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.


  1. 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?

  2. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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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