There are a lot of ways to brew coffee, but my Mr. Coffee 5-Cup Automatic Drip machine is a workhorse. At times when I’m in dire need, sure I’ll brew two pots, but it has honorably served me well… So how can I, or you, better serve our automatic drip coffee machines, to get a better cup of coffee?
First, you have to start with the coffee… This is true for every single method of brewing… You just can’t brew great coffee with less-than-stellar beans. Buy fresh, buy local, or even buy your brand, just make sure it’s high quality stuff.
Second, be sure you’re storing your beans or grinds (if you prefer not to grind your beans yourself) properly… Cool and cold temperatures work best depending on how long it takes you to get through the bag. So it’s either the refrigerator or the freezer for those beans or grinds if you know what’s good for you.
Next up, bean prep for those of you self-grinders out there… The best grind for your coffee maker will completely depend upon the kind of filter that you have. For flat bottom filters or those reusable filters use a medium grind, while for cone shaped filters a medium to fine grind.
The other main ingredient, water, isn’t to be overlooked either. Use filtered water. Filtered water takes out many, but not all of the minerals that come out of your tap water (if you have drinkable tap water, that is). You can use bottled water if you prefer or if you don’t have a filter, but do not use distilled water (as it has no minerals at all), it can leave you with a flatter than flat cup of coffee.
Now that we’ve got our ingredients sorted out it is time to prepare the machine. Rinsing out your paper filters with cool water can clean them and prime them for optimal filtration. Measure out your coffee efficiently; two level tablespoons for each 6oz. of water. Lastly, before you hit the brew button, add a little bit of hot water to the grounds. I’m talking about an ounce, just a smidge so to speak. This will start the extraction process that is about to occur, giving your coffee a head start on the whole brewing process.
Now, this next part you have no control over… Be sure your coffee maker maintains an optimal water temperature of 200 degrees. That’s the optimal heat required for extraction. If you’re maker doesn’t do that, maybe it’s time for a new one… These things, don’t last forever.
Once the coffee is done brewing, and you should wait until the entire pot is brewed, put it into a thermal carafe and remove the pot from the heating element. Leaving the pot on the heating plate can lead to burnt coffee and once it’s cool be sure to clean the heating element to maintain optimal performance.
Also, and I’m guilty of this, clean out the pot daily, not just by rinsing, but an actual cleaning. And do a deep clean on the actual coffee maker about once a month. You can do this by running your machine with a mixture of 50% water and 50% vinegar. Brew it once without beans, obviously, and then take the resulting mixture and run it through a second time. Lastly, clean out the pot and brew one more time with just fresh water to flush out any remaining vinegar.
This will keep your pot clean and your coffee as fresh as can be.
That’s it… Follow all of these steps and your automatic drip coffee maker will reward you with some of the best tasting coffee you’ve ever made.