Coffee Maker
The Best Coffee at Home:
Using a Coffee Brewer

The auto-drip coffee maker is ridiculed by coffee snobs (and for good reason - there are plenty of other methods that make consistently good coffee), but the auto-drip's no hassle, automatic brewing still makes it the go-to choice for a lot of homes and offices looking for a quick caffeine fix.

While you may not be able to get the "perfect" brew from an auto-drip, you can make it a whole lot better with a little know-how.

An auto-drip coffee maker is handy because you can set it and forget it, but the fact you can't control the temperature or the water ratio as it pours over the beans means you can't customize the brew as much to fit your liking. The key to good auto-drip is to do skip any silly tricks and keep it as basic as possible, starting with the right coffee beans and roast.

Start the Process Right: Whole Beans, a Good Grind, Filtered Water, and the Right Temperature

Since you can't control a lot of the variables that make a cup of coffee good with an auto-drip it's important that you start the process right. This means fresh-roasted whole beans, getting a good grind, fresh water, and trying to get the temperature as close to right as possible.

  1. Pick and Store Your Beans
    Since a drip coffee maker already handicaps the flavor a little it's really important to get fresh beans. You are fortunate enough to have Carolina Moon in your neighborhood because their beans are always FRESH - unlike many grocery stores.
    Coffee goes stale quickly and the process goes even faster when the beans are already ground, so stick with whole beans. Carolina Moon will be happy to ground fresh beans for you!

    Carolina Moon's "Chimney Rock" Blend is a good medium roast that won't lose too much flavor when brewing.

  2. Get the Grind Right to Speed Up Brewing Time

    Coffee gets its flavor and aroma during a process called extraction when the hot water passes through the ground up beans. If this happens too quickly, the coffee will be weak; if it happens too slowly, it will be bitter. The speed of this is decided by how fine the grind of the coffee is.

    For most auto drip coffee makers you want a fine or medium grind depending on the type of filter your coffee maker uses. Here's an estimation of how fine to grind it:

    Flat Bottom Filters: Medium (close to the texture of sand).

    Cone Shaped Filters: Medium/Fine (A little finer than granulated sugar).

    Gold/Plastic Permanent Filters: Medium.

    It might take a little experimenting to get the right grind. If your coffee is too bitter, try a coarser grind. If it's lacking flavor, try a finer grind.

    Most auto-drip coffee makers are also programmable, but resist the urge to grind your coffee the night before and set it to automatically wake you up in the morning. It's best to start the coffee brewing immediately after grinding the beans to capture all the flavor.

  3. Use Filtered Water with the Right Ratio

    Since a cup of coffee is mostly water, the quality of that water is important. Carolina Moon uses a 4-step filtering process on our water. If you live in an area where tap water isn't very good then use filtered water for your coffee. You might think the taste of coffee can overwhelm the taste of bad water, but it doesn't.

    Additionally you need to play around and get your water to coffee ratio right. In general, you want about 1 or 2 tablespoons of ground coffee per six ounces of water. Your preferences may vary, so feel free to try different amounts. Once you get a good ratio, stick with it. When you're doing so, run a few tests on the "cup lines" on your brewer to see how they actually stack up. Different brewers gauge the cups differently and it might not be six ounces.

  4. Perform a Trial-Run to Get Your Coffee Maker's Temperature Up

    If you're working with an especially junky drip coffee maker like the ones you find in hotel rooms then you're probably not brewing a cup of coffee anywhere near the temperature you should be. The National Coffee Association recommends that coffee should be brewed between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. Most cheaper drip coffee makers can't get up to this temperature quickly enough and they end up producing a bitter cup of coffee.