Auto-drip is probably the most common type of brewing simply because it’s the easiest and probably least expensive to get started at home. Unfortunately, it’s also the least likely to get a great cup.
The basic principle is as follows: the machine heats the water with electric heating elements, then pumps a stream of hot water into a basket holding the coffee grounds. The water flows slowly through the grounds extracting the coffee solids, then drips out the bottom into a carafe. Simple, right?
The biggest issue counter-top auto-drip machines run into is water temperature. The electronics used in most standard machines aren’t capable of heating the water to the ideal range of 195-205 degrees F, instead only reaching on average about 180 degrees. The cooler temperature can’t extract the origin flavors from the grounds, but can extract enough roast flavors (origin flavors are specific to where the coffee was grown and how it was processed, roast flavors are basically the cooked/burnt sugars in the beans).
There are some counter-top machines out there that do provide good temperatures, my personal preference for someone getting started in coffee appreciation is the Bonavita Connoisseur. It runs around $150 or so, and for that price you get a pre-soak feature, a showerhead drip feature that evenly saturates all the grounds, and water hot enough for proper extractions for all roast levels. There are plenty of other models out there, so look around and get the best you can afford.
If you have questions about auto-drip brewing machines, feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.