How to Make Coffee

Let’s go back to basics for a minute and focus on one simple question: How do you make coffee?

I’ve seen this question come up on a few question boards, and it occurred to me that the answer isn’t necessarily as simple as one might think. There are, after all, countless ways to make this ancient drink, and it exists in a quite a variety of forms.

This is what lead me to the decision to write this article as a guide explaining what making coffee-making entails, and what the most common brewing methods are.

So, let’s get started:

What is ‘Brewing Coffee’?

What exactly do people mean when they talk about ‘brewing coffee’? To ‘brew’ is to make something, either by fermenting it – like you do with beer – or by making it with boiling water, generally by seeping, mixing, or soaking in said boiling water. That’s why we say that we brew beer, but you also say that we brew beverages like coffee and tea, even though beer and coffee are very clearly not made the same way.

Coffee Brewing Methods

Coffee is an incredibly old drink, so there are countless ways to make it. The most common one that people refer to is via drip coffee maker, which is what people commonly use to brew coffee maker at home. Basic drip coffee makers are the ones with a glass carafe (coffee pot), that often hold up to 12 cups of coffee. This machine works by pouring water through coffee grounds and a paper filter, turning that water into coffee.

The other two most common at-home coffee brewing methods for regular coffee are brewing via a press, or a french press – which is the one that consists of a glass pitcher that has a lid with a plunger – and via pour-over, which is a conical-shaped device that sits over the top of a cup or is attached to a larger container that collects the coffee you make.

 

The other type of coffee you see people make at home a lot is instant coffee.

Instant coffee is made from fine or granulated instant coffee powder and hot water. It’s basically just processed, dehydrated coffee powder that you scoop into a cup and add hot water to. The coffee you get from instant coffee powder is similar to regular drip coffee, but it is more heavily processed (meaning it does have a higher chemical composition), it has a lower caffeine content, and – in my opinion – doesn’t have the same boldness in taste.

Espresso is still coffee and still made from roasted coffee beans, but the beans and brew for espresso are prepared differently than those for drip coffee. This is why espresso beans are sold separately, and why you need a specific espresso maker to make it. There’s no instant espresso powder, and you can’t make make espresso in a regular coffee maker, or using any of the methods I listed above, which is why people mostly just get their espresso intake from coffee shops, since a very large portion of coffee shop drinks are made with espresso.

How to Make Coffee with a Drip Coffee Maker

Making coffee with a drip coffee maker requires more than just the coffee maker itself. You also need water, coffee grounds, and a paper coffee filter.

  1. First, fill the water reservoir to the desired water level. Most coffee makers have measurements on the side of both the machine and the pot that depict how many cups of coffee you want to make. Keep in mind that the 12-cup mark doesn’t actually make 12 regular mugs full of coffee, and it doesn’t mean 12 liquid measured cups (3 quarts) either. It is supposed to refer to mugs of coffee, but it’s considering a mug of coffee to be only 5oz, and I have never seen a mug that holds less than 10oz. Most mugs are significantly bigger.
  2. The easiest way I’ve found to figure out how much water you need is to fill the carafe (the glass pot part) with as much water as coffee you want to end up with.
  3. Next, pour the water into the water reservoir in the machine. This is the part that looks like a tank, and is typically behind the basket for the filter.
  4. Then, get your paper filter out and place it in the basket.
  5. The next step is to measure out and add your coffee grounds. (Make sure they are already ground – if they are whole mean, you do need to grind them first!) I recommend starting out by adding a scoop of coffee for every ‘cup’ of water you added to the machine, but you should experiment with this ratio over time and decide how strong you personally prefer your coffee.
  6. Lastly, set the machine to brew! How to start the machine varies by product. If there’s a ‘brew’ button, press that. If there is no brew button, you most likely just need to press the on/off or power button to start the brewing process.

Some machines are more complicated than others. If you aren’t sure about how your specific drip coffee maker works or how it’s laid out, it might be a fancier machine, and I’d recommend googling that specific model and looking for diagrams or videos on their specific website.

How to Make Coffee with a Keurig

Keurigs and other single-serve coffee makers are also popular for at-home coffee brewers, and making coffee in them is similar to making coffee in a drip coffee maker. One thing I have noticed about Keurigs is that every machine tends to be a little bit different, however, they all have the same general components that make the brewing process pretty simple.

  1. First, fill the water reservoir, just like you’d do with a drip coffee maker.
  2. Next, open the tray that houses the coffee pod. Empty any old pods, and place your desired one in the pod-sized divot that’s clearly meant for it. Close the tray – this should puncture a hole in the top of the pod.
  3. Place your cup on the tray beneath the spout.
  4. Press the button to start the brew process – this might be a ‘K’ button, a ‘brew’ button, or a button with an image of a coffee cup on it. Some models ask you to pick a size as well before you can brew – for reference, smaller mugs are generally around 12oz, and larger ones can hold as much as 24oz. If you don’t know how big your cup is and can’t measure it, make your best guess based on its size, and play it safe the first time.

And that’s it!

Happy Brewing!

I hope that you found this guide helpful, and learned something new! If there’s anything I missed, or if you have any more questions on making coffee, please leave a comment below! Happy coffee-making!

14 Replies to “How to Make Coffee”

    1. Hi Brianna,

      I know! This is so true that sometimes it’s super helpful to go back to basics. Even though I drank both espresso and regular coffee, I also didn’t know the difference between the two until I started working as a barista – I just knew that it was made in fancier machines at coffee shops.

      Thanks for the comment!
      ~Jade

  1. Hi, Jade,

    Wonderful post, I love it!

    Sometimes some pretty clear things raise some questions in our minds when we are about to do them in our day-to-day life.

    I would like to add here that in my country people very often prepare their coffee on the stove, in a special vessel.

    It’s very similar to Turkish coffee and it super-delicious!

    1. Hi Natalie,

      That sounds delicious! Turkish coffee is amazing! May I ask what country you’re from? Is it made similarly to stove-top espresso? I assume it has a pretty strong flavor?

      Thanks for the comment!
      ~Jade

  2. Hi Jade,

    I love coffee and I probably drink too much of it when I’m working. Now that we are in Covid and I have to work from home, I have drank a bit more of it. At the moment I drink instant coffee just because of the ease of making it and it’s a lot quicker to make. I don’t mind the taste of some of them either.

    However, when we can eventually start accepting guests into our homes following these new lockdown restrictions, making coffee will be essential. So, I need to take notice of this article and learn the correct way to make coffee and invest into the brewing machines that I need.

    Thank you for sharing and I’ll keep you updated on my coffee making journey.

    All the best,

    Tom

    1. Hi Tom,

      I definitely also drink too much coffee – but it’s so good! Thanks for the comment, and good luck on your coffee-making journey! Let me know if you have any questions! I’m also going to publish an article soon that’s all about choosing a drip coffee maker; maybe that could help you out?

      Thanks!
      ~Jade

  3. I was working as a barista for a while in coffee shops and I have to say, great work with your article here. I like the introduction section the most where you talk about brewing coffee and various different methods to make a cup of coffee. I like to read about coffee and test different methods myself. I have to admit, I’m not a fan of drip coffee but a cup from Keurig is always a good idea, although I’m an espresso machine guy. In any case, I like this post a lot and your site altogether. Keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Ivan,

      Thank you! Praise from another former barista means a lot! I know that drip coffee is the least-tasty easily-brewed coffee, but it is awfully convenient with how quickly and much coffee you can get at a time.

      I do love espresso too! I am going to be purchasing an espresso machine of some kind myself soon – I had one once, but it wasn’t very good quality and didn’t work right, sadly.

      Thanks again!
      ~Jade

  4. I love coffee and enjoyed your post on how to make coffee. I have a Dulce Gusto coffee maker that I think is similar to a Keurig, but it doesn’t have a milk frother. I use a small hand whisk to froth heated milk though which works great. I also used to have a drip coffee maker, and would experiment with different types of ground coffee. I like my coffee pod machine though as it’s quick and no extra washing up! Thanks for sharing:)

    1. Hi Kathy,

      Thanks for the comment! I’m actually not very familiar with the Dulce Gusto brand’s products. Does your machine work well? How long have you had it? And would you recommend it to others?

      I have a hand-held milk frother that sounds similar. What’s the best way that you’ve found to heat up milk to froth? I’ve always just used a microwave, but I feel like there has to be a better way, besides just buying a frother that heats the milk as it froths.

      Thanks,

      Jade

  5. Jade,

    Thank you for the tour of how to properly brew a cup of coffee, we are big coffee drinkers. We have a cup every morning and will say that we do it the simple way coffee maker of course.
    But we did not know that there are many different ways that you can brew a cup. An may even be better than what we think of when we think of coffee.
    Thanks again for sharing this wonderful article with us and everyone else.

    Cheers,
    Mathew&Deloris

    1. Hi guys,

      I’m glad you found this article informative! If you get the chance or decide to branch out, I highly recommend at least trying a french press – french coffee is AMAZING!

      Thanks for the read, and the comment!
      ~Jade

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