For the past month — since returning from my Arctic cruise — I’ve been on a quest to brew the perfect cup of coffee. Too often, my coffee tastes like muddy water. I know that coffee can taste great because I sometimes get great-tasting coffee when I buy it elsewhere. But my own coffee has always been mediocre at best.

I use quality beans, so I know that’s not the issue. Corvallis has several places to buy good coffee beans, whole or ground. I tend to get mine from Oregon Coffee and Tea. My go-to is their Ethiopian yirgacheffe. And I’ve been using James Hoffman’s “ultimate French press technique”, so you’d think I’d get good results.

All too often, though, my coffee tastes bland. Or too intense. It’s never Just Right.

Well, last week I re-watched that Hoffman video and I realized that in the two years since I last viewed it, I’ve allowed my technique to drift. Hoffman’s method is:

  1. Grind ~30 grams of beans.
  2. Pour in ~500 grams of boiled water.
  3. Let sit for four minutes.
  4. Stir grounds (then spoon out anything that floats).
  5. Allow coffee to rest for six more minutes.

I’d bastardized these instructions over the past 24 months. I wasn’t measuring my coffee or my water. And, worst of all, I was stopping at step three. I let the coffee brew for four minutes, and then I’d pour it straight away.

Last week, I adhered to these instructions. My coffee improved drastically, but it still wasn’t what I wanted. Yesterday while Kim and I were downtown, I bought a bag of Vietnamese central highland light roast coffee beans. That seems to have been the final piece of the puzzle.

This morning, I brewed a perfect cup of coffee. It was delicious: mild and fruity and smooth. Yum.

8 Replies to “A perfect cup of coffee.”

  1. Greg Marra says:

    Have you tried an aeropress? If so, what are your thoughts?

    • J.D. Roth says:

      I have not tried an aeropress, although I have a friend who swears by it. Kim likes it too. And I know that James Hoffman likes the aeropress. But I’ve never even seen it in action. Have you tried one?

      • RichardP says:

        My mother and my girlfriend both use an Aeropress and they love it. One more thing you might want to consider to improve the taste is the type of filter. My girlfriend got a set of stainless steel filters for the Aeropress with varying holes/mesh size and the different filters change the flavor.

  2. Charlotte says:

    They can demo an AeroPress for you at stores like Williams-Sonoma or Sur la Table. If you are ever in the Cannon beach area, Sleepy Monk “monastery blend” is my all-time favorite.

    • Melissa says:

      Fellow fan of Sleepy Monk coffee here! I place an order every 2 months to ship beans to me up in Seattle and keep a Google doc updated with taste notes and preferences. 🤓 Favorites are Oregon Fog and Fiddler’s Fusion (and a +1 on Monastery Blend).

  3. Caro says:

    I’m not a fan of French press, I find it far too bitter. I have a aeropress and the coffee is delicious. It’s extremely simple to use and to clean. It travels well too.

  4. Dan W says:

    Give the Moka Pot a try as well. James has a number of videos on that device as well. It’s been my daily driver for 3+ years now.

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