Five steps to a perfect cup of coffee


Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 1:14 a.m.
For those who buy just any brand of pre-ground coffee on the grocer's shelf and throw it in a percolator, mornings must be a bitter time. There is a better way, but it takes some doing. Finding freshly roasted beans requires shopping around. Folks who have cheaper blade grinders, which irregularly chop the beans and damage their flavor by heating them, will need to make an investment. But Nicholas Cho, president and head barista of Murky Coffee, says that real coffee lovers who follow his advice will notice a tremendous difference from the first cup. And they will never look back.
  • 1. Freshness matters. Buy whole coffee beans that, ideally, have been roasted within the previous two weeks. (Coffee starts to lose freshness and flavor immediately after grinding.) At the very least, check for a "best before'' date.
  • 2. Use an adjustable conical-burr grinder that evenly crushes the beans. Cho recommends the Solis Maestro, which retails for about $130.
  • 3. Use a brewing system that properly distributes the water to the grounds. (Check your brewer to see if the grounds are evenly wetted. If they are, you're in business.) Cho's favorites, both low tech, immerse the coffee directly in the water: any brand of French press, and a Danish-designed carafe called CafeSolo (see accompanying box), about $75.
  • 4. If your system lets you control water temperature, heat to between 195 and 205 degrees. (After boiling water, remove it from the heat and let it cool for 15 to 20 seconds.)
  • 5. Measure the correct amount of coffee: two rounded tablespoons per 6 ounces of water.
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