If you are hoping to create your perfect cup of coffee at home, rather than picking it up every morning from your favorite coffee house, one of the most common ways to do this is by investing in a drip coffee maker.
These are the most common type of coffee makers on the market and can be used to make a single cup or to cater for after coffees at a dinner party, which is what makes them so versatile. You simply adjust the amount of coffee and water you put into the machine.
A drip coffee machine essentially works by pouring hot water gradually, over ground coffee which sits in a filter. The filters can either be paper or reusable which are usually made of mesh. As the water drips through the coffee, it passes through the filter and into a pot below.
While the process is largely automatic once you switch your drip coffee maker on, there are many variables that you still control, and which can have a really big impact on how your coffee tastes and the quality.
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Why is the Water Important in Drip Coffee?
So, let’s break down all the elements to see how to make the perfect cup of drip coffee. Firstly, the obvious component is the water. You need good quality water to make a decent cup of coffee, and this is definitely true in a drip coffee maker.
You can use tap water but it’s better if you filter it first to remove any chemicals which you might be able to taste in your coffee afterward. Distilled water doesn’t work as it’s too flat but bottled water can be a good option.
What Kind of Coffee Should I Choose?
One of the important things when making drip coffee is to choose the type of grind that goes with your coffee machine. Most drip coffee makers work better with a coarser ground coffee as an exceptionally fine grind, like an espresso, will simply flow through the paper filters and end up in your cup.
So, while you should choose the roast, flavor, and strength of coffee that you like, make sure you are choosing coarse ground so that you don’t end up with coffee mud at the bottom of your cup each time.
Most drip coffee machines operate at set temperatures and with set brewing times, so these elements are largely automated and out of your control, which is why it is important to get the coffee and water quality perfect.
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Can I Grind My Own Coffee?
Yes, if you want to have even more control over your drip coffee then you can always buy fresh coffee beans and grind them yourself, that way you will know exactly how coarse or fine the grind is every single time.
Grinding your coffee at home also means your coffee will be as fresh as it can possibly be before it’s brewed. The best time to grind your coffee beans is as soon as possible before you brew as the longer you leave the coffee out in the air the quicker it will lose its flavors.
If you are going to grind the coffee for your drip coffee machine, then you will need to invest in a separate coffee grinder as well and make sure you go for a good quality grinder otherwise you will end up with an uneven grind and risk grit in your cup.
You don’t need an expensive grinder as you are not aiming to grind into a fine powder-like espresso, but you need one that works well and offers a uniform grind every time you use it. You need it to be reliable.
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Do I Need to Heat Up the Water First?
When it comes to using a drip coffee maker one of the elements you can’t control is the temperature of the water. You don’t need to heat the water first; you add cold water into the coffee maker’s reservoir and when you switch the machine on it will heat the water automatically. You just need to trust the manufacturers for this element of the brewing process.
How Do I Look After My Drip Coffee Machine?
Looking after your drip coffee maker is particularly important if you want it to remain clean and bacteria-free, and to keep running and producing coffee for a long time to come. There are two key aspects to maintaining your drip coffee maker.
Firstly, it should be cleaned after every use, so disconnect it from the power once it has cooled down and then wash all the removable elements in warm soapy water, or they might even be able to go through the dishwasher.
You should also wipe down the machine, particularly the areas where spills and drips might build-up, to avoid creating areas for germs to breed. Leaving the lid open so the machine can dry out each time is also a good way to keep it clean.
Secondly, every month or two months you will need to run a process to descale your coffee maker using vinegar or a descaling solution. This will help to prevent limescale build-up within the machine that can stop it from working and lead to horrible coffee.
You need to fill the water reservoir with half vinegar and half water and then run the coffee maker without any coffee in it. This will help to clear out all the pipes and connections of any build-up and debris. After you have run it through with the vinegar solution, you will need to run another two cycles with pure water, just to clear all the vinegar out. You don’t want your next cup of coffee to taste like vinegar.
Making coffee with a drip coffee maker is relatively simple as all of the brewing processes are automated, so once you have mastered how much coffee to use, and how much water to use, you will have great coffee at your disposal whenever you need it.
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