For coffee lovers, the pursuit of the perfect cup o' joe is never-ending
The Perfect Cup of Coffee
Prep Time: 6 minutes
Yield: About 20 fluid ounces
18 tbsp fresh coffee beans
36 ounces water
1 conical burr grinder
1 french press
1 candy thermometer
2 coffee cups
(1) Start with freshly roasted beans. Roasted beans stay fresh for less than 14 days - which means stay away from Starbucks! Roasting beans yourself is a lot of work, so contact a local roaster and find out when they roast their beans. We use Zabar's - they roast their beans on Monday, and deliver the beans to the store on Tuesday morning. On the Upper West Side, it's probably the freshest you'll find.
(2) Grind the beans right before brewing to maximize taste. We use a ratio of about 2 tbsp per 4oz of water
(3) Bring water to a temperature of 195 degrees. We use a candy thermometer to measure the temp.
(4) Use a french press. Flavor is extracted from coffee beans at an optimal temperature of 195 degrees. The best way to ensure that the water reaches this temperature at the time it comes into contact with the beans, is use a french press. Place coffee grounds into french press; pour water over top.
(5) Stir until grounds are evenly distributed. Using a non-metal stirrer will help guard against cracking the glass.
(6) Cover and let sit for 3 minutes.
(7) After 3 minutes, remove the cover and scrape off the coffee that has accumulated on top.
(9) Put the top of the press on and slowly push down to separate the remaining grounds from the coffee.
(10) Pour and enjoy!
Notes: Water quality is very important for coffee quality. I follow the same rule that holds for wine - if you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it. Tap water in NYC is excellent, but if you don't like the taste of your tap water, try using Brita-filtered or bottled water.
Also important is keeping your french press and grinder clean - residual oils from the beans start to break down and change the flavor (follow the instructions for cleaning your items).
Store beans in an airtight container - NOT in the refrigerator or freezer.
Coffee should be enjoyed immediately after brewing. It really only stays good for about an hour after it's brewed. Drip coffee makers with a hot plate continue to "bake" the coffee, giving it a burnt taste. To store for up to an hour, place in an insulated mug or carafe. Never reheat coffee in the microwave!
Following our process requires a small initial investment, but it pays off in the long run. We used to buy coffee from Starbucks every morning, for a total of about $4/day. We now go through a pound of whole beans each week, for around $7. Assuming the french press ($40), the burr grinder ($99), and the thermometer ($10) will each last 2 years, our daily cost for exceptionally better coffee is about $1.20. That's a savings of $1000 per year!