I Ask: How Do I Make A Good Pot Of Coffee?

While I was out yesterday morning, I had coffee so strong my heart thought we were running a marathon and tried to die.

Alternatively, the coffee I make at home is so weak that I’m actually drinking brown water. And falling asleep at the wheel.

As if the pancake question didn’t make me enough of a freak, I have no idea what I’m doing at my coffee maker. I even watched a video for guidance. And I’m pretty sure that it was made as a joke. HA! HA! The jokes on ME because we’re still drinking bad coffee. (And the video seems to have disappeared. Or is on Google page thirty-six. HA! HA! Jokes on them because no one is watching your make-fun-of-us-coffee-deficient-people-video-on-coffee.)

Free plug for Equal Exchange coffee

In case you are thinking from the picture that I need a tall skinny frappuccino with room for whip (I have no idea what I just wrote), Santa Claus brought us this fancy coffee maker a few years ago. It was actually on our first Christmas as parents. Because our letter to Santa was: HELP. And covered in drool.

I have never used the tiny pot except I once let my son pretend he was pouring coffee. And my husband once used that hanging down doohicky to froth his milk. Which I learned at my ten year college reunion is unnecessary. You can use a fork and a microwave. That will go well with my pancakes and eggs in a cup.

I hate mornings. Help me hate them a little less. Or with a little more caffeinated vigor.

Answer that I actually DID! Kim wrote: First — It starts with the beans…if you buy bad coffee you’ll have brown water. Also if the beans are old then they start to lose some of their flavor and potency and again you have brown water. So take care of your beans — do not freeze or refridgerate. Place them in an airtight container after opening. Ideally you’d do the grinding part right before you brew it to get the best flavor.

Second — it’s about the ratio. If you don’t want brown water then I agree with Angela — 1 tablespoon for each 6oz of water. It makes a very strong cup — so if it’s too strong then you can go 1 1/2 tablespoons (again actually measured) for every 12 oz. Oh and make sure you use filtered water.

Third — it’s actually about cleaning. Coffee pots get a lot of build-up of the minerals from the water and can actually start to make your coffee taste bad. I’d say every month — but realistically it’s like every 3 months “brew” some water and vinegar in your coffee pot to remove all the mineralization.

Hope that helps!

Answer that made me feel like less of a freak. The Kitchen Witch wrote: I loved this post! I can cook almost anything, but I swear, I make the most disgusting coffee on the planet. No matter what I do, it’s always gross!

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

25 thoughts on “I Ask: How Do I Make A Good Pot Of Coffee?

  1. ANything that involves me having to read a manual or watch a video to figure out how to do it pretty much just doesn’t get done around here. Or my husband has to do it. That includes using the coffee maker, programming the tivo, putting new batteries into our toothbrushes, and assembling any toy that has more than 2 pieces.

  2. I honestly laughed my way through this post from start to finish. You know, I really love your blog.

    Okay, coffee. Living in the land of the cheese (and wine and perfume and coffeeeeeeeee), I have learned how. You either fill the small cup thingie almost full to brim with grounds. Then press the button for either a short cup (less water, more punch), or a long cup (more like a cup, less like an espresso).

    But I usually use the pot. And I put one heaping spoon of coffee per cups of water (there should be a cup measure painted on the side of the pot). If I do a lot of cups, I’ll put a little less coffee (like 8 cups of water with 6 scoops of coffee).

    It’s a far cry from when I tried to make drip coffee with instant coffee.

  3. 1 level tablespoon of coffee grounds for every 1 cup of water. Make sure to use a measuring spoon, not a “regular” spoon. Some say it’s strong but that comment usually comes from people who like to drink brown water. 🙂 I find it equal to the coffee you get in restaurants and at Starbucks – minus the whip or whatever.

  4. Alton Brown did a wonderful show on coffee. He told everyone exactly how to do it.

    I still can’t brew a decent cup. But I do make a mean latte, and that’s my preferred drink, anyway. It looks like that machine does espresso drinks, so fire it up and try that. BUT–you do need good, strong coffee. Espresso coffee.
    .-= The Mother´s last blog ..Mesmerizing Medicine =-.

  5. I like brown water. However, I know that most people don’t. Many moons ago I worked in a restaurants and I’ve made more pots of coffee than most people will ever make in their entire lives. I know how to eyeball it. Not helpful, I know! But, you can buy pre-measured bags of coffee that are wrapped in their own filters. Voila! Instant measuring and you don’t even have to go searching for filters through the cupboards, knocking crap over and cursing as I typically do.

    I’ve never seen these in regular stores. I’ve never really looked for them either. But if you are really desperate you could probably buy them at a restaurant supply.

  6. It took us about 4 years to figure it out. We started using espresso grounds to make regular coffee and now we swear by it. Weird I know. Unfortunately, I don’t have a step-by-step for you. Here mainly for laughs. The rest is up to you. I know – useless reader I am 🙂
    .-= Justine´s last blog ..Something borrowed, something true =-.

  7. I do one scoop (using the scoop that comes with the coffee if you use Maxwell House, etc.) for every 2 cups (using the side of the coffee for the cups). So if I pour the water to the #8 on the side of the pot then I put 4 full scoops of coffee. And it’s usually pretty good to me! But it probably depends what kind of coffee you buy too. And you’re coffee maker is really intense.

  8. I’m not a coffee expert either. I think the 1 tablespoon per cup of water is pretty spot on but that’s tedious when making a big pot. I usually do 1/4 cup of grounds to 4 cups or 1/2 cup of grounds to 8 cups and it seems to make a decent cup of coffee.

    My Aunt recently bought us a Keurig and I’m in heaven: perfect cup of coffee every time and no waste! We use the DIY cup instead of buying all the little K-cups (just because I don’t like throwing away all that plastic).
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..Mood Swings and The Double Marathon Challenge =-.

  9. First – It starts with the beans…if you buy bad coffee you’ll have brown water. Also if the beans are old then they start to lose some of their flavor and potency and again you have brown water. So take care of your beans – do not freeze or refridgerate. Place them in an airtight container after opening. Ideally you’d do the grinding part right before you brew it to get the best flavor.

    Second – it’s about the ratio. If you don’t want brown water then I agree with Angela – 1 tablespoon for each 6oz of water. It makes a very strong cup – so if it’s too strong then you can go 1 1/2 tablespoons (again actually measured) for every 12 oz. Oh and make sure you use filtered water.

    Third – it’s actually about cleaning. Coffee pots get a lot of build-up of the minerals from the water and can actually start to make your coffee taste bad. I’d say every month – but realistically it’s like every 3 months “brew” some water and vinegar in your coffee pot to remove all the mineralization.

    Hope that helps!

  10. I am thinking that we have the exact same issues. I never make the coffee at home because I never know how much to put in the coffee maker…and yet it can’t be that hard because they must write the instructions on the package! So what I do is buy instant coffee. You really can’t go wrong with instant coffee: boil water, mix in a spoonful of coffee, add hot milk and sugar if so desired. It’s just like making instant cocoa. Starbucks now sells the – I forget what it’s called, but it’s half coffee half frothy milk, so you get the caffeine but not too much of it. But I’m sure the other readers have advice for making real coffee.
    .-= Only You´s last blog ..It’s That Time of Year Again… =-.

  11. Hubby and I like STRONG coffee. I mean strong. Most people water it down when we brew it. Back before I learned to eyeball it, I always went with two scoops per cup. Now I just eyeball it. So one scoop (TBSP) per cup ought to work.
    Even if you buy your beans ground already, you should always grind them again in a coffee grinder (they cost, like $12) or buy espresso grind. The finer the grind, the stronger the coffee.
    Use COLD filtered water and clean the coffeemaker once in a while. And if you doing all that and still getting brown water than I’m afriad it’s the coffe maker itself, it’s forcing the water through too quickly (which sometimes happens with the fancy ones). One option, if you’re in the kitchen, is to shut it off halfway through, give it a few minutes, and turn it on again.
    My husband probably would have divorced me if I hadn’t learned all this.

  12. Color me impressed…I don’t drink coffee, so I really have just about zero idea on how to make it. You know, other than driving to Starbucks. Lol
    .-= Jaina´s last blog ..All Stars =-.

  13. Pretty sure I’ve never made a pot of coffee in my life. Sad, right? But, aren’t there suggested ratios on the bag? You know, like 1 T coffee for every cup of coffee (btw, did you know that a cup of coffee is considered 6oz, while a regular cup is 8oz..food for thought.).

    Good luck!

  14. Who are all these people who don’t drink coffee? don’t make it at home? whaaaa? and I totally envy the cup at the shop every morning people.

    Personally i think the secret lies somewhere in the paper cups at the coffee shop (how totally non-environmentally conscious of me!) – I swear they enhance the flavor. My home brews suck in comparison to coffee shop goodness,
    BUT… at home i swear by a dash of cinnamon in the grounds basket,
    and i do better when i brew in smaller amounts (like 4c at a time rather than 6c at a time)
    in any case, when you get that fancy coffeemaker worked out, we’re all coming over for a cup (me first. BYOPaper cup)

  15. I don’t make a lot of coffee, but I use a french press when I do, not the space ship you’ve got. It steeps kind of like tea, so longer = stronger. Low tech baby, low tech.

  16. One word: Kuerig.

    Brews individual cups, have premeasured (and expensive – well not everything is perfect) grinds in different flavors and strengths. Put a K-cup in, close it and Voila! I use the re-usable K-filter (cheaper but still can’t do wrong)

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