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Brew like a champion

The health benefits of coffee are well-documented. The art of crafting a perfect cup - less so. Learn the six steps you need to know.

We get it: coffee is good for you. So what goes into brewing the world's best cup? Erin McCarthy of Counter Culture, who just scored a 1st place finish in the World Brewer's Cup—which he describes as “like the Olympics of coffee”—shares his winning secrets.

start with the right tools

“I’m a fan of pourover drip and French press coffee. If you choose the former, I like the Kalita Wave drippers, and for the latter I use an Espro Press: It has an extra-fine filter as well as a regular one, so you don’t end up with the sediment that you normally find at the bottom of your cup.”

choose the best brew for you

“If you like something tea-like—light and fruity—then you’ll generally like Ethiopian coffees. We have one now called Idido which has notes of honey and fruit, and a very perfumey aroma—it’s one of my favorites. For those who like chocolatey and caramelly coffees, try Colombian beans: our La Golondrina blend tastes like cherry and caramel, with a little citrus.”
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weigh your options

“If you care about coffee, why not spend $15 on a scale and weigh your beans before grinding them? Coffee geeks tend to think in grams, and the rule of thumb is that you need 1.6 to 2 grams of coffee for every ounce of water (1.6 for Americans; 2 for Europeans, who tend to like stronger coffee). So eight ounces of water requires 12.8 grams of coffee beans. This is about two tablespoons, but coffee beans have different densities so tablespoons aren’t precise.”
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use the right ingredients

“Not only should you use coffee within three weeks of when it’s roasted, but you should also grind the beans right before you brew them. If you’re using a pourover, grind the coffee so that it looks like a medium-coarse sand; if your coffee tastes weak you need a finer grind. For French-press coffee you need a coarser grind—about two clicks to the left on my Baratza Preciso grinder. I use water that has been filtered through my Brita, and pour it over the coffee just before it starts to boil.”
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take it slow

“Pour an ounce or two of water on top of your dry grounds and let it sit for thirty seconds. Then pour a couple of inches more, let it fall an inch, and repeat until all the water is gone. Be careful not to overbrew. A pourover’s brew-time is three to four minutes, and for a French press you need four to six minutes.”

forget milk and sugar

"Once you taste really good coffee, you’ll realize you don’t need milk and sugar—there’s no bitterness to temper if you make it right.”