How to Brew a Great Pot of Coffee in a Drip Brewer

I am often asked for advice on brewing coffee.  It’s one of those things that people often feel a bit sheepish about, yet take offense if a guest suggests that their brew isn’t up to snuff.  I’m working on some videos that will make brewing about as complicated as pouring a cup of coffee, but until then, here’s a helpful article from rom wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit.  It’s probably the most comprehensive article on brewing drip coffee I’ve seen….maybe too comprehensive!  However, I’ve edited a few things according to my own brewing philosophy and opinions.  Enjoy!

Technivorm Coffee Brewer

How to Make a Great Pot of Coffee

These are basic tips for how to make coffee using a standard drip coffee maker (aka coffee pot, Mr. Coffee etc.). Read the tips for ideas of how to make your coffee experience more enjoyable!


  1. Buy the beans of your choice at a coffee shop or grocery store. If possible, buy freshly roasted coffee from a local roaster like Blacksmith Coffee Roastery. The longer that coffee sits around after roasting, the more the flavor deteriorates, so try to find the freshest coffee available. Blacksmith Coffee Roastery packages it’s coffees within four hours after roasting in foil bags with one-way degassing valves for the ultimate freshness! If you don’t plan to use all your coffee within 2 weeks, freeze the excess to thaw when needed.

  2. It is best to grind your beans immediately before you brew in your home grinder. However, if you don’t have a grinder at home, ask your roaster to grind them for you according to your favorite brewing method. If you have your roaster grind your beans for you when you purchase them, make sure to use them as soon as possible. Be sure to grind your beans to a medium grind for the best taste in an automatic drip coffee maker: the ground coffee should not look like coffee colored baby powder, but rather like poppy seeds. High-speed electric burr grinders can heat up the beans, cooking them while grinding. Using a blade grinder can make a lot of very fine powder in even a coarse grind that can clog the filter and cause grounds to overflow into the pot.

  3. Put a coffee filter in the filter basket. It does not matter if the filter is bleached or natural. Try to go with a better filter as cheap generic filters are more likely to clog. You may also prefer to purchase a gold mesh filter for your brewer instead of using reusable filters.

  4. Measure out the coffee grounds. The standard is 2 Tbsp. for every six ounce cup of coffee or 1 1/4 cup of ground coffee for each 10 cup pot, but you should adjust it to your own personal tastes. Experiment until you are satisfied. Do not use too little coffee as over-extraction of the grounds can result in bitter coffee. It’s a lot easier to water down too-strong coffee than to try to make weak coffee taste strong.

  5. If you find that coffee often tastes bitter to you, you may want to add a very small amount of salt to the grounds – a few grains per cup. This will help avoid bitterness in the coffee but too much will make the coffee taste salty.

  6. Measure cold, clean water, according to the amount of coffee grounds you used, using the lines on the coffee pot. It is very important that the water is cold and clean. If water has a disagreeable odor or is particularly hard, remember that whatever you put in the coffee machine will end up in the pot. Clean water is the most important ingredient in a perfect cup of coffee. It is best to use filtered or bottled water.

  7. Pour cold water into the water basin in the coffee pot.

  8. Put the coffee pot back on the warming plate. Make sure the coffee pot is plugged in. (This is very important!)

  9. Wait for the coffee to be fully brewed. If you “sneak a cup” early it will not only be fairly strong, but it will increase the bitterness of the rest of the pot due to bitter flavors released later during the brewing process.

  10. Pour yourself a cup of coffee, add sweetener and creamer if you prefer, and enjoy!


  • Consult the manual that came with your coffee pot. Also, always keep your coffee maker clean. Wash the carafe after each use and use commercially available coffee maker cleaners or a solution of water and vinegar on a regular basis.
  • If you like the taste of strong coffee but can’t handle the caffeine, mix it up with some decaf (must be the same bean type as the regular stuff, otherwise it’ll taste different).
  • If you have a coffee maker that’s known to make burnt-tasting coffee because the water is too hot for infusion, wet the coffee grounds first with 1/4 cup of the cold water. This temporarily prevents the grounds from exposure to too hot temperatures.
  • Learn how to use the timer on your coffee pot and have fresh coffee waiting for you when you wake up in the morning, however, be aware that the coffee may lose its flavor as it sits overnight.
  • Make sure to close the bag of coffee grounds tightly after you measure out your grounds otherwise your coffee will go stale.
  • When pouring water into the coffee maker, consider using filtered water. The majority of coffee is water so try to use the best water you can get. Chlorinated water or hard water can and will affect the taste of your coffee and shorten the life of your coffee maker. Buildup of hard water deposits in a coffee maker reduces the temperature of the machine, detracting from the flavor. Some people prefer using distilled or deionized water, which contains no minerals at all.
  • Cheaper coffee brands often mix types of beans which usually does not yield consistent taste. True coffee lovers often prefer Arabica beans so try to purchase a brand that only uses those, like Blacksmith Coffee Roastery.
  • How the beans were roasted is very important. French roast is pretty strong, Italian roast even stronger. As a rule of thumb, the darker the roast the stronger the coffee. However, the amount of coffee used during brewing has a significant impact on how strong the coffee tastes as well.
  • Equally important as the quality of the coffee is the quality of the water. Install an undersink water filter in your kitchen. You can get one for about $50 and it takes only 30-45 minutes to install.
  • Experiment! Try your coffee with some half-and-half, flavored creamer, fat-free creamer, and different sweeteners. Many coffee drinkers enjoy adding sweetened condensed milk. Coffee should be your personal thing and it’s a good idea to learn how YOU like yours.
  • Starbucks coffee is a tad more bitter than many other coffees due to their roasting method and the type of beans they use. So, if you or somebody you know only tried Starbucks coffee so far and didn’t like it consider trying another brand. One bad coffee experience should not spoil your opinion about coffee forever.
  • If your coffee often ends up being more bitter than desired, sprinkle 2-3 pinches of salt on top of the grounds. This practice helps remove the bitterness created during the brewing process (especially if the coffee you use is of a lower quality). A few broken egg shells also smooths the flavor. This is actually a practice used in the US Navy (trivia tip).
  • Finely ground cinnamon sprinkled on the grounds prior to brewing can also reduce bitterness of strongly brewed coffee. Be careful though: in drip coffee makers, more than one tablespoon of the finely ground spice could cause the machine to back-up and overflow the coffee maker’s hopper.
  • Many electric coffee pots do not heat coffee to an adequate and consistent temperature. Make sure to do some research before buying a coffee maker. Do not assume that the most expensive coffee maker at the store is the best. Additionally, you can use a Chemex manual drip pot and heat the water yourself.
  • The three most important factors in a cup of coffee are: Grind (how fine or course you grind the beans) Proportion (The proper proportion of coffee to water is 1 tablespoon to every 6 oz. of water) Water(coffee is made up of mostly water so you can’t make good coffee from bad water).


  • If you have a full pot that will take a little while to drink, remove the used filter and discard. This will help the coffee to continue to taste fresh until the pot has been drunk.
  • Do not use hot water in the coffee maker as cold water is fresher than hot water. Hot water is hotter than cold water, so more minerals and ionized metals will mix with the water in the pipes, which could lead to health problems in the long run.
  • Be careful not to grind the beans too fine or it will clog the filter and back up the coffee machine.
  • Do not let the brewed coffee sit for too long. Coffee becomes increasingly bitter the longer you let it sit. Half an hour is pretty much the longest you should let it go without drinking it. Additionally, coffee maintains freshness better in an insulated carafe than a glass carafe on a warming plate.
  • Always remember to turn off the coffee pot when you are done drinking. While rare, electrical fires can happen, particularly if your coffee maker doesn’t have an automatic shut-off feature.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make a Good Pot of Coffee. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

  • Battery Operated Fan says...

    Nice post you have here. I’m new to your blog but it seemed that you have a lot of interesting content over here. Will drop by more often in the future. Cheers and good day to you!

    On Apr 30, 2010

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