The Caffeinated Chemist

How to Use Automatic (Drip) Coffee Makers

How to make coffee from a coffee pot


The automatic coffee maker allows for a quick, efficient brew that has been a staple for many homes and offices. Many benefits of using an automatic coffee pot include keeping your coffee warm for hours, having a consistent brew with just the click of a button, and even some allow you to set what time you want the coffee to brew (i.e., can wake up to a freshly brewed cup every morning!)

However, this fast efficient method of brewing comes with its own set of flaws… As coffee enthusiasts, we want to be in control of as many possible variables that could affect the taste or quality of our coffee. Next to such single-serve pod based devices (such as the Keurig®), the automatic method is one of the most self-limiting ways to make coffee. In many coffee pots, we can’t change water temperature, brew-time, blooming, and other minor variables that can greatly change the taste of your cup.

Coffee Pot Steps

How to Improve the Quality of You Cup:

Only you will be able to decide if this ease of use is worth sacrificing a few of these variables. Either way, it is vital that we optimize what control we do have such as quality of water, coffee grounds and size, and water-to-coffee ratio (extremely important.)

For quality of water: Try to use only filtered water when making coffee. Tap water can make for an imbalanced cup of coffee by making it taste slightly more acidic. Additionally, how hard the water is can greatly affect the overall balance of the cup. Hard water contains greater concentrations of minerals such as calcium and magnesium; these minerals can interact with coffee beans and make for a more acidic tasting coffee. Aiming for purified, softer water will be a healthier choice and make your morning cup taste much better.

Your choice of coffee will probably have the greatest impact on the final taste of your cup. For more information on how to choose the right flavor, future posts will be uploaded soon. But for now, if you’re uncertain, try aiming for a medium roast blend. I do recommend buying whole coffee beans and grinding them to a medium ground, if possible.

As you will see many times on this website, we typically recommend the standard 2 Tablespoons per 6-8 oz. cup of water. For instance I will typically add the following:

  •           Add 7-8 Tablespoons coffee for 4 cups (32 oz, ~950 mL) of coffee
  •           Add 20-24 Tablespoons coffee for 12 cups (~96 oz, ~2850 mL) of coffee

If you are the type who prefers a strong brew aim for AT LEAST 2 tablespoons per cup. However, if you do not like super-strong coffee, you may want to start with 1 tablespoon per cup and adjust as needed. This is a chance for you to release your inner-scientist and experiment with the best ratios for your perfect cup!

How to Brew Automatic (Drip) Coffee:


Below is a simple 3-step method that will have you on your way to sipping a great cup in minutes:

• IMPORTANT Make sure to follow and adjust for any specified guidelines from YOUR coffee makers guidelines.

  1. Place a filter in the brew basket and pour the measured amount of coffee grounds in (~2 Tablespoons per cup water). You want to make sure the grounds are somewhat leveled so that you don’t end up with an uneven brew.
  2. Add the measured amount of filtered water to the reservoir. (Note: this is NOT where you added your coffee grounds. It is slightly behind the brew basket.)
  3. Press start. If your specific coffee maker has the option to set a timer for when to start brewing this can be an excellent option to wake up to a freshly brewed cup.

It’s as easy as that! Whether you are new to coffee or a college student who has never actually learned how to use an automatic coffee machine, you are now able to brew a great cup in minutes. Now enjoy your perfect cup of coffee.



A note on cleaning: Make sure to clean out the coffee maker before first using it. Ideally you should clean it before every use, or at least on a weekly basis. To clean the coffee maker, add a 50:50 ratio of water to vinegar to the reservoir and run as normal. Then make sure to run 1-2 rounds of (only) water to remove any vinegar taste and wash the pot. Simple as that.