How to Make an Awesome Cup of Coffee

U.S. Champion Barista Katie Carguilo shares her advice for making a terrific cup of coffee.

1. Grind the coffee to the consistency of fine sand. The classic ratio is 1 ounce of coffee for every 16 ounces of water. If your mug is smaller than 16 ounces, adjust accordingly.

2. Heat the water. The ideal temperature for brewing coffee is between 195 and 205 degrees, so you can use the water right off the boil.

3. Rinse the filter. “Some people say you can taste the paper if you don’t do that,” says Carguilo. “I also like to do it because it warms everything up: It warms the brewer, and if you do it over the mug, it warms that, too.”

4. The first time you pour water over the grounds, let the coffee bloom: If you’ve used 1 ounce of coffee, for example, you pour on 2 ounces of water, and let it sit for about 45 seconds. “If your coffee is fresh, it should be bubbling,” says Carguilo. “One byproduct of roasting coffee is carbon dioxide; ideally most of that is being expelled now, so that later, when you add water, it can actually brew the coffee without a lot of gas getting in the way. The point of the bloom is to get the gas out of there, and also to get the coffee soft and ready to be extracted by the water. If your coffee’s really old and you don’t see those bubbles, it’s a bad sign.”

5. Pour in more water, a little at a time. “You don’t want to put all the water on the coffee at once,” says Carguilo, “or it will go through too quickly, and then your coffee won’t be as flavorful.” If you’re making one cup, this process should take around three minutes.

6. Once you’ve poured the appropriate amount of water through the coffee grounds, remove the brewer.

7. If you’re a coffee professional, slurp a small amount from a spoon while it’s still piping hot. “The idea with slurping is that you spray the coffee all over your palate so you get to taste it a little better. Introducing air turns a little bit of it into a gas, so you’re also smelling it,” says Carguilo.

I use an AeroPress at home for single cups and filling a thermos carafe in the morning. It takes maybe 15 minutes — start to finish — to make a great pot of coffee in this manner. Most of that time is waiting for the water to boil. A little bit less convenient than an automatic drip machine, but the resulting coffee taste is significantly better.

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