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How to Make a Superior Cup of Drip Coffee in 6 Easy Steps

Updated on January 31, 2016
Andrea C Neil profile image

Andrea is a self-professed Coffee Aficionado who enjoys preparing, drinking, and talking about her favorite beverage. Because coffee!

It’s easy to cut corners in your morning routine, in the hopes of staying in bed for just a few minutes longer without being late for work… but one area you shouldn’t skimp is your morning coffee. Many people like the speed and convenience of a Keurig or other automatic coffee maker, but in many ways you’re sacrificing quality for speed if you go this route.

Taking a few minutes to prepare your morning coffee “by hand” will greatly enhance your morning routine – by allowing you to enjoy a much better cup of coffee!

The process is quite simple – below is an outline of the steps in preparing the perfect cup of drip, or pour-over, coffee every morning.

1.Buy the right supplies

Have you ever heard the term GIGO? “Garbage In, Garbage Out” definitely applies to coffee. If you want a great tasting cup of joe, you need to have the right equipment and good quality beans. Fortunately, it’s not too hard to put a beginning starter kit together. Here’s what you’ll need:

Burr Grinder: Do not use a blade grinder – this results in coffee particles that aren’t even in size, and have been heated by the high speed of the spinning blades. Blech! Instead, look for a “burr grinder” that has ceramic burrs, and an “infinite” range of settings (meaning you can adjust the fineness/coarseness of the grind anywhere you want within the available range. Capresso makes good, entry-level burr grinders.

Dripper / filters: There are many types of drippers you can use, and they all work a little differently. The founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, James Freeman, swears by the Bonmac ceramic dripper. I prefer the Hario V60. Both of these work similarly, regulating the rate at which the liquid flows through the dripper’s opening, thereby determining how long the coffee grounds stay in contact with the hot water. This will affect the flavor. When first starting out, just pick something and go with it! You can always change it up later when you’re more familiar with the process. Whatever you choose to get, just make sure you purchase the correct filters to go with your dripper – they all fit a little differently.

Scale: A food scale will work here. Hario makes a scale specifically to use for making coffee, and is a good entry-level choice at about $40. It measures to a hundredth of a gram, and has a timer, so you can time the entire coffee-making process (this can be important – for example, if your coffee takes too long to drip through, you are grinding the beans too finely and will want to adjust). We’ve also used a cheap, regular kitchen scale. But the Hario is nice if you want to feel like a real Coffee Pro.

Water kettle: A stainless-steel goose-neck water kettle is a requirement. The thin neck of this type of kettle will allow more precision when pouring water onto your coffee grounds. A slow, steady rate of application is what’s needed. Bona Vita makes a nice kettle – they even have electric ones if you aren’t patient enough to heat your water on the stove.

“Coffee Pot”: You need something to make your coffee in! Try a Hario glass “range server” – they come in different sizes, depending on how much coffee you want to make. We use a 600ml server – we only make 2 cups of coffee at a time.

And finally…

COFFEE BEANS! Definitely don’t skimp on the beans! I’d recommend finding a local roaster to purchase from. You’ll be supporting a local business, and getting very fresh coffee beans. If you look closely at the national-chain beans you find on the shelf at the grocery store, either they don’t even have a roast date on them, or the roast date is over a month old. As a general rule, fresher is better – and you can accomplish this by buying local. So go out and do some exploring and find your local roaster!

Something fun to try - when you travel, pick up coffee from local roasters! We save the bags as mementos.
Something fun to try - when you travel, pick up coffee from local roasters! We save the bags as mementos. | Source

2. Measure and grind the beans

It’s very important to measure both the beans and the amount of water used when making drip coffee. You want to always use a consistent ratio of coffee to water. We use a ratio of 1:14, or one gram of coffee for every 14 grams of water. You can start here and play around with it to suit your taste – but stay consistent. We use 25 grams of coffee and 350 grams of water.

As for the beans - how do you determine the proper coarseness of the grind? Well – you have to just start somewhere! According to the Blue Bottle web site, for drip coffee, the appearance of your ground beans should resemble sea salt. Start here – you can adjust to your own preferences as you go along.

So – determine how much coffee you want to end up with, then work your way backwards to how many grams of beans to grind. Measure the beans, grind them, and collect the grounds in a small dish or bowl.

3. Heat the water

Heat enough water to make your coffee, plus some extra for heating the glass server and maybe even your coffee cup. Bring the water to a boil. Each time you get ready to pour water for your coffee, make sure it’s come off the boil, however. Boiling water is too hot. If you’re super OCD, you can measure the temperature of your water. About 200 degrees farenheit is ideal.

4. Set up your setup

Place the dripper with its filter on top of the glass server. Pour hot water into the filter, getting the whole thing wet, then let the water drain out and empty the server. You have now rinsed the filter, and heated the dripper and the server. Bam.

Place your contraption on your scale, then add the coffee grounds. Make sure the surface of the grounds is even, and don’t get too many on the sides of the filter. Tare the scale to zero. You’re almost there.

5. Bloom your grounds

After bringing the water to a boil and letting it cool just a bit, pour just enough water on the grounds to get them all wet. Wait about 30 – 45 seconds before continuing.

6. Pour, pour, pour

Reheat / cool your water again, then pour a slow, even stream of hot water over the grounds, in a clockwise rotation. Pour slowly enough that you never have to stop pouring, yet the water stays about an inch from the top of the dripper. Pour until you hit your desired weight on the scale (by taring after you got the dripper wet and adding your dry coffee, you are measuring just the water).

Remove the dripper from the server just before it stops dripping completely.

Pour this magical liquid into your cup – and enjoy.

Keep in mind, this is just a place to start! You can take all of this much, much further, if you find you enjoy the process. And of course if you try it and you don’t like it, you can always go back to your Keuring. Just let me know if you’re going to be selling your cool new burr grinder anytime soon, OK?

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