A few key tools and small changes can drastically improve your beloved morning tradition of the first cup of joe to start the day. Here, Steve Kraus, founder and co-owner of Press Coffee, outlines how everything from water to mugs can affect your at-home coffee routine.
For the perfect cup, every detail can make a difference including water, beans and the equipment used. Since coffee is only water and ground beans, it is important to think about the water source. Coffee nerds will give specific ratios of dissolved solids in the water, but a more general approach is to use a R/O system or distilled water.
Next, choosing the right coffee. Find a local roaster in town that roasts specialty coffee and can guarantee freshly roasted coffee. What’s specialty coffee? Arabica coffee comes from what we call in our industry the “bean belt.” The coffee bean belt is where the world’s coffee is grown and is between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn – 23.5 degrees north and south of the equator. The coffee belt passes through some 70 countries including Costa Rica, Columbia, Brazil, Ethiopia and Indonesia. The tropical climates in these countries provide rich environments that are perfect for growing coffee and guarantee the best green beans leading to fantastic roasted coffee. But what really classifies coffee as “specialty” is a grading system similar to wine. Like wine, coffee is scored, and if the Arabica coffee scores between 80 and 100 points, it’s classified as “specialty.”
Now that the coffee is secured, the next step are preparing the tools. I’ve given this list to many friends and customers over the years. You’ll need the following: a scale, an electric kettle, a grinder, a Chemex (and filters too) and an amazing cup that you enjoy drinking from. At Press, we suggest Notnuetral as a premium mug. Grinders vary, but we suggest a conical grinder that grinds coffee more consistently. For the kettle, while a bit spendy the Stagg kettle from Fellow will be your best friend. When it comes to brewing, it is important that the water reaches a precise temperature of 203 degrees, and the Stagg helps not only reach that temperature quickly, but will also hold that temperature. The scale is another important tool to help ensure consistency every time you brew and finding a recipe to follow each and every time you brew. This will provide you a consistent cup of coffee day in and day out.
Lastly, the brewing method – I recommend using a Chemex. The Chemex is what’s called a pour-over method. The Chemex has a slender design and uses a dense filter which slows down the flow of water compared to other pour-over type methods. Coffee grounds are placed in the filter, and water is passed through slowly. The resulting brew is contained in the bottom of the vessel, ready to be served. Chemex filters slow down the rate of extraction and require a coarser grind. The coffee will extract for longer than drip coffee, which results in a better developed flavor. The various tasting notes in coffee are more obvious in Chemex brewed coffee. Following this process from beginning to end has proven to create the perfect cup of coffee to start any morning.