This is my second coffee brewing installment. I choose auto-drip because it is still the most popular brewing method for the average home coffee drinker (and yes I do include K-cups in the auto-drip category). The reason this is the most popular is largely because of the ease of use and the ability to automate the brewing process.
The truth is, there are a lot of bad auto-drip coffee makers and a few good ones. The main problem with most auto-drip coffee makers is that they don't get the water hot enough for proper brewing. A good number of them also tend to under-saturate the grounds. This is true for K-cups as well. One of the reasons I love manual brewing devices is that they are usually inexpensive, and produce much better results. A $20 auto-drip coffee maker and a $20 french press make vastly different coffee. To get a good auto-drip coffee maker you are looking at $100 at least, and top-of-the-line models are $220-300. The three companies that I like are Bunn, Bonavita, and Technivorm. Yes, your dad's Bunn is actually a pretty good coffee maker...mostly because it gets the water hot enough.
My personal favorite is from Bonavita which sells for around $170. It is a simple machine where the quality is put into the parts that matter and the rest are kept as cheap as possible. It consistently gets the water hot enough and brews into a thermal, glass-lined carafe, no need for a warming plate. This is one of the big problems with auto-drip coffee makers. The warming plate can really destroy the flavor of fresh coffee in a short amount of time.
1. Before you do anything, make sure your coffee maker is clean. If you can smell old coffee, it is not clean.
2. Rinse your paper filter before use to remove any residual paper flavor.
3. Grind to a medium consistency (use 1-2 tablespoons (7-15 grams) per 5 oz cup). Use good quality water. Run the brew cycle.
4. If your coffee maker has a warming plate, it is best to pull the brewed coffee and put it in a thermal carafe if you are not planning on drinking it immediately.
Note: If you are used to grinding your coffee the night before and setting the auto-timer you might try getting up a few minutes early and grinding your coffee just before brewing. You may be surprised at the results. Coffee will stale overnight sitting ground in your coffee maker.