How to Make Coffee With A Drip Coffee Maker: An Easy Guide
Many of us associate drip coffee with the scalding, bitter, and astringent cups of burned brew we find at diners and gas stations. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With a good burr grinder, the correct coffee-to-water ratio, and great coffee beans, you’ll be brewing coffee better than your local coffee shop!
Keep reading to learn how to brew coffee with a coffee maker.
What You Need
- 120 grams whole bean coffee
- 2.1 litres room-temperature water
- Burr grinder
- Coffee Scale
- 12-cup drip coffee maker
- Either flat-bottom or cone-shaped paper coffee filters
At A Glance
How to Make Coffee With A Coffee Maker
The best method of making coffee comes down to your needs. While coffee nerds might advocate for something complex like siphon brewing, I’m here to tell you there is no reason the humble drip coffee maker can’t deliver a perfect cup. Keep reading for the basics of how to make coffee in a coffee maker.
Drip Coffee: A Bitter Brew
The average cheap drip coffee maker has literally left a bitter taste in the mouths of anyone looking for more than just a basic cup of caffeinated brown water. Fortunately, problems like channelling, incorrect brew temperature, and coffee left to sit on a hot plate for hours are all easily solvable. You just need to get your brewing fundamentals down. And for that, we’re here to help.
How Do Drip Machines Brew Coffee?
A drip machine brews drip coffee by dispersing hot water over a bed of medium-grind coffee into the waiting carafe below. Unlike brewing with a Moka pot or espresso machine, the drip machine relies on gravity instead of pressure to pass hot water through the coffee bed. Since there is nothing more than ambient pressure aiding the extraction process, getting your brew temperature and grind size right is imperative.
The Fundamentals of a Drip Coffee Recipe
Every coffee brewing method, from espresso to coffee percolation and even cold brew, requires you to dial in the same set of variables:
- High-quality fresh coffee
- The appropriate grind size
- The correct coffee-to-water ratio
- The optimal brew temperature
- And an excellent grinder yielding uniform coffee grounds
Drip machines take some of these factors out of the equation, so they’re easy for coffee beginners. Unlike pour-overs, drip coffee machines automate the brew temperature and water dispersion. All you must worry about is how much ground coffee to use, buying great whole-bean coffee, and getting the grind size just right.
Burr vs. Blade Grinders
Grind size and brew temperature are the most important elements to brewing delicious coffee in your coffee maker. Most home coffee makers are calibrated to brew coffee within the optimal range of between 90 and 96 degrees Celsius, so as long as you don’t let your coffee sit on the hot plate for more than half an hour, your coffee shouldn’t taste bitter (1).
One of the major reasons coffee tastes unpleasant is the coffee grinder you’re using to grind coffee beans. It’s crucial to use burr grinders rather than blade grinders.
Burr grinders crush coffee beans between stainless steel or ceramic burrs, while blade grinders cut coffee beans into increasingly smaller pieces. Eventually, these coffee beans become too small to make adequate contact with the blades. This results in a very wide distribution in the size of coffee grinds, resulting in uneven coffee extraction and a bitter, sour, or astringent taste (2).
How To Make Coffee From A Coffee Machine
You’ve mastered the basics, so let’s get brewing. Here are four easy steps for how to make good coffee in a coffee maker.
1. Weigh and Grind Your Coffee
How much coffee to put in coffee maker dictates the strength of your morning cup. The standard ratio of coffee to water is 10 g of coffee per 175-ml serving. For your 12-cup coffee maker, weigh 120 grams of coffee using a coffee scale or kitchen scale. Ideally, it should be accurate to 0.1 grams.
Adjust the quantity accordingly if your brewer is smaller or larger. Similarly, if you prefer a stronger brew, increase the ratio to as much as 15 g of coffee per 175-ml serving.
After weighing, grind the coffee to medium using a burr grinder.
Pro Tip: Different roast levels extract differently and warrant different grind sizes. Use a slightly finer grind for a lighter roast and a slightly coarser grind for a darker roast.
2. Fill Water Reservoir
Fill your coffee maker’s water reservoir with 2.1 litres of room-temperature water. Be sure not to fill the reservoir over the max fill line.
Pro Tip: Use filtered water for the best-tasting cup of drip coffee, especially if you live in a region with hard or bad-tasting tap water. This will not only make your coffee taste better but will preserve the longevity of your coffee machine.
3. Add Coffee and Brew
Place either a cone or basket paper coffee filter into the filter basket, depending on the style of your coffee maker. Add the coffee grounds. Gently tap and shake the filter basket on the countertop to settle the coffee grounds, ensuring the coffee bed is level before placing it into the machine.
If you have a no-frills unit, simply press “Start” to begin brewing. Otherwise, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for setting the flow rate and brew temperature.
Pro Tip: Some coffee makers come with a built-in metal mesh coffee filter allowing you to brew coffee directly without using a paper filter. It’s an environmentally friendly and cost-effective choice, but it yields a different style of coffee, similar to a French press. Paper filters trap more coffee oil than metal, so use a paper filter if you enjoy a cleaner cup with a lighter body.
4. Turn the Automatic Coffee Maker Off and Enjoy
Once your coffee maker finishes brewing, turn it off and serve the coffee immediately. You can add milk, sugar, or cream if you prefer, but try it black first. If this is your first time brewing coffee correctly, you might be surprised by the great-tasting coffee.
Pro Tip: Avoid leaving the carafe on the hot plate if you want the best piping hot brew. Home Grounds suggests finding a machine with an insulated stainless steel coffee pot if you need to keep your coffee hot for more than half an hour.
Drip coffee doesn’t have to be bitter, unevenly extracted, or astringent. You just need to master the fundamentals like grind size and coffee-to-water ratio. With this simple guide on how to make coffee, you have all you need to enjoy a great cup of morning coffee every time.
We’d love to hear from you! Do you have any top tips for how to make coffee in a coffee pot? Drop us a comment or start a discussion in our Home Grounds Facebook group, watch and subscribe to us on YouTube, or follow and tag us on Instagram!
You make drip coffee without a machine using a pour over coffee maker. The most common among specialty coffee drinkers are the Kalita Wave, Chemex, and Hario V60. But you can mimic a pour-over step by placing a fine mesh sieve over a glass pitcher, lining the sieve with a paper filter, and pouring 96-degree water over a bed of ground coffee.
Yes, you can make drip coffee with espresso beans. Espresso beans are simply coffee beans that the roaster thinks will make a tasty espresso (3). However, avoid using pre-ground espresso, as the grind size will be much too fine and will leave you with an over-extracted, bitter cup.
The best way to brew a single cup of coffee is to use an Aeropress coffee maker, pour over dripper, or by using a coffee press. Some drip coffee makers have special settings for brewing a single cup, but those that don’t tend to produce watery brews with weak flavour when brewing small volumes.
A brewed coffee is any coffee made by combining ground coffee and water, including using a French press, coffee pot, or percolator. While we typically only think of hot coffee, cold brew and iced coffee are also brewed coffees.
- SCA Coffee. (n.d.). SCA Standard 310-2021 Home Coffee Brewers: Specifications and Test Methods. Retrieved from https://static1.squarespace.com/static/584f6bbef5e23149e5522201/t/627a7d573a312660afa06f53/1652194648151/SCA_Standard_310-2021_Dev03.pdf
- RNY Traders. (2018, June 29). How Does Uniform Particle Size Affect Extraction? Retrieved from https://www.royalny.com/2018-6-28-does-uniform-particle-size-affect-your-brew/
- Pines, H. (2019, July 8). Roasting For Filter Coffee vs. For Espresso. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2019/07/roasting-for-filter-coffee-vs-for-espresso/