Before we begin, I should point out that there many, many ways to brew coffee. The method that is being taught here is intended to address the most common method of brewing coffee. If you prefer a different method, please feel encouraged to go off-script.
Drip coffee makers are the entry-level method for making coffee. You can buy a coffee maker, filters, and ground coffee off the shelf and with very little effort or skill, brew yourself a pot. Most can be programmed to run at a particular time so that you can have a nice hot cup waiting for you when you wake up. The quality and flavor of a cup of drip coffee depends primarily on the beans which reduces the need for skill and technique.
The steps involved with brewing coffee in a drip coffee maker are pretty straight forward. The exact design of the machines is different, but the features are still the same. Each one has a reservoir, a filter holder, and a pot or carafe. The specific order of the steps isn’t so important as long as they’re all done before you start brewing.
Fill the pot with water so that it’s about as full as you want it to be with coffee. Then pour this water into the reservoir. After you empty the pot into the reservoir, place it back under the filter.
Add the Filter
Place the opened filter in the filter holder so that it lines the inside. You don’t need to tap or press it down, just let it rest inside the filter holder.
Add the Ground Coffee
This is the time to experiment. The amount of grounds you’re supposed to add is up to you. Add too little, and you’ll end up with bad-tasting brown water. Add too much and the filter will overflow and you’ll end up with grounds in your pot and on your counter top.
The filter should end up being about ⅓ - ½ full of grounds. Play around with the amount of grounds you use until you find what you consider to be the sweet spot. Trial and error is a great way to find out whether you like a strong or light tasting cup of coffee.
Start the Brewing
When you start the brewing cycle, the water in the reservoir gets heated up so that it boils. It then travels up into a tube that ends over the filter. The boiling water lands in the filter full of ground coffee and mixes with it to create the liquid coffee. The mixture then flows down through the filter and drips into the pot where it gets collected for you to drink.
Some filter holders have a plunger valve on the bottom of them that blocks the flow of coffee unless there is a pot below to catch it. I’ve found these to be somewhat unreliable as they rarely form a good seal. If the coffee is still brewing when you remove the pot, you run the risk of having your brew land on the hot-plate that your pot sits on.
As mentioned in the introduction, there are many, many other methods for brewing coffee. Some are much simpler, some are much more complicated. Some other methods that you can research include: