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Coffee 101: How to Use an Auto Drip Coffee Maker

Oct 8, 2019 | Coffee, Coffee & Tea 101

Auto Drip Coffee Maker

Every day, auto drip coffee makers are sold by the scores for their pre-programmable, time-telling convenience, but are largely derided by those who take their coffee seriously.

It’s true – there are bigger, better, faster, more furious methods of making coffee available. We’ve profiled many of them in this space. And a good argument can be made that the lion’s share delivers a richer, more satisfying cup of java than the countertop auto drip that occupies countless shadowy kitchen corners and appliance graveyards throughout the country.


Making a satisfactory cup of coffee using an auto drip coffee maker isn’t a fool’s errand. In fact, it is more than possible when you stick to the basics: water, roast, grind, and temperature.

A fresh roast is, by far, the most important factor. Choose whole beans to ensure freshness, and when possible buy from a local roaster instead of the corner grocery store.

The speed at which hot water passes through your ground coffee, drawing out flavor and aromas, is known as “extraction.” Too fast, and your coffee will be weak. Too slow, and you’ll have a bitter brew on your hand. To exert some control over this variable, it is critical to achieve a proper grind.

For flat bottom filters, or plastic, permanent filters, you will want to aim for a medium grind, or a consistency that resembles sand.

For cone filters, a fine-to-medium grind is ideal, which is similar to granulated sugar, if not slightly finer.

While ratios are not quite as essential when using an auto drip coffee maker, you don’t want to skimp or, conversely, load the filter to the brim.

As a rule of thumb, aim for 1-2 tablespoons per 6 oz. of water.

Keep in mind: Your auto drip can be pre-programmed, but for best results you should steer clear of this function, and only add your ground coffee to your filter immediately before you are ready to brew.


Thinking that good coffee can overcompensate for your lackluster tap water is kind of like believing making a sandwich with moldy bread doesn’t matter as long as you purchased organic peanut butter.

In other words, use cold, filtered water, whenever possible.


Using an auto drip coffee maker, you’re automatically at a disadvantage as far as temperature goes.

One possible life hack: heat a carafe full of water in your auto drip, sans coffee. Then use that heated water to brew your coffee. This can be tricky, as some auto drip makers will heat the water past the ideal 195 degrees. Keep a thermometer handy and do some trial runs.

Don’t forget! Remove your carafe from the heating element when your coffee is finished brewing. Leaving coffee on the burner almost guarantees a bitter brew.

Brewing coffee with an auto drip may not be the fanciest method of making coffee, or the most cutting edge, or the best way to make inroads with the “in crowd.” But if all you’re looking for is a decent cup of java to kick start your day, grab a filter and get brewing!

Now you know how to brew coffee in an Auto Drip Coffee Maker. For additional coffee brewing tips, tricks, and methods click here.