The Perfect Coffee 101: The Drip Pot

coffee quotes

Good morning world!  I figured for my first post, I should start off my blog the way I start my day; with the perfect cup of coffee.

My Love Affair with Coffee

looking back, the creamy dark beverage that we all hold so dear to our morning routine was always a big part of my life. It started with my grandmother, Grammy P.; she always had a pot on the stove in the morning, filling her kitchen and dinning room with the intoxicating aroma of fresh brewing comfort.  To this day, when I have a cup of coffee with a piece of toast with peanut butter, I think of her.  This was her breakfast most mornings and if I close my eyes I can still see her across the kitchen table from me, my small legs swinging and seeing her smile at me with love and tenderness.  She would often have her friends over and they would sit to drink coffee while they caught up on life events and gossip from their bowling club and friends group.  I loved to sit with them and watch as the steam rose from their cups, hands weathered by age and life experience wrapped around their mugs for warmth and comfort.  The memory still makes me smile.

Then there is my dad.  Growing up, my dad was always had a cup of coffee in his hand.   He’s one of those people that can still be drinking a steaming cup of joe when it’s 110 degrees outside.  He’s crazy!  He, like his mother, used, and still uses, coffee for many things.  It’s something to help him get through the day if he didn’t sleep well, it’s a reason to get together and catch up, and it’s most importantly a facilitator of bonding between the generations of our family and friends.  I remember getting out his large green thermos as a small child and my mom telling me to fill it with hot water from the sink so it would keep Daddy’s coffee hot longer.  I didn’t know why back then, but I was so happy to help Daddy that I did as I was told, and then it was my job to pour out the water so Mom could fill it with the fresh coffee for Dad to take to work with him on the river or to cut fire wood to sell.  She would say that it would help keep Daddy warm, especially if he knew I helped.  Dad and his friends always had a fresh pot of coffee on hand and wasted no time in drinking it.  If we were working in his friend’s fields or with the animals and things got complicated, frustrating and they weren’t making any progress, he would drop the tools and say, “Well…guess it’s time to just get a cup of coffee and let the universe work this one out.”  I would laugh and we would all go back to his friend’s house and take a break.  I would sit at the table or in front of the fire while they would drink pot after pot of coffee and solve just about every problem the world did and ever will have.  I loved it.  My dad can still be seen today “begging a cup of coffee”, in his words, from just about anyone he can get it from, and we are all more than happy to oblige him so we can sit and solve the current problems of the world together; aka spending time together for no other reason than to just be in each other’s company.

I, unlike my grandmother and dad, wasn’t really a coffee drinker until I got to college. Even though I loved the smell and ritual of preparing the coffee for the ones I loved, I was always a tea drinker, since I could never really get into the flavor of the coffee.  That was, until I hit my senior year of college.  It was one of those classic mid-term all nighters followed by a 10 hour day of classes (poor planning on my part) and tea just wasn’t going to cut it.  Thank you Starbucks!  I got an A on my night class mid-term that day :).  Then I went to student teaching (oh, I’m a certified teacher by the way).  My roommate at the time was a big coffee drinker.  She learned it in the Army she said.  I was up one morning at 4:30 a.m. and wasn’t very happy about it.  She handed me a cup of coffee and told me to drink it because I would be in a better mood.  I told her that I didn’t like it and she told me in her mommy voice to “just drink it.”  I was so tired that I did.  I didn’t know she had put flavored creamer in it, and it changed my life!  Ok, so maybe that’s a small exaggeration, but I did become a coffee drinker; a problem I still struggle with today.  As I write this post, I have coffee brewing and just smelling it makes me smile.  Because I grew up with my dad as a big coffee drinker who learned it from his mother, and my husband says that he’s been drinking coffee for over 30 years (he’s 34 right now by the way), the smell brings back so many memories.  Riding in the truck with my dad when I was little, on our way to cut firewood or help his friend put up hay.  Sitting with my grandmother at her kitchen table the morning after spending the night and the smile on her face as she made me breakfast.  The first morning as a married couple on our way home, and the first thing we made in our first new home while we unpacked.  I guess my love of coffee is more for the memories I associated with it than the drink its self.

My Morning Coffee
The perfect cup of morning joe.

Coffee Basics

So, now that you know all about my life with coffee, I’ll share the simple steps to making the perfect pot of coffee.  I learned how to make coffee at an early age for my dad in a percolator pot (for more information on percolator pots, check out this article *here*).  Today though, I use my basic $20.00 drip pot I got at BigLots like 8 years ago: I find it works better and lasts longer than the expensive ones I’ve had.  You don’t need a fancy pot if you just want a good classic cup of joe in morning.  The measurements are the same for both styles of pots though, so it makes it easier on you.

Drip Pot Coffee Filters

First things first, let’s talk about filters.  There are 3 main types of filters out there for your drip pot:

  1. The Cone filter: These filters tend to be made from thicker fiber, usually paper, to filter out more sediment and give you a smoother cup of coffee.  These are the ones we use after trying all 3 types.
  2. The Basket filter: This is the one most of us are familiar with from crafting in grade school.  They are white or brown with a flat bottom and rippled edges.  They come in bleached (white) or natural (brown) and can be found almost anywhere for a crazy reasonable price.  I find that if you don’t put the coffee directly in the middle of these though, the grounds will spill over into your pot; so take the time to place the grounds correctly.  Here is a link to a natural one made in the USA.
  3. Reusable filters: You can get either Cone or Basket filters in reusable forms.  They can be cloth or mesh and vary in price.  Here are my top picks for each:
    1. Cone: Reusable fabric cone filters.
    2. Basket: Mesh basket filter with handle.  This is the one that we have and use in our pot when we run out of the paper Cones.

Choosing and Measuring Your Coffee

After you have chosen a pot and filter it’s time to brew!  Aren’t you excited?  Oh, wait…you still need the coffee don’t you?  Here’s my question, how do you select your coffee grounds?  Do you just pick the one your parents or grandparents used, or do you explore and try new types of roasts and flavors?  Here is the ridiculously oversimplified version of what the 3 major categories of roast are and what they mean for the everyday consumer like you and me:

  1. Dark Roast: Dark roast is exactly what it sounds like.  It is coffee beans that have been roasted longer than the others and given a bold, often bitter flavor.  I personally find that most dark roasts taste bitter and/or burnt no matter how I brew them and just generally stray away from them.  I do, however, have friends that will swear by the dark roast and say it has a “depth of flavor I just don’t understand.”   Maybe they’re right.
  2. Medium Roast: This is our favorite here on the TreadlingHome-stead.  It is that happy medium between dark and light roasts where you get the bold coffee bean flavor missing from the light roasts without the bitter of the dark.  My favorite strait up medium roast is Maxwell House Smooth and Bold.
  3. Light Roasts: Light roasts are just that, they have a light coffee flavor and tend to be your Morning and Breakfast blends.  If you are going to have a light roast, I would suggest going with a Breakfast blend, since you can still taste the coffee in most of those.  Be careful thought, some light roast just kind of taste like super watered down coffee no matter how well you brew them, so it’s going to be a trial and error for your particular taste.

Now that you know what roast of coffee you are going to use, we can measure it and brew our morning coffee.

Here is the formula for the perfect pot of coffee:

1 Tablespoon of ground coffee + 2 cups of cold water = 2 perfect cups of coffee.  I.e. Use 4 Tablespoons of grounds for an 8 cup pot of perfectly balanced coffee.

These measurements work no matter what type of pot you are using.  Start with cold water as it helps to keep the reservoir clean and also helps the pot last longer.  Use 1 tablespoon of ground coffee per 2 cups of water in your pot.  So I have a 12 cup drip pot and I use 6 tablespoons of grounds.  This is true for all coffee types, basic roasts and flavored.  Also, I know it can be hard, but if you can wait and let the coffee sit and settle for 3-5 minutes after brewing, it is so much better.  This allows any sediment that made it through the filter to sink to the bottom of the pot and gives you a smoother taste.

That’s it!  That’s all there is to making a great cup of coffee with a drip pot.  I know that my husband and I prefer Maxwell House, McCafe and 8 o’clock coffee brands.  Of course, we do also go to Marshalls and BigLots to get specialty and seasonal flavored brands for a treat every now and then.

Now that you’ve made the perfect pot of coffee, all that’s left to do is pour yourself a cup and enjoy.

Let us know what your favorite coffees are in the comments.

Have a great day everyone!

Drip Pot-Recipe

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