The Path to a Better Cup of Coffee
-Burr Grinders: It’s been said by many a coffee expert that you’d be better off with bad beans and a good grinder than a exceptional coffee and a shitty grinder. A bad grinder (like those cheap whirling-blade grinders most people use) breaks the beans down into particles of all sizes, meaning some will be over-extracted and some will be under-extracted, making for a very uneven cup of coffee. Good grinder means a burr-style grinder, which uses rotating plates to ensure the coffee is ground evenly (and without heating up and compromising the beans’ essential oils).
-Water: “It’s 90% of the drink, yet nobody really thinks about it,” says Drop Coffee barista Benjamin Norman. Before going to the World Barista Finals in South America last year, the team trained with a variety of different waters in order to get the perfect product. You’re looking for a relatively hard water, with a mineral content of at least 150-200 parts per million. Play around with tap, filtered and bottled waters to find what works best in your hood.
-Good beans: Look for suppliers that carefully source their beans and roast them in house. Single origin trumps blends anyday. In the US, Intelligentsia in Chicago, Stumptown in Portland, and Counter Culture in Durham are all world-class roasters.
-V60: Not only has it emerged as the most common single-cup brew system in the new coffee universe, but at $15-$20, it’s also the cheapest. The ceramic cone fits right over your mug and allows for a slow, controlled extraction that yields an exceptionally high-quality coffee. All you need is a filter (and, if you really want to get serious, a timer, a scale and a V60 kettle) and you’re ready to brew.