Two alternatives to your electric drip brewer that are ideal for producing individual cups of coffee are the infusion method and the direct pour-over method.
The Infusion Method
The infusion method is commonly referred to as the French press or plunger-pot method. This method produces an excellent, smooth cup of coffee. French presses come in various sizes, but the most common are two-cup and six-cup.
To make coffee with the plunger pot, hold down the lid securely, pull the center knob drawing the filter to the top of the pot, and then remove the entire lid, rod, and filter assembly. Next, add the ground coffee. The coffee should be ground to a very coarse consistency (similar to raw sugar or very coarse sand). Use two level tablespoons for every six ounces of water. A coarse grind is used to allow the plunger to be pushed down easily and to ensure that the coffee will not be over-extracted, producing a bitter cup.
Pour the appropriate amount of 200° F brewing water over the coffee. Replace the filter/lid assembly (to help maintain water temperature), but do not push the filter down into the water. Let the coffee steep for three to four minutes. The coffee grounds will float to the top of the water and form a crust, known as the "cap."
Now, gently push the rod down, forcing the filter to the bottom of the pot. This will trap the coffee grounds against the bottom of the pot. The coffee is now ready to serve. Do not remove the lid and the filter until all the coffee has been poured from the pot.
Manual Pour-Over Method
The manual pour-over method is based on the same principles as the drip-brew method, but requires a few extra steps. You can make one cup of coffee at a time, or use a pot with a cone shaped funnel attached to the lid to brew an entire pot.
To make coffee by this method, grind the beans to the same consistency that you would use for the drip method. If you will only be making an individual cup, you may wish to grind the coffee slightly finer to expose more of the surface area of the bean. This will ensure a full-bodied cup. You will need to use a cone-shaped filter, of which two basic varieties are available: one holds a paper or cloth filter, the other has a permanent screen (usually gold plated). Place the filter directly on top of the cup and scoop in the appropriate portion of coffee.
Remember, if you are using an eight-ounce cup, you will need to use 2 1/2 to 3 level tablespoons of ground coffee. Slowly pour the water (195-200 °F) over the coffee. Wait for all the water to flow through the ground coffee. Remove the filter and the coffee is ready to enjoy.
Ed Arvidson is a senior consultant for Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup and an instructor at the American Barista & Coffee School