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How to Use a Drip Coffee Maker

Coby McKinley Profile image

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Updated February 12, 2023

If you’re shopping for the best coffee maker, you may wonder how to use a drip coffee maker. This ubiquitous filter coffee machine is a staple of morning routines everywhere. In addition, modern models contain advanced features and a programmable brewing time. Lastly, the auto-drip coffee maker is standard enough that even non-coffee drinkers should understand the brewing process.


  • Power on your drip coffee maker and fill the water tank.
  • Next, place a filter in the bean basket and fill it halfway with ground coffee.
  • Allow 10 minutes for the coffee to percolate before removing it from the burner.

A drip machine consists of a few parts: The drip-coffee machine, hot plate, coffee pot, water reservoir, and filter basket. You’ll also need a coffee filter to hold your coffee grounds. The average coffee drinker uses pre-ground coffee, but you can buy whole coffee beans and use a coffee grinder for a coarse or finer grind. For more essential tips, read our guide on how to use a coffee maker. We also have wonderful guides on how to do other useful tasks like setting a coffee maker timer or using a smart plug with your coffee maker.

Check out this guide if you need to know how to use K-cups in a regular coffee maker.

Insider Tip

A medium-roast coffee bean will produce a balanced taste for most coffee drinkers.

How to Make a Cup of Drip Coffee

Tools: drip coffee maker, coffee beans, coffee grinder (optional), paper or stainless steel filter

STEP 1 Power on the Coffee Machine

If you’re using an electric drip coffee maker, plug it in and set the clock if you want a programmable start time.

STEP 2 Prepare the Coffee Grounds

While most beans will work for a standard coffee maker, a coffee enthusiast will want something more freshly ground. You can find delicious coffee at your local coffee shop or grocery store. That said, buy a medium-grind coffee for the best taste from your automatic drip coffee maker.

STEP 3 Fill the Water Tank

While you can use bottled water, your drink will taste OK with tap water. If you want to quicken the brew cycle, use hot water, but your drink will be fine with cold water. Use about 3 ounces of water per tablespoon of coffee for the best flavor.

STEP 4 Fill the Filter with Grounds

Place your filter in the coffee bean basket. While most users choose paper, you can buy a reusable mesh filter to save money over time. Keep in mind, larger amounts of coffee mean a more potent brew. So, use about two tablespoons of coffee grounds per cup of water you put in the water tank.

STEP 5 Begin the Brewing Process

Place your coffee pot on the warming plate under the coffee spout. Your pot of coffee should start brewing after you close the carafe lid. That said, your model may have a start or brew button.

STEP 6 Serve and Enjoy

On any automatic coffee maker, the brewing process will stop on its own. The hot place will keep your coffee warm for a while, but don’t leave it on there for too long. An overheated cup of coffee will taste bitter and might even have an acidic taste.

Now that you know how to make drip coffee, you may be curious about how different machines work. If so, we have a couple of great guides you can check out to learn to use a Vietnamese coffee maker or a siphon coffee maker. Each type uses different methods and energy to make your delicious cup, so if you are worried about power consumption you can read about how many watts a coffee maker uses.


A hot plate will keep your coffee hot, but you risk ruining the flavor of your pot if the brew overheats.


Are single-serve coffee makers worth it?

Single coffee machines cost more than conventional models, but they produce coffee much faster. So, if you want quicker coffee, a single-serve machine might be worth it.

Is Pour Over Coffee Better?

Pour-over coffee can have a richer taste than drinks from a coffee machine. That said, the time and effort required to master pour-over beverages are not for everyone.

What is the best coffee grinder for home use?

An electric coffee grinder is the most convenient option, but you can use a spice grinder if you’re in a pinch.

Coby McKinley Profile image