Coffee is one of those drinks that you don’t buy in the store, prepackaged and imported from a foreign country. No, if you wanted fresh coffee, you either need to go to a coffee house, a diner, or you need to make it at home yourself. I’m not talking about those small iced coffee bottles that you can find in a vending machine. I’m talking about fresh, hot, authentic coffee that you can only get straight from the source.
With all the hullabaloo from Keurig, French Press coffee makers, and even the traditional automatic drip coffee makers, you may think making coffee is easy. You’d be right – if you knew how. You see, coffee making is not something that is innate. It is an art that is taught.
Do you know how to make a pot of coffee? Believe it or not, there are more people who don’t know how to make coffee than there are people who do. I remember bringing my coffee maker to a small public gathering, and somebody decided to make coffee without using a paper filter. It is an automatic drip coffee maker that I care a great deal about. Needless to say, for the rest of the function, I was the only one that was allowed to touch my coffee maker.
If you don’t know what a paper filter is or how to use one, that’s okay – you’re in luck. I put together this article so that you can come out of the dark abyss of ignorance and learn how to make coffee the right way. It’s much easier than one might think. Who knows? It may not be long before you’re a barista* yourself!
I plan on explaining the automatic drip coffeemaker method because that is the most popular and widely used coffee maker to date. Once you learn and understand how to use automatic drip coffeemaker, just about every other machine that makes coffee will make sense. You’ll be making fresh coffee before you know it. Let’s get started.
Part One – Gather Your Materials
There are very few materials you need to make fresh coffee. However, you will need everything on this list. If you forget one item, you will not end up with coffee.
A Traditional Automatic Drip Coffeemaker.
Brand, size, or capacity does not matter. Make sure you are near an outlet in the kitchen as you will need to plug this machine into the wall for it to work.
A quality cup of coffee begins with quality water – each and every time. While you are free to use tap water, I personally recommend distilled water. Your coffee machine will last longer, and you won’t need a water filter. If your coffee maker does not come with a water filter, then I recommend your favorite bottled water at a minimum. If it does, then tap water might do the trick.
For this ingredient, your standard, store brand of coffee will do perfectly. If you like deep, robust coffee, purchase a darker roast. Most standard coffee that you see lining store shelves contains coffee beans that have been medium-roasted.
***Side note-make sure you do not get whole beans as these will need to be ground first. If you do not have a grinder, you will not be able to make coffee with whole beans. Also, do not get instant coffee. Instant coffee is designed to be dissolved directly in water, and will not work with traditional drip coffee makers. You must get standard, ground coffee for this to work.
Most traditional automatic drip coffee makers use basket style filters. There are several different types and sizes of paper filters, and you need to get the one that matches your particular machine. They are relatively cheap, often in the range of two to three dollars for a pack of 200 filters.
You need about two tablespoons of coffee for every 4 cups of coffee you intend to make. Most scoops that are commercially labeled as coffee scoops have a two tablespoon capacity. If you have a 1/8 measuring cup, that will work too, as it is the same size.
A mug is not necessarily needed to make the coffee per se, but if you don’t have one, how do you plan on enjoying your first cup you made yourself?
***A side note on safety – make sure your coffee mug has a handle or is double-walled and vacuum sealed. Otherwise, the outside of your cup will get very hot, creating a burn hazard. Your cheap plastic tumbler will not do the trick, nor will cups made out of glass that do not have handles (even the nice ones).***
Gather these ingredients and meet me in the kitchen.
Part Two – Making Your Coffee
This process may seem long and tedious, but in practice, you can do this in less than a minute. Let’s get started.
1) Prepare your coffee maker.
Find the reservoir in your coffee maker where place the coffee. This is often called the coffee chamber. It should fit your paper filter perfectly. Some coffee makers swing out to reveal the coffee chamber while others have a lid, and you lift up. Either way, open the coffee chamber.
2) Insert a paper filter.
Skip this step, and you will have coffee grinds in your coffee. If you’ve had that before, then you know how gritty your coffee can taste. It’s not pleasant. Coffee beans do not dissolve in water. Coffee grinds in your water – particularly large ones – can scratch and tickle your throat on the way down. You must insert a paper filter before adding any coffee.
3) Measure and add your coffee.
For every 4 cups of coffee that you plan on making, add one scoop (measuring two tablespoons) directly into the paper filter. Don’t worry about making it even pile inside the filter. After you turn the coffee maker on, the water will disperse evenly over the coffee. After you’ve added the filter in the coffee, close the coffee chamber on your coffee maker.
4) Add fresh, clean water.
The easiest way to do this is to use your carafe (the coffee pot that comes with the maker) as the measuring device. Let’s say you are making a full pot of coffee with a 10-cup coffee maker. You will want to fill the carafe of to the 10-cup line and pour this into the water reservoir the coffee maker. Likewise, for 10 cups of coffee, you will have needed to add three scoops of coffee to the filter in step three. Return the carafe to its designated spot on the coffee maker.
5) Brew your coffee.
Find the brew button on your coffee maker and press it. At this point, you should have found the coffee chamber, added a filter, added coffee on top of and inside the filter, and added the appropriate amount of water to the water reservoir. Most of your work is done. Wait patiently – anywhere between three and seven minutes – for the coffee to finish brewing. Your coffee will be done when the pot is full, and the coffee maker stops dripping coffee into the carafe. Depending on your model, your coffee maker may sound off an audible beep indicating its completion.
6) Enjoy your coffee.
When the coffee has finished brewing, remove the carafe from the coffee maker and slowly, yet carefully pour some coffee into your coffee mug. At this point, you may add sugar, creamer, or any other flavoring additives the most people add to their coffee. Coffee is naturally better when it is black, but that’s okay because some people like it that way.
Coffee is relatively straightforward and easy to make. It is also one of the most popular and famous beverages on the planet. It anywhere you look – coffeehouses, diners, and even gas stations will often be brewing coffee all day long.
After you brew your coffee, make sure you turn your coffee maker off. Unless your coffee maker has an auto off feature, you will end up with burnt coffee within 30 to 45 minutes. Burnt coffee is bitter and sour, and you do not want to be drinking that. It might be advisable only to make enough coffee to satisfy your cravings at the moment. If you want more later, simply follow the directions and make more. Fresh coffee is good coffee, says I.