Coffee Methods: The Drip Pot

We'll talk about several ways of making coffee this week, so let's start with the most basic, ubiquitous method of coffee-making: the drip brew pot. In the United States at least, the drip brew is by far the most popular method of brewing coffee. It brews by heating water then dripping it through a basket, usually lined with a paper or plastic mesh filter, that is filled with ground coffee beans. The water drains out the bottom of the basket into the waiting pot below.

These drip brew systems are fairly inexpensive and it's easy to adjust their output for one or more coffee drinkers. The black Cuisinart above ($79.95, Amazon) is on the higher end of the spectrum with auto-off and timing functions. The little 4-cup Mr. Coffee ($18.88, Amazon) is a model we lived with for years, and it brews just enough for one or two people.

Drip brewing has certain advantages - it's easy, quick, and cleanup is easy. It also leaves a lot of the essential oils and sludge behind in the filter, so it's a little easier on the stomachs of people who are bothered by coffee's oils. But it also leaves more of the rich taste behind, giving a clearer, brighter brew than other methods.

Drip brewing also results in a greater amount of caffeine per cup because of the length of time the water spends in the grounds.

A couple tips to get the most out of your drip brew coffe:

• Grind your beans right before you brew the coffee for maximum taste and freshness.
• Brew only what you will drink in the next 20 or 30 minutes. Once coffee has cooled it can't be reheated without serious degradation of taste.

We like the convenience of drip coffee but prefer the taste of French press and other brewing methods. Do you have any drip pot recommendations? What do you look for in a drip pot brewer?

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