meaning that while the water is quite close to the boiling point, it’s not boiling just yet.

You may be wondering the reason behind these temperatures being ideal as they seem like magic numbers that came out of nowhere. Basically speaking, these temperatures are a product of trial and error. After testing with various temperatures over time, this range of temperatures is widely agreed upon to be the sweet spot for coffee extraction.

For this reason, most coffee makers are configured to use these temperatures by default. If you are curious about the temperature your coffee maker uses, you can most likely find this information in the manual, and even set the temperature of your coffee maker to your preference. Just like many other things in the coffee world, there is also some room for experimentation here, so feel free to change the temperature in small increments if you enjoy optimizing your coffee.

What Happens If Coffee Isn’t Brewed at the Ideal Temperature?

If coffee isn’t brewed at the ideal temperature, there are two different outcomes depending on whether the temperature is higher, or lower.

Brewing at a higher temperature than ideal will over-extract your coffee, where the bitter components of the coffee grounds start getting into your drink. In this case, you’ll notice that the taste of your coffee is ruined by the bitterness. Symptoms such as lack of flavor and dry mouthfeel are also signs that your coffee is over-extracted.

On the other hand, brewing at a temperature lower than ideal will cause your coffee to be under-extracted, meaning that components that add body to your coffee such as sugars and oils won’t be extracted. The absence of these components will cause your coffee to be acidic and sour, lacking actual flavor.

At this point, you may be thinking about how a percolator requires water to be boiled to be able to brew coffee, meaning that coffee is brewed at a higher temperature than ideal. This is actually a very good example of coffee not being brewed at the ideal temperature, which is why percolators are often not preferred by specialty coffee drinkers.

How Can I Check If My Coffee Is Brewed With the Right Temperature?

If you feel like your coffee maker isn’t hitting the right temperatures, you can always use a thermometer to check the temperature and see if it’s ideal. Note that water will lose some temperature by the time it makes its way to your cup, so if your thermometer shows a temperature that is a few degrees lower than ideal, there is probably nothing to be concerned about.

That being said, the mechanical parts which control the temperature can indeed start wearing out as coffee makers get older, which could cause your coffee to be brewed at completely wrong temperatures. For this reason, it’s a good idea to check the temperature of your brew every now and then to ensure that everything is in good shape. Measuring the temperature of your brew becomes extremely easy with the help of a kitchen thermometer, so you should consider getting one if you don’t already own one.

Conclusion

A coffee maker can heat water to very high temperatures, but unfortunately, it can’t boil water. While the hot water produced by the coffee maker will most likely be sufficient for most things, if you actually need boiling water, you will have to use an electric kettle or the stovetop.

Electric kettles are extremely efficient and quick when it comes to boiling water, so if you really hate having to use the stovetop, it might be a good idea to invest in one.

Have a great day and enjoy your coffee.