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The Best Drinks and Beverages

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee

It’s the best part of waking up, but there are a million ways to brew it. Here, 2012 U.S. Barista Champion Katie Carguilo, from Counter Culture Coffee’s training center, in New York City, spills the beans on her choice method.

Pour-over coffeeJamie Chung

The Right Equipment
Carguilo likes the clean, robust taste that comes from a manual dripper, since it filters out oil and sediment. And she’s not alone. As basic as it is, the pour-over has become the latest thing at gourmet coffee shops. Cone-shaped drippers work fine, but Carguilo prefers the flat base of the Kalita Wave (shown at right, $38; filters, $13 for 100: shop.wreckingball coffee.com). “The grounds lie evenly, so the water saturates them equally,” says Carguilo.

The Right Water 
If you don’t like the flavor of your tap water, use filtered or bottled.

Fresh Grounds 
Grind beans within a half hour of brewing. A burr grinder is ideal but pricey ($50 or more). It creates uniform grounds and prevents the coffee from ending up too weak or too bitter. For a manual dripper, medium size (similar to raw sugar granules) is best. (Learn how to choose the best gourmet coffee beans.)

Magic Ratio 
To brew 16 ounces of coffee (two big cups), use 5 tablespoons (or 28 grams) of coffee and 16 ounces of water.

Master the Pour-Over
Total brew time: 3 to 5 minutes

1. As your kettle heats, place a dripper lined with a paper filter on a mug or a carafe. Rinse the filter with hot water to get rid of paper dust and to preheat the cone.

2. Place ground coffee in the dampened filter.

3. After the water boils, wait 10 seconds for it to settle. Slowly pour just enough hot water (in a circular motion) to saturate all the grounds.

4. Pause 30 seconds to let the coffee “bloom.” It will bubble and soften.

5. Pour again, raising the water level to an inch above the grounds. Wait a few moments until
the water trickles through the dripper. Repeat this process of “pulse pouring,” which helps prevent overflow, until you have your desired amount of brewed coffee.

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Cold brewing, aka steeping roughly ground beans with cold water for at least 12 hours—makes these concentrates smoother and less acidic than the standard drip method. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks for delicious iced coffee at the ready.

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