Just reading "drip coffee" conjures images of diner mugs, coffee pots and bustling morning commuters grabbing their cup to go. Practically everyone has had drip coffee if you're a coffee drinker, even if you weren't aware of the name. There are a lot, A LOT, of nicknames for it. Regular coffee, house coffee, "whatever is brewed already" coffee are just a few of those names. Drip coffee has an important place in the world of both coffee and specialty coffee, but it's important to ask first: what is drip coffee?
What is Drip Coffee?
Drip coffee is primarily a term meant to differentiate this method from espresso or pour-overs. In fact, drip coffee is one of the broadest methods of making coffee. There are many different brew devices out on the consumer and professional market to create your cup of drip coffee. Think of your typical coffee maker at home. The water rains down on the bed of coffee until it's finished dripping, ergo drip coffee. Coffee brewing towers in coffee shops make drip coffee. Even gas stations with the automated caramel vanilla dark roast buttons make drip coffee. It's actually easier to talk about what is NOT drip coffee. Espresso is made by using sustained high-pressure. Pour-overs are distinguished by manually pouring water over your brew method. In fact, the drip coffee and pour-over methods are very similar. Pour-over just requires manual input rather than automation.
Drip Coffee vs. Pour-Over
So which is better? Let's start off by saying that this is subjective. What you like is what you like, plain and simple. Having said that, the general state of drip coffee vs. pour-over is that drip coffees tend to be a less complex, less labor-intensive form of coffee brewing. This obviously has a few distinct advantages. You can literally set it and forget it. Let the machine create your cup or pot of coffee while you multi-task and do other things. Have your drip coffee maker automatically make coffee when you wake up in the morning. Usually in a coffeehouse this is the fastest way of acquiring your morning cup of coffee during a rush. In short, drip coffee wins efficiency with the trade off of quality as compared to pour-overs. Pour-overs tend to win out on quality; because while there are many great drip coffee machines out there, most of them fail in comparison to a barista with years of experience. But wait - don’t give up the drip just yet.
Is Drip Coffee bad?
So is it bad? For reasons stated above, drip coffee can sometimes get a bad reputation in the specialty coffee world. Most aficionados will automatically order espresso and pour-overs to get the best experience out of a given coffeehouse. However, in our opinion here at The Well, this is not always the best attitude. In short, no drip coffee isn't bad. It's just practical, especially if the coffeehouse is your go-to office. While it's true that it makes sense financially to invest less in drip coffee; we find that when you do invest in quality drip coffee, both average joes and coffee snobs alike appreciate it. In fact, when a coffeehouse has excellent drip coffee, the customer is usually more likely to return. It costs them less, and they enjoy it just the same. Drip coffee can and should be reliable for the daily drinker. Pour-overs are more experiential in nature. At The Well, we occasionally flip the script and just offer the same coffee as drip and pour-over, so that you can decide which you'd enjoy more.
Is Drip Coffee Stronger than Espresso?
The inevitable question of strength is a timeworn question here at The Well. Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t a lot of difference. To be clear, caffeine is just dependent on your dose. If you pull a shot of espresso with 20g of coffee in it and pour a pour-over with 20g of coffee in it, they are equal strength. A 12 oz drip at The Well roughly comes out to 18.89 grams per cup. So if you compare a 1.5 oz double-shot of espresso to a 12 oz drip coffee, you will get slightly more caffeine from espresso. Although, you can order a 16oz drip coffee from us making it "stronger" than espresso.
How Can I Improve My Drip Coffee?
Okay, so you've got a coffee maker at home or the office. How do you make it taste like the baristas do in a coffeehouse? (Hint: a lot of what we'll describe here can be applied to most home-brewing methods.) First of all the only way to get decent drip coffee is to start with decent coffee.
Step 1: Find a bag of your favorite coffee, and make sure it's fresh! Freshness will impact your cup maybe more than anything else. A good parameter is within 2-3 weeks of its roast date.
Step 2: Don't grind your coffee until you're ready to brew. Drip coffee starts behind other coffee brewing methods when it comes to flavor, so don't shoot yourself in the foot any more than you have to. Grind your coffee and brew within 30 minutes of grinding for the best experience. Pre-grinding might seem super convenient, but you'll lose a ton of flavor.
Step 3: Dose correctly. This is the most common downfall for home brewers. We recommend having a food scale and trying out something easy like a 1:16 ratio. If you pour a quart of hot water on too little or too much coffee, it's not going to taste good regardless of the quality of the bean.
So Why Choose Drip Coffee?
So after learning all of that, why would you choose drip coffee? Well it's simple. Drip coffee is consistent, reliable, easy and inexpensive. After many years of coffee drinking, tasting, learning and generally being well-caffeinated, it's nice to just have a cup of drip coffee and not have to ponder the great mysteries of complex flavor. It doesn't break the bank, and you're still going to get a great product. It doesn't make you think too hard, and it doesn't judge you for adding cream or sugar. It is, in effect, your "home" in coffee drinks. It's ubiquitous, at least in the USA, and something we're internationally known for.
Raising a mug to good coffee,