Sponsored by Above Average Coffee.
In the coffee community, the drip coffee maker gets a hard time, and it’s sometimes seen as the lowest of the low of coffee makers…
And I have no idea why.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the control you get over manual coffee methods, and the final result can be better.
But if I have people over to visit, the drip coffee maker gets turned on. If I’m tired in the morning and can’t face making cappuccinos for my wife and me, I head straight to the drip maker.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t make an effort to have as good a coffee as you possibly can, no matter how good your drip machine is.
With that said let’s dive into some tips.
1. Use Different Filters For Different Coffee
I once wrote an article on the different sizes of coffee filters, and in doing so, I bought all the different sizes and types of paper filters you can buy. And you would be surprised how much the filter changes the taste of the coffee.
I’m normally a reusable filter guy for environmental reasons, but I’m so glad to have other filters in.
My own brand #4 filters are thick as anything and perfect for dampening down the overpowering flavors of an aggressive dark roast.
But then the Melitta Intense is the perfect punch that a lighter flavored coffee needs to lift it into the taste sensation you want first thing in the morning.
But get it wrong and you’ve got an undrinkable intense coffee or a flat flavorless brew.
Regardless it’s a fun experiment to get a few different brands and types of filters and try them out till you find the one that perfectly compliments your coffee.
2. Use Bottled Water
Here’s a question…
Would you drink the water straight out of your tap?
If you said no, are you putting it in the coffee maker?
Because if the coffee isn’t good to drink straight from the tap, then it isn’t going to taste good brewing your coffee.
Instead, either get a water filter jug or use bottled water, and the nicer the water, the better, so why not try out some bottled mineral water and see what that does to your brew.
3. Keep It Fresh
Freshly roasted beans, ground fresh and brewed fresh, fresh fresh fresh, you should actually grind after you brew for even fresher freshness!
OK, I’m getting a bit silly on purpose.
Because people are obsessed with using beans ground immediately before you use them, while this will make the best coffee, if you’re coming in from using grocery store pre-ground coffee, then relatively freshly ground coffee will be a huge difference.
And if you go to a local roaster, they will have an incredibly expensive grinder there that can grind you freshly roasted coffee, and it will still taste great for a week, maybe even 2!
Good coffee in gives you a much higher chance of good coffee out.
And if you want to grind your own coffee then you’ll want a burr grinder, but to save a little money you could get yourself a manual grinder.
4. Be Consistent And Adjust From There
You don’t want to just be picking up the bag of coffee and randomly pouring out some coffee grounds into your filter, then adding in a haphazard amount of water to go with it.
No, you want to be a little more scientific with it, use a consistent amount of water and a consistent amount of coffee grounds. And I can’t give a precise recommendation without knowing your machine but something to the tune of 2 tablespoons per cup of coffee is usually about right.
Regardless, use a spoon for your coffee and follow the markings on the jug of the coffee pot and make a note in your head of how much of each you used.
Only then can you start tweaking with an extra spoonful of coffee here, a little less water there, and tasting it each time until, like goldilocks, you put the cup to lip and your eyes roll back with pleasure from that sweet delicious cup of coffee.
5. If You’re Feeling Fancy, Use A Scale
The next step is to get a scale and start measuring your coffee and water for even more consistency.
If you’re new to the world of great home coffee, I’m sure you’ll scoff and declare, “I’ll never be that pretentious!” Just like I did and fast forward to years, and I’m running my own coffee blog telling people to get a little pretentious, it’s worth it.
But of course, it is by no means necessary, and just if you’re feeling fancy, it can be quite fun to do that and then start working out the brew ratio.
Brew ratio you ask?
It’s the ratio of water to coffee, usually around 1 gram of coffee grounds to 15 grams of water, or 1:15 ratio, that you then use to work out how much coffee and water you need.
But let’s not dive into that rabbit hole here.
6. Clean Your Drip Machine, Thoroughly
The most common problem I find people have with their drip machines is that they brew too slowly.
And this is almost always caused by either a build-up of old coffee grounds and coffee oils that clog it up, or they live somewhere with hard water, and the limescale build-up is causing problems.
Either way spells bad news for your coffee maker, and it’s the ability both to get to the correct temperature or brew the coffee correctly.
But the fix is easy, fill up the water tank with white vinegar and run it through a regular cycle.
Then run it through 2-5 times with water until the water doesn’t taste of vinegar anymore.
Alternatively, if you know it’s a hard water problem, and it’s gotten worse, it might be worth using a specific descaler that then needs to be thoroughly rinsed through. A more effective solution, but I understand if you don’t want chemicals anywhere near your coffee making.
7. Avoid Small Pots Of Coffee
This was a problem I had with my first coffee maker. It had the 1-4 cup setting that allows you to brew small pots of coffee, but when I measured out for 2 mugs of coffee and used that setting, it would always come out super over-extracted and bitter.
So I tried using less coffee which got rid of some bitterness, but I was using 1 tablespoon of coffee for 2 mugs, so it tasted as weak as anything.
But if I made enough coffee for 3 mugs and didn’t use the 1-4 settings. Perfect, delicious, completely back to normal, and a great-tasting coffee.
Now I either have a second cup myself or make a fuller pot and put the leftovers into a thermos so I can enjoy it across the day.
If you’re having trouble making coffee for just yourself, I highly recommend trying out a fuller pot and seeing if that makes a difference.