The Science Behind Making the Perfect Cup of Coffee
It's the best part of waking up, but there are a million ways to brew it. Here, 2012 U.S. Barista Champion Katie Carguilo spills the beans on her choice method.
Beth Dreiling Hontzas
The Right Equipment
Carguilo likes the clean, robust taste that comes from a manual dripper, since it filters out oil and sediment. And she's not alone. As basic as it is, the pour-over has become the latest thing at gourmet coffee shops. Cone-shaped drippers work fine, but Carguilo prefers the flat base of the Kalita Wave. "The grounds lie evenly, so the water saturates them equally," says Carguilo.
The Right Water
If you don't like the flavor of your tap water, use filtered or bottled.
Grind beans within a half hour of brewing. A burr grinder is ideal but pricey ($50 or more). It creates uniform grounds and prevents the coffee from ending up too weak or too bitter. For a manual dripper, medium size (similar to raw sugar granules) is best. (Learn how to choose the best gourmet coffee beans.)
Read more: Where to Store Coffee: Pantry vs. Freezer
To brew 16 ounces of coffee (two big cups), use 5 tablespoons (or 28 grams) of coffee and 16 ounces of water.
Read more: How to Buy Gourmet Coffee Beans
Master the Pour-Over
Total brew time: 3 to 5 minutes
- As your kettle heats, place a dripper lined with a paper filter on a mug or a carafe. Rinse the filter with hot water to get rid of paper dust and to preheat the cone.
- Place ground coffee in the dampened filter.
- After the water boils, wait 10 seconds for it to settle. Slowly pour just enough hot water (in a circular motion) to saturate all the grounds.
- Pause 30 seconds to let the coffee "bloom." It will bubble and soften.
- Pour again, raising the water level to an inch above the grounds. Wait a few moments until the water trickles through the dripper. Repeat this process of "pulse pouring," which helps prevent overflow, until you have your desired amount of brewed coffee.