A convenient cup of coffee for hurried mornings or sudden caffeine cravings, drip coffee is your go-to beverage. While it’s probably not as easy to make as instant coffee, it definitely is a more flavorful brew.
If you’re wondering what is drip coffee and how you can brew the perfect cup, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to know all there is about drip coffee and its making.
What is Drip Coffee?
A drip coffee brew is a coffee brewing technique in which hot water is poured over roasted, ground coffee beans placed in a filter. The hot water seeps through the grounds and extracts the compounds that lend flavor to the coffee.
The pour-over method or a drip coffee machine are typical ways to make drip coffee.
The average caffeine content in an 8 oz cup of drip coffee is about 115 – 175 mg. This does vary based on the brew strength and variety of coffee beans used. Arabica beans have 1.2% caffeine, while Robusta has twice the amount of caffeine, about 2.2%.
Fun Fact: The Devil Mountain Black Label is the strongest coffee available. An 8 oz serving of drip coffee made from these beans will contain a whopping 1037 mg of caffeine.
A serving of black drip coffee without sugar, cream, or other additives contains 2 calories per 8 oz.
Factors That Affect Drip Coffee Flavor
The right balance of several factors results in the perfect cup of coffee. While it comes down to your personal preference, brewing process, and variations in measurements to suit your caffeine desires, here are some things you can keep in mind.
From the size of the ground beans to the grinding technique and amount of grounds, making drip coffee has specific needs.
Using a medium grind is suitable for drip coffee. However, if the beans are ground too coarse, the water will seep through faster, resulting in under-extraction. This makes a flat coffee with less caffeine and an unsatisfactory aroma and body.
Instead, if you use a very fine grind, like for espresso machines, the steeping time is prolonged as the water passes slowly through the compact coffee; this makes the coffee taste bitter, especially if very hot water is used.
The Coffee Grinder
It’s ideal to grind the beans just before brewing coffee to retain maximum aroma and flavor in your brew. The coffee grounds begin to lose their aromatic oils after about 30 minutes of air exposure.
Burr grinders are the best option for a uniform grind, while blade grinders will give you an uneven grind which won’t make very good drip coffee.
If you don’t have a coffee grinder and want to save time, you could get pre-ground coffee sold in vacuum-sealed bags from the market. After every use, ensure you reseal the bag and store it in a cool, air-tight container.
True coffee lovers would refrain from using tap water to brew coffee, as too many minerals will reflect in your coffee. Similarly, distilled water with no minerals is a big NO since you’ll end up with a flat cup.
Bottled or spring water is a perfect choice as it has a good mineral balance. You could also use filtered water by picking a filter that removes chlorine and other strong taste or odor lending elements but doesn’t strip the water of minerals.
The Coffee Maker
While an automatic drip coffee maker will control most of the timing and measuring for the brew, you could also use a manual dripper. It’s essential that you carefully select your coffee-making equipment.
The higher-priced SCAA Certified coffee makers will last long and make a reliable brew with every use. However, if you wouldn’t want to spend that much money, there are budget drip coffee machines that aren’t certified but can brew a good cup.
It’s ideal to brew at least half a pot, if not a full pot of coffee. When you brew less, the water seeps through the ground coffee quickly, creating a weaker coffee.
The temperature of the water that comes in contact with the coffee grounds is essential in brewing coffee. Ideally, the temperature must be between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
You don’t have to worry about this if you use a good coffee machine to make your brew; it delivers the water at the right temperature.
The ideal brewing time for making drip coffee (pour-over or coffee machine) is about 5 minutes. A longer brew time will be needed if the water isn’t hot enough (between 195 – 205 degrees Fahrenheit).
A rule of thumb is lower water temperature needs a longer steeping time for a good brew. You can relate this to the making of a cold brew, where at least 14 – 18 hours of brewing is needed.
Coffee to Water Ratio
The recommended coffee to water ratio to make freshly brewed coffee is 2 tablespoons of grounds for every 6 oz of water. You could play around with this ratio to suit your preferences and use less or more grounds.
If you’re using a drip coffee machine, the more coffee you brew at a time, the fewer grounds you’ll need. Brewing less coffee doesn’t let the grounds completely absorb the water and makes a weak cup. A drip cone is a good choice if you want to make a single cup of coffee.
Drip Coffee Maker: Parts
A typical drip coffee maker has the following parts:
- A water reservoir
- A heating element that heats the water to the right temperature
- A tube to carry the water/steam to the showerhead outlet
- A receptacle that holds the coffee and filter
- A carafe that holds the dripping water
- A metal plate that the carafe sits on
- A heating element to keep the coffee warm
Making the Perfect Coffee
Now that you know what is drip coffee and the different factors affecting its flavor, here’s how you can brew the perfect pot of drip coffee:
- Fill the water reservoir to the required level.
- Place a paper filter into the coffee maker.
- Grind the beans just before the brewing process. If you’re using cone-shaped filters, adjust the grind for a coarser setting; grind the beans on an auto-drip or medium setting for flat-bottom filters.
- For every 6 oz of water, use 1 – 2 tablespoons of grounds (1 for a weaker coffee and 2 for a stronger coffee). Measure the grounds accordingly and add them to the filter. Typically, a cup of coffee has 8 oz of liquid; for brewing 4 cups, use 32 oz of water and about 5 – 5.5 tablespoons of coffee.
- Turn on the coffee machine. A heating element will heat the water and force it upwards. This water will flow out through a shower head and drip onto the filter with coffee grounds.
- The brewed coffee will flow out into the carafe. Once completely brewed, the coffee is ready to serve. Transfer any leftover brew into a thermal pot, carafe, or thermos to keep it warm.
Different Ways of Making Drip Coffee
Avid coffee drinkers needn’t go to a coffee shop when they desire a relaxing cup of rich brew. Instead, they can make fine coffee in the comfort of their home with one of these brewing methods.
The standard percolator coffee that made coffee bitter and taste terrible led the way to pour-over coffee. These days, there are coffee-making cones such as the Melitta cone and the V60.
This brewing technique unlocks the coffee beans’ flavors and makes a rich-tasting coffee. However, the critical element in this is the water temperature, which needs to be between 195 – 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything beyond this range starts burning the coffee and makes a bitter cup.
You’ll also have to be careful about the coffee grind setting and the steep time. It just takes a small mistake to make bad pour-over coffee.
Drip Coffee Makers
An innovation that made coffee brewing quite convenient, the auto drip coffee maker is a simple device that requires you to fill water, plug it in, and get your brew ready in about 5 minutes.
Recent models have timer features that prepare your brew for you before you’re awake in the mornings.
With routine care and maintenance, these coffee machines can make the best coffee with each brew. While limescale buildup on the machine’s heating element is a worry, regular descaling helps rid of it and possible bacteria in the water chamber.
Portable coffee bags are a good replacement for the automatic drip machine. These easy-to-use bags of coffee make a fine cup of coffee as good as pour-over coffee.
They make for absolutely convenient coffee making; just slip one over a coffee mug and have a single cup of coffee ready in a couple of minutes. It’s a good to have item when you’re traveling and staying at a hotel. You’ll need to ensure the water temperature isn’t too hot, though.
Tips for the Perfect Drip Coffee Brewing
To brew drip coffee the right way, here are some things you need to keep in mind.
The Right Filter
For drip brewing, the filter is an important aspect to determine the taste and the body.
Paper filters must be rinsed before adding the coffee grounds to clean off dust. Since these filters are dense, they retain more soluble coffee solids and give a clear cup. However, they also retain the coffee oils, thus flattening the coffee’s taste.
A good alternative is a mesh filter for which you’ll need to use coarser, uniformly ground coffee. The consistency and size of the grounds aren’t an issue with paper filters though.
Get Quality Coffee
Regardless of the brewing methods, it is essential to use good quality raw material. While this doesn’t mean you shell out money for ultra-premium products, you must use sufficiently well-recognized brands. You could also check out the local roaster for the most recent batch of roasted beans.
If you do get premium coffee, it would be best to grind your own beans just before you get your coffee brewed.
Use Fresh Ground Coffee
Good-quality beans must be used for a good hot drip coffee. For maximum flavor and aroma, grind your beans when you’re about to brew coffee.
The degradation of coffee beans begins as soon as they’re roasted; grinding the beans accelerates the process, with more surface area being exposed to air. This gets the oils to disperse easily.
Avoid Heating for Too Long
Drip coffee is brewed onto a carafe placed on a heating element that keeps the coffee at a near-boil constantly.
Coffee must always be served fresh, as soon as it is brewed. Once your brew is ready to use, you could also pour it into a thermos or a thermal carafe. The longer the coffee stays on the heat, the more rancid or burnt it gets.
Keep the Coffee Maker Clean
As important as keeping the glass carafe clean is cleaning your coffee maker itself. It helps rid calcium deposits, grime, debris, dust, and even icky brews. Your coffee maker could have nasty germs and bacteria in it.
Deep clean the coffee maker once a month by filling the reservoir with 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water, like you were brewing a pot. After it has brewed, repeat by running the mixture through a second time. Finally, finish it with a plain water rinse for a clean, ready-to-brew coffee maker.
We hope this read has answered the question ‘What is drip coffee’ and how to make it. Drip coffee is an easy-to-prepare brew that you can make even in batches of almost 12 cups in a single brew cycle of a drip coffee machine.
While you could experiment with other ways of making coffee, you’ll find that drip coffee offers quality, convenience, and choice. Drip coffee’s delicate yet complex nutty, chocolatey, and sweet flavors will tantalize your taste buds. You’re bound to keep coming back for more.