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Coffee in an electric drip brewer (a model like this) goes all murky brown and opaque very fast, when the pot is left without a lid. With lid, it stays translucent and bright dark brown for quite a bit longer.

What is the process that happens without lid? Reference link to wikipedia or something would be great.

I need the information to educate certain co-workers who just take off the filter part and leave the pot open, when they take coffee...

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Do you have pictures of what you're referring to? I've never witnessed coffee becoming murky, at least without sitting for quite a while. – SourDoh Sep 27 '13 at 21:03
maybe @hyde is referring to the film that collects on top? – smcg Oct 4 '13 at 15:00

Whether solid or liquid, when covering anything you are inhibiting water from evaporating. In this case this is because the air in the coffeepot shares some of the moisture of the coffee, removing the lid allows this moist air to escape and be replaced by dry air, in turn this dry air extracts more moisture from the coffee. Now, knowing that coffee mainly consist of minerals and water, you can conclude that on the surface of the coffee these minerals start to clutter, because less water is present in between them. This explains the visual aspect. Also you could argue that when the lid is off the top layer of the coffee cools down more rapidly, due to this warm (moist) air escaping. And while the coffee may be hot, it is the outer layer that is cooler and has the typical opaque visuals of a cold coffee. I am speculating here, but Im pretty sure this is whats happening. I couldnt find anything to reference my ideas but hope its a help anyway.

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