Drip Coffee Maker – How to make perfect coffee with a drip coffee maker

Drip Coffee Maker – How to make perfect coffee with a drip coffee maker

Saeco 12-Cup Automatic Drip Coffee Maker with Burr GrinderDrip coffee makers are the single most popular small kitchen appliance in the US. You can buy an automatic drip coffee maker for as little as ten dollars, or go all out for one with all the bells and whistles – including its own coffee grinder – for over two hundred dollars. And despite the growing love (and resulting culture of) espresso, even espresso lovers sometimes admit that they just want a good cup of joe.

A couple of years back, I worked in an office where coffee was the lubricant that kept the wheels humming. We ran round the clock, and the coffee pot was always on and always full. It was also more often than not, barely drinkable. The standing rule of the coffee pot was “If you drink the last cup, put on another pot”. From the day that I started working there and made my first pot of coffee, there was a new rule. “If you drink the last cup of coffee, let Deb know so she can make another pot.”

Whenever I put on a fresh pot, people would drift from the far side of the building, and by the time it was finished dripping, there was a line at the coffee pot, waiting for that first cup.

There’s no big secret to making good coffee with a drip coffee maker. It’s simple and straightforward – but there are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Invest in a coffee grinder.

It’s amazing what a difference that one single thing makes. When you grind coffee, you increase the surface area of the coffee bean that is exposed to air, hastening the release of the oils that give coffee its rich flavor. If possible, grind coffee right before you use it. If you don’t have a coffee grinder, buy at a store that sells whole beans that you can grind yourself. Buy just enough for a few days at a time, and store it in an airtight container at home.

2. Buy good coffee.

The better the coffee you start with, the better the coffee you’ll end up with. Of course, good coffee is a subjective thing. The one big suggestion I have here is that you avoid those big supermarket displays with plastic bins of coffee beans – the kind where you scoop or pour out beans into a bag. The bins aren’t airtight, and you have no idea how long they’ve been sitting in those bins getting stale. Vacuum-sealed bags or cans of coffee beans are better. Even ground coffee in a vacuum sealed bag is a better choice.

3. Keep your drip coffee maker and coffee pot clean.

Coffee oils cling to everything, and once they’re deposited they start growing rancid. Wash out your pot and filter basket every time you make a fresh pot, and clean your coffee maker once a week. Descale it once a month. And do remember to clean the shower heads up under where the filter basket goes. That’s an area most people never think to clean.

4. Use a paper filter.

You’ve probably seen ads for “permanent coffee filters” in gold or nylon. They sound like a great idea, but see #3 above. Coffee residues tend to collect in hard to clean places on them. It’s better and easier to buy good quality paper coffee filters and have a fresh one for every brew.

5. Use enough coffee.

The biggest mistake that people make when making coffee in a drip coffee maker is using too little coffee. So, how much coffee for one cup of coffee? You should use a full tablespoon of ground coffee for each 8 ounces(about 227 grams) of water. Measure it out the first few times and you’ll be surprised how much coffee that actually is.

6. Use fresh, cold water.

I’ve heard people recommend using distilled water with all the minerals and impurities removed. Frankly, distilled water is good for your machine, but it makes flat tasting coffee. If your tap water is good for drinking, it will make good coffee. If it’s not, use a water filter or use spring water.

7. Avoid the temptation to use the brew pause.

The first cup or so of coffee will carry most of the coffee flavor. If you pour that off and return the pot to fill the rest of the way, the first cup of coffee will be very strong, and the rest of the pot very weak. Practice patience, grasshopper.

8. Take the coffee off the warming plate when it’s done brewing.

Coffee left on the warmer plate will continue to “cook”. Instead, pour any coffee that’s left over into a thermal pot, preferably one with a vacuum seal.

That’s all there is to it. Follow that advice, and you’ll have the entire office lining up to drink your coffee, and skipping the afternoon run to the nearest Starbucks.

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  1. Bob Kamen says

    Once my beans are ground I find it very awkward to measure. Does anyone have the formula for the ratio of water to whole beans?

    • Tome Trajkovski says

      I always fresh grind my coffee beans for every pot of coffee.

      For measuring I use a typical coffee specific scoop, which is, or should be, 1 tablespoon. . I use one FULL scoop for every cup. For me, that is one scoop/tablespoon per 6oz of water, as I like my coffee on the stronger flavor side.

      So, how much whole coffee beans to one scoop of ground coffee? I measure one full scoop of beans and count is as one scoop of ground coffee. To get that I make sure that each scoop/tablespoon of beans creates a “mound” of beans in the scoop. That means that the bean amount goes over the level of the tablespoon scoop. That little bit of extra whole beans allows for the air space in a scoop of whole beans compared to the near zero air space when ground.

      Again, that’s 1 FULL/mound of whole coffee beans for every 1 tablespoon sized scoop of ground coffee. With this ratio I put in the amount of whole beans I need into the grinder, and then grind, and then use all of the fresh ground coffee to make my pot.
      My grinder has a grind cup that is removable. It’s very handy. After I grind the beans, I then remove the grind cup and pour it directly into my drip coffee maker. Easy.

      I’ve seen charts that give a “recommended” ground coffee to coffee “cup” of water. For coffee and tea a “cup” is only 6oz, which is obviously less than what is a standard 8oz cup we use for all standard measurement. There is a history to that, but you can look that up yourself. Over the decades, for my taste, I find that a tablespoon scoop of ground coffee to every 60z of water in a standard coffee maker makes the coffee as I like it. Standard coffee pots have markings on the pot. Each marking is 60z not 80z.

      The recommendation is that, when you make more coffee, then you can use less ground coffee. For example, my Mr. Coffee maker recommends 6.5 tablespoons/scoop for 8 coffee cups, where each cup is 6oz. 8-6oz coffee cups is 48oz. . BTW, 48oz is 6 regular 8oz cups. Odd, I know.

      You can do your own experiment to see how much coffee beans is equivalent to the size scoop of ground coffee that you like. Use you coffee grinder. Scoop out 1 standard tablespoon scoop of coffee beans. Grind those beans. Now, measure how much those ground beans are. If the ground beans fill a standard 1 Tablespoon scoop level to the top of the scoop, then you know how much whole bean to ground.

      For grinding I use a “pulsed” method, meaning, I don’t start to grind and keep grinding until I get the size of grind I want. BY pulsing I grind the coffee without the potential to “burn” my coffee beans with sustained high speed grinding. I use a standard “blade” style grinder. To grind, I do a total of 15 seconds of grind time. So, I do 3 pulses of 5 seconds each. For each second I count and say, “one Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc.”, to 5 Mississippi, then I stop grinding for a count of two seconds, then a second pulse of 5, stop for a two count, and then the 3rd round of 5 seconds. That gives me a great grind size for a drip coffee maker. You can experiment with what you like. Going longer on the grind will gives smaller and smaller grounds. However, if you grind is too small, then it could clog your coffee filter and you can get a spillover, or you may get grinds in your brewed coffee. If you grinds are too large, then your coffee may taste weaker, and you’re wasting coffee as larger grounds don’t expose as much coffee to the water. Again, experiment using the basics and go from there.

  2. pablo cervantes says

    Reading over these so-called corrections, it’s apparent making good coffee is extremely subjective. I’ve known people who were extremely proud of their coffee and, IMO, it tasted like sewer water smells. Experiment until it is right for YOU.

  3. Dave says

    Do NOT use paper filters…they filter out the oils, and bleached (white) filters affect the taste. And I’ve yet to read anything anywhere that agrees on the amount of grounds to water.

  4. Meg says

    Have been using my French Press for 4 months now…at first a bit tedious..but truly worth it because of the true full coffee flavor i enjoy so. I can’t fathom going back to paying $4 a day for coffee at the ‘bux.

  5. Robert Bruce says

    Re: using hot tap water vs. cold and dissolved lead, I believe manufacturers always recommend cold for the reason stated by another poster here, dissolved lead. Until recently all soldered joints were done with lead containing solder and hot water will absorb low levels of lead. Solders now do not have lead and of course most new construction uses plastic supply lines but what with the recent BPA controversy with plastics in microwaves perhaps the cold water recommendations are valid. Boiling tap water in a kettle first? probably a valid option.

  6. Ceil says

    I grew up making coffee for my folks, using an old drip pot .. I still have the pot! I strayed and used an electric drip coffee pot for a few years, but finally came to my senses and haven’t strayed since! I use CDM, cold water boiled and poured to drip slowly … I got hooked on coffee and chicory while living in New Orleans. I live in Texas now and was elated when I found a store that carried CDM!!!

  7. Meg says

    Bodum French Press…check!…Starbux Dark French Roast Beans…check!…Grinder…check!…prepped and ready for tomorrow mornings java! Thank You Coffee Friends for all the advice.

  8. Meg says

    Cool…thanks….I was worried I’d offend Coffee Aficianados…and Keurig might be a bit weak for that morning caffeine kick I enjoy…

  9. Tom says

    Hey, Yes on Keurig! People that have them love them!! Cool way to make single cup. And hot coco, tea… And different flavors of coffee.

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