The Snob-Free Guide To America's Favorite Brewing Method.

American households are most likely to own an automatic drip coffee maker than any other coffee equipment. They've been written off by some coffee snobs but Popular.Coffee is a snob free zone. Admittedly, not all the machines are created equally and some are not great, but there are also some excellent ones out there, and with the right quantity and quality of coffee, you'll get a good cup.

Automatic Drip Cheat Sheet

  • Like all filter coffees, drips give you a "thin or clean" coffee as oils and sediment are trapped by the filter
  • It's not the cheapest equipment and prices range from $50 - $350
  • There are different machine sizes - for one person to large caffeine crews
  • Daily cleaning is easy but you need to descale your machine from time to time, which can be a bit tricky
  • The water and time variables are usually pre-programmed, so all you need to focus on is getting the coffee grinds right

Reason To Love #1: It's Multi-task Friendly

The best thing about these machines is that they do (almost) all the work for you, which is particularly useful when you are in your morning rush, juggling kids, or you know, living life.

Reason To Love #2: Comes In Different Sizes

Drip machines can brew for anywhere from one to eight cups. The 8-cup version is an unbeatable solution for family lunches, meetings and any other gathering where you want the coffee ready and waiting.

The Theory

An Automatic Drip machine brews coffee by passing hot water through coffee grounds in the filter basket, and then letting the brew drip through into a carafe. With most Drip machines, you don't need to think about either time or water quantity, as these are most often pre-programmed variables. Drip users love this method of brewing because the only thing you need to think about is your coffee grounds, and the rest is "automatic" (by comparison, most other brew methods you'll need to pay attention to at least two of the three brewing variables, which are water, coffee and time). Pre-programmed time and water settings are great when properly calibrated, however that's sometimes not the case with machines of lower quality. Here are the signs that your machine is not doing it's job right:

  • Machine runs too hot, resulting in coffee that tastes burned
  • Machine pours water too quickly, resulting in weak coffee
  • Machine doesn't pour evenly, so grounds are unevenly soaked, resulting in weak coffee

Automatic Drip Instructions

Automatic drips are self-explanatory, but just in case, here's the drill:

  1. Fill with water
  2. Place a filter in the basket and fill with grounds
  3. Press the button to brew!

Tweaking the coffee is the more interesting part of using an Automatic Drip, and people are often not sure how much coffee to use. "Scoops" is not a real measurement fyi. If your Automatic Drip machine uses a fixed amount of water every time it brews, then here's an easy hack to find out how much coffee to use:

  1. Run a blank cycle to check how much water is used.
  2. Measure water volume in milliliters
  3. Divide by 13 to get your coffee quantity in grams

This hack allows you to achieve a 1 to 13 coffee to water ratio, which is Mr. Popular's starting point for home brewing methods (that don't use pressure). This ratio is the ideal place to start exploring your favorite brew, and your next step will be to adjust up or down to your own personal taste.

Drips work best with a medium grind like the Popular.Coffee HOME BREW grind. A finer grind will slow the water percolation and make the brew stronger, and a coarser grind will result in weaker coffee.

On a final note, some machines have a hot plate that keeps leftover coffee hot, but we never recommend using them. Your brew will start to burn when left to simmer, and will develop a bitter taste. Instead, we recommend moving any leftover coffee to a thermos.

Click here for our recommended gear to brew Auto Drip