How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee

Perhaps no beverage is quite as beloved (or essential to beginning the day) as coffee. But even for those who consume it daily, what goes into making a great cup can seem like a mystery. To help us perfect our method, we asked Richard and Mindyjane Berman, the owners of Devon, Pennsylvania-based Pour Richard’s Coffee Co., to break down the basics. Here are the most important elements to consider, according to our experts:

  1. The number one key to a great cup of coffee is to buy freshly roasted beans—preferably directly from the roaster. Using beans within 21 days from the time they were roasted is essential, as after that amount of time coffee starts to oxidize, which creates a bitter taste.
  2. A high-quality grinder makes a great deal of difference. The goal is to get a grinder that generates a consistent particle size, since flavor is enhanced when the coffee is evenly immersed in water. If you’re going to spend money on your coffee-making equipment, this is where to invest. Baratza, a company based in Washington state, makes good grinders starting at $129.
  3. In terms of extraction methods, the Aeropress and French press will yield best results, as they allow for full immersion. Though each apparatus will produce an excellent cup of coffee, the Aeropress is preferable due to the paper filters it uses, which trap even small particles (as a bonus, it’s also reasonably priced). For those who appreciate the ease of use that a drip maker offers, Technivorm makes a good (though somewhat pricey) product, while Behmor’s Brazen model will give you the best bang for your buck.
  4. From a numbers perspective, keep your ratio of coffee to water in the ballpark of 16 to 18 grams of coffee per 8 to 10-ounce cup. And though less critical than the quality of your coffee or grinder, knowing the proper extraction time for the method you use—which is usually between 2 to 4 minutes—is also helpful.

TSG Tip 171 from Pour Richard’s Coffee Co. in Devon, Pennsylvania.