Making the Perfect Cup of Coffee

The only reason to make the perfect cup of coffee is to enjoy the perfect cup of coffee. My life is filled with moments connected to coffee. Nothing was better than being in New Orleans and having a coffee at Café Du Monde. Or blitz chess at Seattle’s Best (while they were the best). And performing at a coffee shop on an Open Mic night with bad poets, mediocre musicians, and wannabe comedians.

These sentiments might not mean much to a person that doesn’t drink coffee (or tea), but I am sure you can find a parallel substance in your life. I am not talking about drinking coffee for the sake of drinking coffee, not the times you need it to wake up, but rather the experience of coffee. When you couple a perfect moment with the perfect cup, you create a truly great experience.

“It was a pleasant cafe, warm and clean and friendly, and I hung up my old water-proof on the coat rack to dry and put my worn and weathered felt hat on the rack above the bench and ordered a cafe au lait. The waiter brought it and I took out a notebook from the pocket of the coat and a pencil and started to write.”

Ernest Hemingway

I would rather have a brewed coffee or espresso vs. a latte or cappuccino. Certain large-scale coffee vendors have serialized the coffee drink to the point where coffee is second to sugar. A Cafe Americano (espresso plus hot water) is about the best value (but I noticed Starbucks raises the price $.35 every quarter). I am not a purist but I am in it for the coffee taste. I am so much not a purist that sometimes I say “Expresso” when I am in the company of those who take it too far. I like to miss use words and see the retractions, most just simply ignore me.

What are the ingredients of the perfect cup of coffee? I am going to conclude that the situation is just as significant as the actual cup of coffee. Take away the experience and it probably would taste as it tastes from a truck stop in North Dakota. When I am home I meticulously attempt to make the perfect cup of coffee using apparatuses from all over the world.

Here is my approach to the pursuit of the perfect cup:

  • Invite a friend (or better yet have the friend make your coffee)
  • Have a notebook handy for those best ideas
  • Mute the mobile
  • Grind a whole bean roast (French is one of the best coffee tastes)
  • Use a coarse grind for the French Press
  • Use medium grind for the drip
  • Use filtered water and ceramic mugs
  • Boil the water and then let it cool off for 2 minutes
  • Use a little of the hot water to warm up the carafe and cups
  • Brew in your preferred fashion (I prefer the Aeropress for dark roasts and the French press for lighter roasts)
  • Don’t overdo the steeping – bitterness is what most people don’t enjoy (bitterness is caused by overheating and over brewing)
  • Pour into mugs
  • Add warm milk if necessary (a Cafe Au Lait is equal parts coffee and warmed milk)
  • Create your moment and enjoy

It’s a lot of work that needs continual attention and improvement. A lot can go wrong, but the overwhelming ingredient is timing.

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