Auto Coffee Makers - First Cup the Strongest?


We've got a running discussion in our home about the first several cups of coffee that come out of our automatic coffee maker - are those actually the strongest cups that are filtered through to the carafe?

Seems silly to have a pause button if you should be waiting until the carafe is filled with the amount of desired coffee so that the strength is evenly divided.

One of us prefers to wait, based on that theory and one of us doesn't have the patience in the a.m. (actually any time) to wait for 4-6 cups to be brewed before getting a cup.

Love this site and glad we found it! Thanks – MMR


Good question.

Here’s the short answer: Yes, if you interrupt the brew cycle and just grab the first cup or so that comes through, it will taste stronger than if you pour a cup from the full carafe after the cycle is complete.

Actually, you’ll get that stronger taste even if you let the cycle go about three quarters of the way before interrupting.

It’s just in that final quarter or so that you’ll see the coffee is noticeably weaker.

But there is a caveat here.

If you are just making a regular pot of coffee, by all means pause the brew to get that stronger cup.

But if you are brewing a quality coffee and want to enjoy all of its flavors, notes and subtleties, then you need to allow the complete brew cycle to finish.

How come? Because the extraction time makes a difference to the taste. In other words, to get all the finer flavors out of the ground coffee, it needs to be in contact with the hot water for 4 or 5 minutes.

Less than that, and you don’t get the full taste. Longer than that, and the coffee is over-extracted and tastes bitter.

So by all means, pause the brewer to get that stronger taste. Just keep in mind that you’re not getting the best taste.

Oh…and you are also messing up the balance of the coffee for anyone who waits for the cycle to complete!


Comments for Auto Coffee Makers - First Cup the Strongest?

Click here to add your own comments

Extraction time is for drip coffee brewers
by: Nick (Coffee Detective)


The extraction time I talk about is for drip brewing systems...which are gravity fed, with the water dripping through the ground coffee.

When you add pressure...with a percolator, an espresso machine or with a Keurig, Tassimo etc...then everything changes, and the extraction time is shorter...and the coffee is different.


Extraction Time.......
by: pistachio

well then..

explain how it is that the Italian Style stove top coffee maker and of course the magnificent Faema or Malverna professional Espresso Machines process Extraction in a very very short moment.....

I think you will say temperature and pressure accounts for the difference / thus negating everything that was stated in your response about brewing time.....

nevertheless..... Coffee is one of life's greatest pleasures ! ! ! !


Apologies for the slow response!
by: Nick (Coffee Detective)

MMR, hi

Sorry about that...I lost your question in a list of others and didn't realize I hadn't answered it.

Best wishes,


by: MMR

WOW - I'd almost forgotten that I'd asked a question; but better an answer than not.

What you said makes total sense and we use a mix of chicory and coffee from a great place in New Hampshire (wasn't sure if I could mention the name of the companies).

Will try and be patient and see what the difference may be or just put the coffee maker on the timer so it will be done when we get up (this is after all, one of the reasons it's there).

Thanks so much and love your site. MMR

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions about Coffee.

Before you go, sign up to receive the Coffee Detective Newsletter...

Sign up for occasional newsletters about the best coffees and brewing equipment. Plus special updates from the Coffee Detective Coffee Store…