What is Drip Coffee? A Beginner's Guide

By: Valor Team

Published On: June 18, 2024

Category: Education

Coffee vocabulary is extensive and oftentimes…complicated.

Whether you're new to the world of coffee or just looking to expand your brewing horizons, you've probably heard of drip coffee. It's a staple in many households and coffee shops, but what exactly is drip coffee? We’ve created this ‘beginner's guide to drip coffee’ to explore everything you need to know about this brewing method, including how it’s made, its variations, and tips for brewing the perfect cup.

What is Drip Coffee?

Drip coffee is a method of brewing coffee that involves hot water dripping over ground coffee beans, filtering through a medium, and collecting in a pot or carafe. This process, known as drip brewing or filter brewing, is one of the most popular and accessible ways to make coffee.

The real beauty of drip coffee lies in its simplicity and consistency. You can easily control the coffee-to-water ratio, brewing time, and water temperature to tailor the flavor to your liking. Who doesn’t like reliability when it comes to starting each day with a new cup in the morning?

The Perfect Drip Coffee Ratio and Grind Size

To brew the perfect cup of drip coffee, getting the ratio of coffee to water and the grind size just right is crucial.

Drip Coffee-to-Water Ratio:

  • A standard coffee-to-water ratio is 1:15 to 1:17. This means using 1 gram of coffee for every 15 to 17 grams of water.
  • For a more robust/strong flavor, you can adjust the ratio to 1:15. If you prefer a milder cup, 1:17 might be more to your taste.
  • For example, if you're brewing a 12-ounce cup (about 340 grams), you would use approximately 20 grams of coffee with a 1:17 ratio.
  • Our preferred ratio, and the “Gold” standard according to the Specialty Coffee Association, is 1:16.

Grind Size:

  • The grind size for drip coffee should be medium, similar to the texture of sand.
  • A consistent grind ensures even extraction, which is key to a balanced flavor.
  • Using a burr grinder is recommended as it produces a uniform grind compared to a blade grinder, and is what is used in almost all cafes and serious coffee aficionados’ homes.
  • Results will vary from bean to bean, as different roast level, origin and processing will cause the need for small adjustments in the medium grind size range.

Looking for the perfect compact burr grinder for unreal drip coffee at home or in the office? Check out the Fellow Ode in our shop!

Types of Drip Coffee

There are a few different types of drip coffee, each with its unique characteristics:

  • Hot Drip Coffee: This is the most common type, brewed by dripping hot water over coffee grounds. It’s typically made using an automatic drip coffee maker.
  • Cold Drip Coffee: This variation involves dripping cold water over coffee grounds for an extended period, resulting in a smooth, concentrated brew that’s perfect for iced coffee. Drink it as is, dilute with water, or even make a “cold brew latte” by adding milk.
  • Pour-Over Coffee: A manual method where hot water is poured over coffee grounds in a filter, offering greater control over the brewing process and a refined flavor profile. Highly customizable by the ability to easily manipulate variables like pulses, agitation, and total brew time.

What to look for in a Drip Coffee Maker

Though many drip coffee makers exist on the market today, selecting the right drip coffee maker is crucial for brewing a great cup at home. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Capacity: How many cups do you typically brew at once? Choose a machine that suits your daily coffee needs.
  • Features: Look for features like programmable settings, built-in grinders, and thermal carafes to enhance your brewing experience.
  • Ease of Use: Choose a coffee maker that is convenient to operate and clean if you’re preparing cups often. 

Some popular (serious) drip coffee makers we love and can attest have changed the drip game, include the Bonavita Connoisseur, Aeropress XL, and Technivorm Moccamaster

Interested in Dialing in Your Home Coffee Set Up With a New Drip Coffee Brewer? Check out the Bonavita Connoisseur (automatic) and Stagg XF (manual) in our Shop.

What Type of Beans Are Best for Drip Coffee?

Choosing the right beans is essential for making great drip coffee. Here’s what to consider:

  • Bean Origin: Different regions produce beans with unique flavor profiles. Ethiopian beans might offer fruity and floral notes, while Brazilian beans could provide a nuttier, chocolatey flavor.
  • Roast Level: Light to medium roasts are often preferred for drip coffee because they preserve the bean’s original flavors and offer a balanced acidity, especially by the specialty coffee community; however, dark roasts can be used for a bolder, more robust cup and are also a great choice for those whose palate prefers. The choice is truly up to the brewer.
  • Freshness: Always use freshly roasted beans for the best flavor, but not beans that are too fresh and haven’t had time to de-gas. Beans that have rested for anywhere between 7-30 days and kept in oxygen-restricted storage are ideal.

You can also use “espresso beans” for drip coffee, considering these beans are also just coffee beans, often roasted a touch darker. Just make sure to grind them coarser than you would for espresso to avoid clogging your filter and over-extraction.

Want to learn more about the difference between espresso and coffee beans? Check out our blog post here to get all the details!

Brewing the Perfect Cup

Now that you know what drip coffee is, here are some tips for brewing the perfect cup at home:

  • Use Fresh Beans: Freshly roasted beans make a significant difference in flavor. Try to buy coffee beans that have been roasted recently so you can make sure to drink during that perfect 7-30 day window.. Our staple blend, Freethrow, creates amazing drip coffee results and is sure to provide amazing taste. Plus you can be certain the coffee you order from us 
  • Measure Accurately: Use a kitchen scale or the best coffee scale we use in our cafes, the Acaia Pearl, to measure your coffee and water. A standard ratio is 1:16 (1 gram of coffee to 16 grams of water).
  • Grind Consistently: Invest in a good burr grinder to ensure a consistent grind size. For drip coffee, a straight up medium grind is a good starting point. We recommend the Fellow Ode or the Fellow Opus
  • Control Water Temperature: The ideal water temperature for brewing drip coffee is between 195°F and 205°F, though most good brewers will be programmed to hit this mark automatically.
  • Experiment: Don't be afraid to tweak your recipe. Adjust the coffee-to-water ratio, grind size, and brew time to find your perfect cup.


Drip coffee is a versatile and approachable brewing method that can produce a delicious cup of coffee with minimal effort. Whether you're exploring different beans at a local coffee shop or perfecting your home brewing setup, understanding the basics of drip coffee will elevate your coffee experience. So, grab your drip coffee maker and start experimenting with different beans, grind sizes, and brewing techniques to discover your perfect brew.

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