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How To Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee

My favorite brewing method that makes a delicious cup every single time. For patient people who enjoy quality and don’t need their coffee .03 seconds after waking up.

Karl Fredreckison
Credit: Karl Frederickson

The first thing you have to understand is that you can have the perfect cup of coffee anywhere.

At a diner trying to cure a hangover with strong stuff poured from a stained kettle; sitting across from a friend at a cafe, drinking a cappuccino; with dessert at a restaurant where dinner for two costs more than 100 bucks not including the tip.

That’s the situational perfect cup of coffee. It’s good because the circumstances dictate it should be good.

The second thing you have to understand — when you take away all outside influences, when it’s just you and the coffee —  is that the real perfect cup is perfect because of two things: the beans and how it’s prepared.

Here’s what you need to know about the beans:

  • They’re a fruit, which means they go bad after a couple weeks
  • They taste best between three and ten days after roasting
  • They crackle like popcorn when they’re being roasted and smell amazing
  • Most companies roast ahead, burn the beans, and don’t put a “roasted on” date on their bags. In other words, their beans are rarely fresh.

Bad beans equals bad coffee. Good beans equals half-good coffee. The rest depends on how you prepare it.

My preferred brewing method = Chemex

Here’s how I make the perfect cup of coffee at home every single day. Fair warning: this is not for the faint-hearted. It takes a little investment up front (in the form of buying quality materials) and about 5-10 minutes per morning to make. But damn is it worth it.

X steps to the perfect cup

  1. Invest in an electric kettle, a Chemex, filters, and a small scale. You’ll also want a stopwatch of some kind. (I use the one on my iPhone.)
  2. Buy freshly roasted coffee. Look for a “roasted-on” date—you want it within 1-2 weeks of when it was roasted.
  3. Measure and grind 25 grams of beans. This is key. I use a fancy Baratza Virtusoso, but you can get by with a hand-grinder. Aim for a coarse-salt-like consistency.
  4. Heat your water to 205 degrees. (This is where the electric kettle comes in handy.)
  5. Put your Chemex on your scale and put a filter into your Chemex. Take your kettle and pour a little hot water into the filter, getting it wet. (This removes a papery taste that can sometimes happen.) Pour the water out and place the Chemex back on the scale.
  6. Put your freshly-ground 25 grams of coffee into the middle of the filter. Give the Chemex a little shake to make the coffee grounds lay flat. Zero the scale.
  7. Set your stopwatch and pour 50 grams of water into your Chemex, evenly saturating the beans. Gently stir with a spoon to make sure there are no dry clumps. Wait 30 seconds.
  8. At the 30-second mark begin gently pouring the water in a spiral pattern, right into the middle of the beans.  Keep pouring like this until you’ve added a total of 400 grams of water.
  9. Wait.
  10. Your brew should be done between the 2:30 and 3:30 mark.
  11. Discard the the filter in the sink, swirl the coffee in the Chemex, then pour in to a cup.
  12. Enjoy.

Some damn good coffee beans To Try:

Black Coffee Roasting in my town of Missoula, MT.

Coava Coffee from Portland OR

Sightglass Coffee from San Francisco.

 What To Do NExt

If you enjoyed reading this, make sure to check out “Love and Coffee: How a Daily Cup of Coffee Improved My Relationship.”

Also, here’s a slightly different method of brewing with a Chemex, with photos and video: Stumptown Coffee Guide.