Death Wish CEO on how to make a perfect cup of coffee
I started regularly drinking coffee 15 years ago while I was an accountant for the State of New York. At this time, my days were dragging and I was having problems staying awake after lunch. I mentioned this problem to a buddy of mine — and he was surprised to learn that I didn’t drink a cup of coffee before starting the second half of my day.
The next day I approached the office coffee machine without hesitation and proceeded to pour myself the world’s worst cup of coffee. As nasty and watery as that cup of coffee was, it seemed to energize me for the rest of the afternoon and I was satisfied with the result. This horrible tasting coffee became my daily ritual and I was naively happy.
Then it happened…
I was traveling to see a friend and was treated with a cup of coffee that changed my life. It wasn’t watery or bitter. It had a sweet flavor that didn’t require any cream or sugar, along with rich notes of chocolate, dark cherry and a hint of almond. I didn’t know that coffee could have such a complex flavor, and damn was it strong. How was this beverage created? Why was I not aware of this sooner?
I immediately interrogated my friend who presented this life-altering gift. Where did these coffee beans come from? How was it brewed? What are your SECRETS!?!?
During the next 15 years, I quit working for the state, opened my own coffee shop, and soon created my own coffee company — Death Wish Coffee Co. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way, including a method of brewing what I believe to be the perfect cup of coffee (specifically, of course, Death Wish Coffee). Pay attention, the details matter here.
Here's how to make a perfect cup of coffee.
Fresh coffee is the most important factor here. Roasted coffee is at its optimal flavor is between two days and two weeks old if properly stored (air-tight dry container). If you want the freshest cup of coffee possible, buy whole bean coffee and grind it yourself. Which leads us into...
Not all grinds are created equal. Different brewing methods call for different grind settings. Generally speaking, the shorter the brewing method the finer the grind should be. For example, an extra coarse grind is best for cold brewing methods because it's brewed for a long period of time. Drip brewing methods, like your typical auto-drip coffee maker, are best with medium grinds.
[Related: Learn more about grind types here]
The type of water you use will greatly affect the taste of your brew. Filtered or bottled water is best for brewing. Coffee should be brewed at 200 degrees Fahrenheit — right before boiling point. Temperatures higher than 200 degrees can burn your brew and bring unpleasant tastes out of the beans.
Coffee to Water Ratio
This is quite possibly the most important factor! Your ratio is where most mistakes are made when brewing coffee. Most people brew with a 1 to 1 ratio, but the Specialty Coffee Association recommends 2.5 tablespoons per 6 ounces of water — and that's what we recommend for our products, too.
Brewing methods and equipment
Different brew methods will give you different tastes. If you're looking for one of the strongest brews out there, try a Chemex or a French press. If you want something convenient, try an auto-drip maker.
- Here's how to brew in a Chemex
- Here's how to brew in a French Press
- Here's how to brew in an auto-drip maker
When it comes to brewing methods and equipment, and extremely important factor is to keep them clean. Clean your auto-drip maker often, and learn how to do that here.
Everyone is different and preferences may vary — trial and error with brewing coffee is the best way to learn what you personally love. Mugs up!
Related: Why I love brewing in a Chemex
ENTER TO WIN FREE COFFEE: