Jony Ive and his elite design team at Apple are coffee snobs. And rightfully so.
Coffee is the fuel that drives their brainstorming sessions, which are arguably the most important meetings in the design department. These sessions are where Apple has birthed some of the greatest products of all-time: the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad.
In this guest post by Leander Kahney (author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products), you’ll learn the secret coffee ritual performed by Jony Ive’s design team.
Remember: Apple’s standards are notoriously high. As is the case with their products, Apple’s coffee is not for those with meager budgets…or without Monk-ish tendencies.
HOWEVER, for almost every uber-expensive ideal, I’ve indicated the Poor Man’s alternative that I personally use. It’s not hard to cheaply get it about 90% right.
Enjoy the obsessive detail…
Jony Ive and his team work in a super-secure design studio on Apple’s campus in Cupertino, California. Locked behind a heavy door and lined with frosted glass windows, few are allowed to enter the inner sanctum, including some of Apple’s own executives.
The studio is Apple’s innovation factory — Edison’s lab at the heart of the company. You can tell it’s the brains of the operation from the hundreds of patents they file. Some of the designers are among the top patent holders in the world. The studio is where Steve Jobs hung out most afternoons before he died, working on new products with Jony Ive.
A team of about 20 designers work in the studio. Twice a week, the entire team gathers together for brainstorming sessions. The brainstorms take place around a large table in the studio’s kitchen.
The brainstorms are the key to how the designers work. “We can work with a level of collaboration that seems particularly rare,” Ive has said. “In fact, the memory of how we work will endure beyond the products of our work.”
The brainstorms are usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays, running for three hours — from 9:00 AM to roughly 12:00 PM.
Such marathon thinking periods would be impossible without coffee.
Before each brainstorming session, the team performs their sacred coffee ritual — a critical part of their workflow since the early 1990’s. Like everything Apple’s designers do, their coffee ritual is very precise. They have honed their technique to a science, adjusting the beans, the grind, the grain, and the pour to perfection. The resulting beverage boosts the team’s creativity to the max.
How to Make Coffee like Jony Ive
Step 1: Get a High-End Espresso Machine
Apple’s design studio is equipped with a high-end commercial-style espresso machine. For a long time, the machine was an Italian Grimac. But the $3,000+ machine leaked all the time and had to be constantly serviced by a technician. Yet it made heavenly coffee. Thanks to the studio’s ultra secrecy, it’s unclear if the same machine is in service or has been replaced.
Italian Grimac – Apple’s old machine
Good espresso machines come in all shapes and sizes, but smaller machines good for home use cost between $800 and $1,300.
Machines from European companies like Rancillo, La Pavoni, Pasquina, Bezzera (the company that invented espresso in 1905) and Gaggia are recommended. The 1,300 Bezzera BZ07 ($1,200) is highly rated, but the Kees van der Westen Speedster ($7,200) has been called the best home espresso machine ever.
Kees van der Westen Speedster: The best espresso maker ever?
If $1,000 is too steep, you can get an espresso-like experience using the AeroPress ($25), a cylindrical device that’s part-bicycle pump, part-French Press. As Tim details in The 4-Hour Chef, it’s the machine of choice for top professional baristas.
[NOTE FROM TIM: Here’s my 4-minute tutorial on how to make the perfect cup of coffee with an AeroPress:]
Step 2: Get a Good Grinder
The coffee grounds have to be perfectly uniform — each has to be exactly the same size – to allow the water to envelope the grain and extract the coffee. If the grounds are too big, the water will pass through too fast and you won’t get full extraction. If the ground is too small, powdery grains clog up the filter and the water won’t get through. It can also force coffee grains into the cup. Yuck!
The size of the grain is the most important factor in making perfect espresso. Therefore, a good grinder is of utmost importance.
A burr grinder uses two interlocking burrs to precisely crush beans into granules of exactly the same size. It’s like two stones milling flour, but on a micro level. The best grinders allow the gap between the burrs to be adjusted between 5 to 10 microns, which is about the size of a red blood cell.
A good stepless burr grinder is going to cost between $600 and $1,000. The Mazzer Mini Espresso Grinder ($640) is built like a tank and loved by espresso enthusiasts. However, you can get a hand-cranked burr grinder that works very well for $30 to $90. Tim uses Hario Mini Mill ($30), an easy-to-use conical grinder that’s adjustable (very important).
Every time you have a different type of coffee or different roast, the grind has to be adjusted. Sometimes the grinder has to be calibrated batch-to-batch of the same bean and roast.
Under no circumstances should you use a common household blade grinder, which chops the coffee beans with a whirling blade like a blender. What comes out is a powdery mess with all sizes of grain, both big and small. This is a coffee crime. The length of the pour can’t be controlled and it’s the easiest way to get a mouthful of coffee grains.
Step 3: Use Fresh Beans
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, one of the first things he did was jazz up Apple’s internal cafeteria, known as Caffè Macs. The chefs installed a coffee roaster that regularly delivers 5 lb. bags of coffee to the studio. The roaster is underneath Building 4 on Apple’s campus, and complaints of the overwhelming coffee smell forced the kitchen staff to roast beans on the weekend. A fresh batch is now roasted every Saturday.
Fresh beans are an essential ingredient for great coffee. Ideally, roasted beans shouldn’t be more than five days old. After five days, the beans start to deteriorate fast.
A good source of fresh beans is Tonx’s coffee subscription service, with plans starting at $12 monthly.
Tim uses mostly Blue Bottle and Intelligentsia beans.
Step 4: Grind the Beans and Load The Puck
The amount of coffee you put into the puck should be carefully measured using an accurate pocket scale, such as the American Weigh SC-2KG ($20).
Maintaining the right density is critical. If the coffee is too dense, the water won’t pass through. If it’s not dense enough, the water will pass through too quickly. Coffee purists argue about the right amount of pressure, but 30-ft/lbs has emerged as a popular standard.
The density of the coffee can be kept constant with the use of Espro’s calibrated tamper ($90), a steel pestle for packing coffee grounds into the espresso puck).
Step 5: The Pour
Here’s the tricky part. After grinding and weighing the grounds, packing it into the puck with 30-ft/lbs of pressure, you’ll need to calibrate the pour time.
The pour time must be constant, and it can’t be messed with. The optimum pour time is 28 seconds. It must not, under any circumstances, exceed 30 seconds.
Hit the start button, then time exactly how long the machine takes to make your first cup of coffee.
If the coffee is made in say, 18 seconds, the water is coming out too fast because the grains are too large.
If it takes longer than 30 seconds, the grains are too small. Go back and adjust the burr on the grinder.
Keep trying until you’ve made a cup that pours in 28 to 30 seconds — not a second shorter, and not a second longer. You can usually hone in on the right grain size in about three pours.
Step 6: Add Milk
Apple’s team was first introduced to high-end coffee by Daniele De Iuliis, a British designer of Italian descent. He taught the other designers about the importance of the grind, the crema, and how to properly froth the milk.
Espresso machines use pressured steam to foam a jug of milk. High-powered machines produce ample steam; the secret is good technique.
Most people don’t foam their milk correctly. Newbies foam it with air bubbles that are too big. Correctly foamed milk is actually “micro-foam” and is great for making patterns. If your barista makes a leaf on your latte, rest assured the milk was foamed correctly. If you see a barista banging the milk container on the counter, you know they screwed up and made the bubbles too big (banging the jug on the counter brings the bubbles up).
The most important factor is a chilled container ($10), preferably made of stainless steel. The pros keep their milk containers in the freezer. Milk foams before it boils, and a chilled container prolongs the foaming process by keeping the milk at the optimum temperature for longer.
Hold the steamer just below the surface of the milk. When the milk gets hot and the foaming stops, its time to take the steamer all the way to the bottom of the container. Keep steaming until the milk reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a small thermometer ($10) hooked over the lip of the jug to measure the temperature. [In a pinch, the milk is ready when the jug gets too hot to hold.]
Some recommend using full-fat milk, but the fat content of the milk doesn’t matter. In fact, low-fat milk foams just as well as creamier milk.
This video from Paul Meikle-Janney, Head Judge for the World Latte Art Championship, has some great tips and technique for getting foam right:
Step 7: Enjoy!
Making coffee like Apple’s design team is a complicated but fascinating experience.
Once you’ve mastered the process, an intoxicating aroma will envelop your entire kitchen (or office). Your morning beverage will become unbelievably rich and smooth, without a trace of bitterness. That is the right way to start off a productive day.
For Starbuck’s sake, they should hope Jony stays in the computer business.
BONUS: Do you have a great coffee tip? Tell us in the comments! Leander will be sending an AeroPress, the Hario Mini hand grinder, and a signed copy of his book – Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products – to the person who leaves the best comment.
Also, would you like to see more rituals of top performers? Let me know in the comments — anyone’s schedule in particular you’d like to see on this blog?
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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197 Replies to “Jony Ive’s Secret Coffee Ritual”
This is a great post. I’m glad it covers the grinder. Something that many people leave out of the equation.
Tip: Not really a tip but an awesome video we produced with Two Rivers Coffee on the V60 pour over method.
Awesome post Tim! I love your ability to extract the details of a process. I must go get some coffee now…
Great insight! Finally something Jonny Ives and I have in common 🙂
As a Colombian I was served coffee and milk (latte) since I was a baby. It’s part of my life and just like wine, it gives me great reasons to share moments with my family. Whether is a visit to our closest Nesspresso shop, a new machine that someone bought or a visit to a traditional Miami “ventanita” (window) for cuban coffee and a chat with the oldsters (it’s a word?!) Coffee and I were born together near the fields of Colombia, it’ll always be part of who I am.
When you get a chance there is a place called “El Parque Nacional Del Cafe” in the department of Quindio, Colombia. Everyone should experience coffee this way too! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Coffee_Park
Giving coffee to a child can stunt the child’s growth. Please do not continue this practice with your old children
Really mark? And your a pediatrician right?
Disregard Mark’s comment, Lina. He’s just repeating an old American rumor that never had any basis in fact. See here just incase: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/18/health/18real.html?_r=0
It’s true. I drank coffee since I was 1 year old and I’m exactly 5 feet tall. My three brothers are over 6 feet tall. However, I have red hair and my brothers have black. mmmm. The next-door man had red hair…
The best advice I ever got was that the pour should come out “like the devils tail”. That’s my secret to the optimal coffee.
For me one of the best things about Jony Ive is that he went to a normal secondary school in England, studied industrial design at Newcastle Polytechnic which at the time wasn’t even classed as a university and ended up as the world’s greatest designer at the world’s biggest company. Just goes to show you don’t have to come from a rich background, be privately educated and go to a big expensive university to be the best at your chosen field.
Fascinating post. It makes the mystique behind Apple’s processes even more mysterious. Well, at least we know great coffee is at the heart of their process!
P.S. – if you live in Orlando, I challenge you to find a better espresso pour than Vespr’s in Waterford Lakes.
Think I’ll gonna use Tim’s method first 😀
Hello from New Zealand!
I’ve heard about putting butter/ghee/coconut oil into coffee. What are your thoughts on that, and how does it tie in with the 4HB?
I’ve pursued good espresso (the only true coffee form) all over the world and have to say even with all the steps and expensive equipment above it helps to be in a small town somewhere in Spain bellied up to the bar about 930am. The barista/bartender brings your espresso in a tiny cup with a lemon peel, sugar and an equally tiny spoon. He walks to a huge vat of boiling oil and cuts me a length of fresh hot churro. i turn away from the bar gazing through the wide open doors onto the quiet narrow brick street,see the blue sky and hear the canaries and parakeets that hang in cages on the balconies of apartments above the shops. The smell of strong cigarettes, coffee and the cooking oil plus several large pots of blooming geraniums all make for a memory of sent, taste, smell and sound like it was this morning not 40 years ago.
My tip is really simple. For the last 6 months we’ve had an AeroPress. We used to use a French press. Before that, we’ve tried numerous “home espresso” machines. We’re done with that.
The AeroPress is perfect. BTW, you can play with the beans and the coffee/water ratio. Use espresso beans, a little less coffee and water and more air in the press, and you can push out a pretty good espresso. The tip? Save about $7,000 and a lot of fuss. Just get an AeroPress for about $35. Use the $7,000 for airline tickets. Take the AeroPress wherever you go like Tim says. Try to get decent water – it does matter. Done and done!
I love having a ritual in the morning. Taking time to craft a perfect cup of coffee tastes great, obviously. But the process itself is meditative.
I live alone, and make pour over style coffee most of the time. I occasionally end up with excess coffee beans that begin to go stale. Rather than sacrifice the quality of my morning cup, I do two things:
1 – make a batch of cold brew and keep it in the fridge
2 – take some whole beans, place it in a cup or bowl, and put tea candle in the center. Lighting the candle releases a great coffee aroma throughout your space!
Agreed! I enjoy coffee, but the ritual of creating the perfect cup in the morning is the best part; grabbing a cup of Starbucks just can’t compete
One important factor that was missed on this was the cup – a lot of glass and plastic cups take on the flavor of previous pours regardless of how clean you get them. The best cup that I’ve found with the minimal of residual taste is an authentic ceramic mug – I still end up recycling them every few months.
baking soda + plain vinegar = foam > add hot h20 > scrub away residuals. This is common restaurant wisdom + glass nice shiny
I use the inverted method with the Aeropress it makes a very nice frothy cup of coffee.
It’s interesting how different countries have different tastes in coffee. In Australia, we have a taste for strong Italian style coffee, made like is described here. I found when I was in the US, it was really hard to get a coffee made the same way. There was lots of Starbucks style sugary, milky coffee, I just assumed that was what the US market likes.
In the UK, I found you better just stick to Tea as they made their coffee taste more like tea than coffee.
I would like to know what Italians think of other countries coffee?
Sir Jony Ive is a moron and idiot and a cretin who has destroyed apples pleasant ease-of-use graphical user interface. He should not be adulated in articles but he should be hung in the Square tarred and feathered.
Normally I don’t attack people but here I have to agree. Ive is a narcissistic idiot. You just have to look the way he behaves and talks to people. Arrogant self-adoring fanatic. I don’t know much about his work with apple sense I’ve never owned one, but from what I’ve seen from his other designs I would put him little above average. I know much, much better designers which are very down to earth people and it’s just pleasant to be around.
Plus to be a designer is not so special in the first place. Guys like Tim here for example are people which are to be much more admired for their work, but they don’t seems to draw much pleasure from that compared to John Ive.
It’s possible to make perfect microfoam at home with just a microwave and an electric whisk. Microwave your milk until it’s the right temp, stirring it every 30s to make sure it heats evenly. Then take your electric whisk (little battery powered ones are perfect – £2 from ikea) and place it just below the surface of the milk and turn it on. Adjust the height as follows: higher to froth more (you will hear the noise of air being forced into the milk), lower to mix the milk. Once you have air in the milk you can mix it for a long time to get all the bubbles to break down into microfoam, since you’re no longer heating it. Play around until you get the hang of it. I can make milk as good as any steam wand like this, and draw intricate free-poured latte art with it. Admittedly I’m a professional barista, but anyone can do it with practice.
@Pete Good tip. You’re a contender for the prize.
So now I know why iOS 7 is so ugly and tasteless… just stay away from coffee, folks! 😉
Paul Chek recently loaded a great video on how to make an espresso, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxdNh8ETo_4&feature=c4-overview&list=UU2Y7Tgj2RR6Z5zxZZYYWoKg
One can see his passion for coffee come through the video!
If you would like to froth milk on the go, use an Aerolatte. It’s a battery powered super-speed whisk that can bring even more civilization when you are on the road or camping. I use a Pyrex measuring cup to heat the milk in the microwave at home, but a Jetboil stove can be used when out in the woods. White Chocolate Mochas on a climbing trip? Hell yeah!
Living in China makes it a bit more difficult to find good coffee. Luckily I was able to becomes friends with a fellow expat who has his own coffee business. So I am able to get freshly roasted beans delivered to my apartment cheaper than I can buy a bag at Starbucks.
I use the Aeropress and a handheld burr grinder as it provides a wonderful cup of coffee. I also can use it anywhere (camping, plane, train)!
It’s very important to make coffee that comes from a single source and is water processed. Most coffee are blends and are loaded with mico toxins which you don’t want in your system. Go single source to assure a competitive edge for years to come. I have more tips for the ideal cup but I would have to share those in person.
Where did you find that awesome tamping stand?
I’ll save myself hundreds of dollars and hours and just have a 5 hour energy, prove me wrong on what the difference is on getting the creative juices going?
Coffee is far more enjoyable though.
The problem with 5-hour energy is the workday is 8 hour long. 🙁
Coffee… mnnmnn. It turns out, coffee is loaded with polyphenols, anti-oxidant chemicals that fight damaging free radicals, which are implicated in many of the diseases of aging. So it is good for much more than just keeping you awake 🙂
Coffee having antioxidants is one if the great myths people use to justify their addiction. It is well known that the antioxidant is from the vapors in the brewing process, not the bean. As someone who used to drink coffee and now clean for a long period, I can assure you that coffee only corrects for withdrawal symptoms that it itself created. I suggest reading the book Caffeine Blues.
First time commenter, long time reader.
As a coffee aficionado, I really enjoyed your post. I was turned on to the science of coffee in the 4HC, and have since kept a coffee log to replicate experiments using an Aeropress. What’s more, I’ve recently experimented with the Vinturi aerator, and I must say, it seems to have a positive effect; if only to make me feel a bit like Heisenberg (aka Walter White), but I digress… However, despite my love and search for the perfect cup of coffee, my tip is short, simple, sweet, and true.
*TIP: The most important (and potent) variable in a perfect cup of coffee, is the company you find yourself in when drinking it.
That’s all. Thank you for posting, and thank you for reading.
If I may add another tip:
When using the Aeropress (particularly for travel), use a 400mL PYREX Beaker as your cup — here are 5 reasons why:
1. It has graduation marks, for pouring the preferred volume of water.
2. The glass cools down the water to an optimal brewing temp (175 – 180°F, mentioned in the 4HC), much faster than leaving it in the kettle.
3. The beaker allows for a slow and even pour, over the coffee.
4. It warms up the beaker, so you can press coffee back into it, drink from it, and keep the coffee warm for an extended period.
5. You’ll look like a mad scientist! That’s truly the only reason I use it. But it does have those other benefits (particularly for travel). Enjoy.
Thanks, Matt! Totally agreed.
Tim (and Matt):
A couple of follow-up tips for you based on your approval of using a Pyrex chemistry beaker (and from watching your Jimmy Fallon video where you weigh everything as you go.)
1ml of water = 1g. Beakers are typically labeled +/- 5%, so a 400ml beaker’s 200ml line could be anywhere from 190ml to 210ml.
If you’ll be traveling with the same beaker all the time, weigh out 200g of water and see where it falls on that specific beaker compared to the 200ml line (you can either make a mental note, or mark it with a grease pencil or rubber band, etc.) From now on when you travel you can just fill to that mark and know you’ll have exactly 200g of water.
As for the 12g of coffee. I’ve not used one of the hand-grinders before, but for most beans of similar size you can count the number of grinds it takes you to reach 12g. Let’s say it’s 100; use a grease pencil and put that number on the outside of the grinder. Now you can just grind that many times on that setting and know you’ll be fairly accurate “on-the-go” without needing a scale for the areo-press method you show in the video.
Hope to try that method soon, best of luck!
The Hario mini mill is a great affordable grinder option, it is a slow process though.
Occasionally (when time is short) I opt to leave the crank handle in the cupboard, pull out my Makita cordless drill (with the speed set to 1) attach it to the top of the Hario grinder, which fits perfectly where the handle is supposed to go and daaa-daaaaa perfectly ground coffee in 1/2 the time it takes to hand grind!
@Marc Also a good tip. The manual grinders are much cheaper than the automatic electric ones, and this sounds like a good way to get the best of both worlds.
I think it’s fascinating that the process is just as important as the product. This is evident at Apple, and would be awesome to mimic at a local level at our own “kitchen table.”
I would suggest to ground coffee beans with cardamom seeds. To make the process easier, look for ground organic cardamom at your local Whole Foods store. Mix ground cardamom with ground coffee, adjust the amount to your taste, add some sugar and do not add milk.
What an amazing post– makes me want to go make a perfect cup right now! (Even with the imperfect tools in my arsenal, I can get close!)
The best coffee tip I’ve learned came from a friend working at my choice for D.C.’s by-far best place for a great cup, Northside Social, about how to store my beans: I can’t get fresh roasted beans as often as I’d like, but he recommended storing any beans I’m not going to use in the next few days in the freezer and (this is the bit I needed help on) taking them out the night before I brew so they can return to room temperature, as cold beans mess with the extraction and kill the crema. Works like a charm, and if I can’t get them immediately after roasting, it at least keeps the brew good until I can.
I agree on this – tho if they are sealed, beans will last longer than a week (once the bags open, its a different case, and you DO need to leave them for a day or 2 after roasting)
I have a Rocket Espresso Evolution 2 – http://www.rocket-espresso.it/ – best machine I’ve owned or used by a LONG LONG distance. Cost about £1400 or so. But the Rancillio Silver, for around £500, is one of the best bang-for-buck around if you dont want to spend crazy money.
You should also check out http://www.chucksroast.com for premium freshly roasted beans.
Your water quality matters! Invest as much in a reverse osmosis water system as your daily demands require. We were able to get a 50 gallon per day system installed for about $350 at our home and it made all the difference in the quality of our shots. It also signifincantly reduces how often you have to descale/clean your machine (which wasn’t touched on above and is also very important and relevant to the quality of your shots). Enjoy!
The use of a purified or mountain water is paramount to a great cup of coffee
Get the chlorine out chloramines and fluoride
Do not use softened water
A pur filter works well or Fuji water as you want minerals
to remain like magnesium because they make water and coffee less bitter
Taste better then distilled water which will taste acidic because are mouths are alkaline and this and is true of coffee as well
Great water equals great coffee
RO water lacks the minerals that make a better alkaline coffee
I have a tiny hack to add to Tim’s method with the Aeropress:
As soon as you hear air and bubbles begin to rush out of the Aeropress, immediately move it over to a separate cup and finish the press.
Most of the bitter tannin compounds will be in this final pressing, which you can discard. If you compare the cups, you can easily tell that the bitter aroma of the last few seconds of pressing almost smells like cigarettes – leaving a clean, delicious cup of coffee in the primary cup.
I no longer chase the coffee dragon, but my girlfriend simplified her coffee ritual significantly when she moved to a simple electric kettle plus aeropress.
A small productivity tip: by duplicating this system in her office she can avoid the breakroom, and therefore avoid getting ambushed into ad hoc meetings.
I’ve switched to a percolator after years of using both drip and fresh press. I’m able to make larger pots of coffee, keep it hotter for longer, and get smoother/more consistent coffee.
Best coffee tip, regardless of how you make it, is to take notes about the right amount of beans/grid, water, how long it brewed. Change each variable until you find the best way to make each batch.
Regarding Aeropress, plastic electric kettles make water taste bad. Steel is great. Best is stove top, if possible.
For travelling, a mini Porlex grinder is great, fits in the Aeropress chamber making things compact.
I don’t know if using a popcorn maker is a viable option for the freshest roasted beans at home? Put in some green coffee and roast them for a while.
Marc Maron roasted coffee beans using a popcorn roaster!
The Whirly Pop is not a uni-tasker by any means! It can do cacao, nuts, etc.
Great post – I enjoy great coffee but a good cup must be included – I drink from a nice big cup that I can hold with both Hands
Awesome – would love more rituals
No tip, but I just ordered the AreoPress and Hario Mini Mill. Can’t wait to try them! I love me a perfect cup of Joe!
I’m an espresso lunatic so here’s my highly subjective opinion about coffee, coffee machines, and rituals.
The machine I have is the Gaggia Accademia, which is a superautomatic espresso machine. Essentially it means that the machine does pretty much everything for you at the push of a button. If you have a busy schedule/life (and while the above coffee ritual is absolutely spot on), I believe a superautomatic is the most efficient way to create amazing coffee.
The coffee I use is Illy coffee medium roast from Trieste, Italy. In my opinion, it is the best coffee in the world. Check out this documentary on Illy if you have 45 minutes to spare on YouTube. The science and technology Illy utilizes to make a simple cup coffee alone may convert you: http://youtu.be/-KRtme4fpXA
The milk based drinks are also automated. When I make a Latte Macchiato or a Capuccino with the Accademia, I like to call it the “Gaggia Show”. Steam is shooting in the air, milk frothing, coffee grinding and pouring…it’s an amazing display of technology.
While monthly maintenance is required on the machine (weekly for me given the enormous amount of espresso I drink), the Gaggia Accademia is the best investment I have made for my coffee (and also the most expensive).
10 steps to the best cup of coffee
1. always use a press – filters take away the oils which add a whole dimension to the coffee.
2. don’t use beans that have been exposed to oxygen for more than 7 days.
3. “blonde coffee’s have more caffeine than darker roasts so adapt your coffee to the occasion and time of day
4. use triple filtered water to taste the coffee and not the chemicals in your local water.
5. If you are going to put milk and sugar in your coffee…..go hang out with the tea drinkers in the next table
7. pair your coffee with an appropriate dessert. more acidic coffee pair with citrus desserts, dark coffees with chocolate, cinnamon and nutty flavors
8. buy your coffee from a local independent roaster or if you buy it from a national coffee house, make sure the date on the coffee has not expired
9. experiment with different roasts to find out your favorite flavours and expand your palate
10. become a coffee snob, and don’t settle for crap in your cup and in or any other aspect of your life!
Being a busy work-at-home mom, I look at your coffee processes and feel like the woman in the famous video … I don’t have time for that. However, I love great coffee. I prefer the coffee toddy method which was used widely in Louisiana in the 70s and 80s. The region is known for their love of good coffee. Take a great roasted bean which has been ground for drip method. Place 1/2 pound of coffee together with 1/2 gallon of your purest room-temperature water in the brewing container for about 12 hours. I have left it steeping for up to 24 hours with no negative result. At the end of the steeping period. place this container on top of a carafe, and pull the drain plug. Your coffee extract slowly drains through a 1/2 inch thick filter over the next hour or two. While this part of the process is exceedingly slow, the rest of the process is incredibly fast. Simply seal your carafe tightly, and keep it in the fridge. For the perfect cup of coffee, add two tablespoons of the extract to a cup of hot water, drink and enjoy. This extract can also be used for a wide variety of purposes where ever coffee flavor would be enjoyed (think ice cream and baked goods). There is never a hint of acid or bitterness in this coffee. Even those who love coffee, but can’t tolerate the acid, have no problem with coffee toddy brews. I’ve enjoyed this way of drinking coffee, without all the pomp and circumstance, for a really long time. I hope you do, too.
@Judy What a fascinating method. I’m definitely going to try this!
Really enjoyed this piece, and I don’t even drink coffee! Would love to learn of more rituals that set people up to achieve the outcomes they’re after. Some people that I would be interested in reading about: Louise Hay, Lady Gaga, Martha Beck, Alison Armstrong, Mark Nepo, David Whyte, David Deida and Gary Zukav.
I like my coffee raw. Fresh roasted beans, dark and espresso-ready with hints of fruit and promises of sunshine. Finely ground. Placed in a portafilter, and tamped with care. I like my coffee under pressure. The steam a steady build, the sound of waiting so patiently for that first drip. A slow stream builds, filling a petite little thrift store espresso glass that looks like the undersized coffee cup of a midget or the mug of a shy 10-year-old who doesn’t like hot beverages. So I switch on the steam. Into a metallic mug of milk shoots hot H20 molecules – billions of them in their most excited state of matter. I’m pretty high-energy now too, anticipating that first taste as the milk builds to it’s frothy form. Satisfied with the process, I pour off some foam into my favorite little espresso cup. The foam joins my fine bean-vs-water aftermath, marking my morning treat: a marked espresso. Macchiato.
I like my coffee raw – coffee that’s not really coffee but rather the finest in artisanal morning drink preparation. Marking my espresso with that dab of milky perfection adds a tipping-point element of style that sets both my drink and me apart. I sip at sunrise as I reflect and realize.
Today is going to be a good day.
Great post. Also, would be amazing to see Arnold Schwarzenneger’s schedule here if possible!
The only bad part about this post is I’m reading it at night and will have to wait until morning to play with some new coffee ideas!
My tip: use a ceramic mug, preferably a gorgeous handmade piece. Before you pour your coffee in, pour hot water in to heat the mug. Discard that water. Once your coffee is made, take a deep breathe and savor the moment while you give thanks. Don’t multitask your way through that moment, just savor it.
I missed the part where all this work somehow translates into good products…maybe Ives and his team are just talented and they are snobs about coffee, coincidentally?
There is no correlation. Some people go for a run in the morning and eat healthy. Others are sedentary and rely on coffee. Nothing ages a human like coffee. The dehydration, the poor absorption of minerals, the low quality sleep (No stage 4 sleep for caffeine addicts), the heightened anxiety and stress, the sweats…coffee, like alcohol is a surefire way to rapid aging. it’s probably also spurred the anti-anxiety and antidepressant industry as people look for a way to sedate themselves from all of the unnatural stress it has introduced.
My technique is WAY easier. I just use instant. From the dollar store. And I don’t measure. Just eyeball the amount of coffee. If it’s too strong, add water. If it’s too weak, add more coffee. The best part is that instant coffee also dissolves in cold water. I can still drink coffee even if I don’t have access to hot water. 🙂
I know, I know. My friends think I’m nuts too. I used to have a French Press. A friend borrowed it and never gave it back. And I didn’t have a burr grinder, so the coffee wasn’t great anyway. I remember seeing the Aeropress on Amazon like 10 years ago, but never got around to buying one.
No, I’m not kidding. Tim, you can find me on FB via my email and check my timeline from mid-September. Posted a pic of my cold instant coffee while waiting for gas company to arrive at new house.
I’d love to see the rituals of Richard Branson and Bono! Great stuff; keep it up:)
Simple add. Pad of butter.
there is this great series of videos from a guy called Paul Bassett, he really dives into everything important about coffee, he is an australian barista champion.
You have gone this far, the next step comes in roasting the beans. Variables are there too but a fresh roast provides another step up from even a few days old beans. Thanks.
Awesome post!! There are few things in life more fulfilling than a good cup of DIY coffee.
Speaking of cups, here is my tip…
A freshly ground, well extracted, and otherwise perfect cup of coffee can be ruined by a cold (straight out of the cupboard) cup. Accordingly, whether you are using a AeroPress or a Speedster, it’s important to warm the cup properly. No big deal, just fill up your cup with boiling/hot water before you pour your coffee and let it sit for at least 10 seconds. It’s a good idea to leave about 10mm of space between the water and the rim of the cup…Don’t burn my lips, bro. Voila, a warm vessel for your perfect brew. For those pouring latte art, a warm cup also seems to help with surface tension on the pour.
Speaking of designers, I’d love to see the rituals of top auto designers who deal in part with art but also the many constraints and requirements of regulations and manufacturing.
Great article. The one tip I have is that regardless of how excellent your coffee is, it is wasted unless you put the same amount of time, thought and care in to enjoying it. Good taste and great design deserve your undivided attention and time.
I believe that the power in coffee is not the caffeine or any other chemical makeup but the act of doing with deliberation. It can be very zen. A great quote, if I do say so myself:
Zen is not to think about god whilst peeling potatoes, Zen is just to peel potatoes.
It’s about making the coffee–the ritual and the act of doing.
I love that aspect of making coffee. It can be soothing. I admit though, for my daily coffee that I don’t take that time. I am one of those horrid Keurig users because I’m lazy and just not sure what really good coffee tastes like. I’m a Starbucks drinker too. I’m and average American when it comes to coffee and probably don’t even belong on this post!
That said, maybe if I start investing the time into my coffee, my coffee (or act of making coffee) will help me become more centered in the morning.
Well if I could have it my way, I would probably just cook the coffee beans up in a spoon and then inject the whole lot into me, or I imagine thats what people think of coffee junkies like myself. I would very much love to sip a cup of the finest Java like Ives and Jobs did back in the day, unfortunately I cannot afford such luxuries yet so I will take it just about anyway I can get it, even if we have to smash the beans with a hammer, strain them from a sock and drink it from clay pots, as was the case during my last trip to Cuba. I would rather not talk about it.
But if I were to talk about a usual day’s coffee ritual, it would go something like this.
1. Crawl out of bed at 8am, attempt to put on clothes and slide down the stairs before zombieing into the kitchen. (yes I made up a word).
2. Grab the can of no name coffee grinds and dump a carefully measured quarter-handful into a makeshift frenchpress made from a mug, a small cup with one of those tea leaf diffusers stretched over it.
3. Boil the water three times. Not because it does anything special but because I have ADD and was distracted by an article on how to hack kickstarter and a video of goats that scream like humans.
4. take a Zantac 150 to prevent the searing pain of the coffee rotting my ulcer while I pour the boiling water into the press.
5. load up my pre-heated mug up with double double cream and sugar (I’m canadian) to mask the terrible taste of the no name coffee
6. Press the grinds into the bottom of the press and pour the steamy brown gold into my mug while smelling it like I’m about to make love to it.
7. Reheat the damn thing 5 times before I finish it because I was incredibly wrapped up in designing the Swag Bombs for this month’s marketing campaign.
8. Give up and finish it cold while attempting to stay focused on work
Thats basically it, how I start practically every morning. What I would give to share a cup of joe with Ives and Jobs back in the day, too bad…
Still, I could really use that machine 😉
@Richard Great tips for ordinary mortals!
My friends along Colombia’s Caribbean coast would find all this equipment and fuss mystifying and funny. And the prices for these items would send them reeling given their straitened circumstances.
On my two visits to that amazing country this past year, I’ve been treated to wonderful coffee brewed at home, in Cartagena de Indias and in Santa Marta, in the following fashion by these humble yet proud and passionate and warm people:
Coffee ground to almost a cocoa-like powder is purchased from the corner store in small, unmarked clear plastic packets. The coffee aroma is strong.
Portions of said coffee are stirred into water slowly being brought to a boil on the stove in a simple saucepan. No filter in sight.
At the boil, the heat is turned off and the rich-smelling brew is poured into a thermos through a strainer. There’s your filter.
Cane sugar is added, and there it is: Colombian coffee prepared by Colombians in a Colombian home kitchen for the enjoyment of Colombians and their gringo house guest.
The only modifications I’ve made to this method since returning home from my second Colombian adventure are twofold. I grind my own beans to a fine consistency using my Kyocera ceramic hand grinder from Amazon, and then I place the ground coffee into a reusable, or permanent, stainless steel filter that I drop into my saucepan.
Same result. Rich, delicious, fragrant, and satisfying coffee.
@H Brandt Gotta try this too. Sounds delicious.
I’d like to see the morning “straight out of bed” rituals of top performers e.g. drinking lemon and water, stretching, exercising, meditating, self talk etc.
P.S. Australia has the best espresso coffee in the world. Hands down. Thanks in no small part to all the amazing Italians who moved here.
I appreciate the terrific science behind the precise brewing technique in the post – it is Alton Brownesque, and I like that! I’m sure it produces something amazing.
But sometimes I find a lot of beauty in simplicity as well. It still requires a little more fuss then throwing some Folgers in a Mr. Coffee with a paper basket filter or Running on Dunkin’.
My tip is a modified “cupping” technique that professional coffee tasters use:
That is to add your grounds to a vessel and add the hot water to the grounds. Let sit for x amount of time and then strain into a clean vessel that had previously been kept warm with hot water that has been discarded.
Play with the ratios of ground coffee to water to time until you get what YOU like to drink. It’s like wine, it’s very personal and there should be no “rules” but some guidelines can be found here:
I also understand my method does not produce “espresso”.
“Cold Brewing” is another good method. But that’s “another show” and entirely different cup of coffee.
I’m waiting for Dave Asprey to give his tips ; )
My daughter, who is working full-time and taking college classes, loves coffee and espresso above almost all else and would adore receiving the book, Aeropress, and grinder for Christmas. She is struggling to afford school, and I had to move to Alaska to find a job (a costly move, to say the least). I will be e-mailing this article and video to her and also pinning it to the board I have created for her interests in Pinterest, if possible. Please choose us to receive these goodies, as it would also have the effect of making me the coolest mom ever! Thank you – Laura in Anchorage, Alaska
Rituals, in my view, are like a warm up to perform. Consider that each great performer, Johnny Ives in this case, doesn’t jump out of bed and produce iconic products, nor does everything he create turn out iconic. The coffee ritual, I think, gets his mind and body in tune to create the next ‘can’t live without’ item.
We all have rituals, perhaps the more intense we are about them, tells us something about who we are, and what we are likely to produce today.
Good post. My only critique of it is that while this is the Ive’s super-secret ritual for the perfect latte, every barista worth his salt in any café in the world know this. I do however love their respect for the art of fine coffee.
One does not have to stop at home brewing, but can further their love of coffee by home roasting.
I have both the Behmor 1600 and the iRoast-2 (no longer made, but you can find used). Roasting a coffee bean gives you insight into the HUGE variation you can create in flavors with the exact same origin bean by different roasting times, different roasting temperatures, and the like. A roast “recipe” or formula is a “roasting profile.” There is more variation in this than in pulling a shot of espresso or brewing a cup of coffee.
The great news is that green beans are a LOT cheaper than roasted ones and can be shipped around the world. So, even people in remote locations can have a superb bean to go with the wonderful equipment discussed in this article.
If someone wants to try roasting coffee beans to explore just how phenomenal fresh coffee is, they can simply use their popcorn popper. They put a small amount of green coffee beans in and roast till they’re a nice cinnamon color. Leave to sit out for 24 hours (it’s important to degas the beans).
Now the picture for reproducing Apple is complete.
That’s great Tim. Never though of making coffee in such fascinating way. i guess we should start something like this for our brand as well.
I find this post to be good & also bad.
It is aimed at newbies to coffee which is fine as it covers a lot of the basics very well.. Something that annoyed me and annoys me a lot in the sale of beans is people asking for “freshly roasted coffee” as if something that is roasted the same day will be ‘the best’. This is not true at all. Coffee beans, dependent on roasting profiles, will have optimum ageing times. We age our current house blend coffee beans for 9-10 days before use in the cafe as that happens to be the optimum time for that bean & its profile.
By saying you CAN’T have coffee after 5 days when it has been roasted is bullshit. The first 36 hours it will be incredibly gaseous and will make horrible espresso (on the contrary, it will work well with an aeropress or chemex!). Most coffee beans, if freshly roasted to a medium level, will require 6-10 days to age and release most of their gas to extract the best espresso.
Lastly, the coffee machine you put as the best machine in the world (is an awesome machine) but there is a new ‘top-of-the-market’ machine called the Slayer which allows incredible adjustment to temperatures during brew time and lets you play with nearly everything involved in the coffee brewing. (http://www.slayerespresso.com/pictures/)
I understand that this is a guest post but it should be factually correct rather than making more people believe that coffee beans roasted today are good today 🙂 and then more customers coming in asking for coffee roasted today.
I love any post on coffee & learned something so am happy! 🙂
Oooh the Slayer! I haven’t yet made it to the locations here in Seattle that have them but I want to SO BAD! I’ve heard nothing but raves about them.
I would agree with the comment about the Slayer. It is an incredibly well made machine. However, considering how temperamental it can be it takes an very good barista to use it well. I would probably recommend a Synesso instead, I’ve worked on one for awhile and it makes a good cup of coffee consistently, which I think is mostly due to its temperature stabilization technology (unlike most Wegas and San Marcos which tend to run a little hot).
Most good roasteries in Wellington (NZ) and Melbourne tend to leave their freshly roasted coffee for 3 days to de-gas (so 36 hours is probably about right). And then its delivered every week, so its usually not used much after 10 days or so.
Love it! Check out this Apple latte art one of our baristas poured…
Hello, thx for the very nice and useful post!
My tip for a good coffee would be … make a nice cup of coffee and ad a ball of vanilla ice on top. very creamy and tasteful!
Like life … easy and simple.
have a nice day and a good cup of coffee – Frank
The use of a purified or mountain water is paramount to a great cup of coffee
Get the chlorine out chloramines and fluoride
Do not use softened water
A pur filter works well or Fuji water as you want minerals
to remain like magnesium because they make water and coffee less bitter
Taste better then distilled water which will taste acidic because are mouths are alkaline and this and is true of coffee as well
Great water equals great coffee
Would like to see some more of the enlightened zen guys. Maybe Chade-meng Tan, or someone we’ve never heard of.
Tip: Bulletproof Coffee.
Thank you for the awesome coffee post! Big big coffee fan.
I actually started drinking tea long before coffee, so I tried some tea techniques when I make my coffee. One of the things (other than those you already mentioned) that affects my coffee the most is the quality of the water. My definition of quality here is the ‘wholesomeness’ of the water and not just if it’s RO water, etc…
So other than filtering my water (I use RO at home, but it depends what type of water you begin with at home) I also use binchoutan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binchoutan) and double egg vortexer (http://simplylivingwater.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/e_vortex.jpg – I’m not affiliated) with my water. The whole process makes the water taste really good. Then I use this water to make my coffee or tea.
‘Remember: Apple’s standards are notoriously high.’
Except when it comes to checking if their products are assembled by children in sweatshops.
I’ve often wondered why Apple don’t assemble their products in America for the American market or Europe for the EU market? Now I’m beginning to understand why.
For those who don’t see it: This post has actually almost nothing to do with Apple. Sure, there’s a reference here and there, but the topic is actually coffee. Not Apple. Or Design. Or Jony Ive.
But it’s actually very smart to place references to Apple for SEO-reasons and on the other hand use the topic of making perfect coffee (a typical Tim Ferris topic 🙂 ) to place the affiliate link to Amazon for the Jony Ive book.
Well done! Someone knows how to earn a buck online for sure! 🙂 Now I only need a blog with this many visitors to try to imitate this 🙂
But doesn’t coffee actually only return you to the level you would be at if you never drank it? Your bodies has a dependency and requirement on it so the best ritual is not to have it at all.
Here’s my tips. They’re simple and have a big impact on quality:
– Allow 24 hrs for roasted beans to mature from oils and sugars in the bean
– Know how to clean everything about your machine. Unscrew the shower cap, use a clean cloth only for the milk forth, backwash the machine, clean the filter baskets with a scouring pad, and soak the filter in hot water with a chemical or tartaric acid.
– Overheating the milk past 70 degrees is a problem BECAUSE it burns the coffee creating an acidic taste.
– Microwave or use boiled water to heat a coffee. Creates a nice sensation in the hands.
Heat a coffee cup*
Two great tips:
The time should be between 20-30 seconds. But the flavor of the espresso is what matters. What is considered the correct extract, depends on many different variables. This makes it hard to establish strict rules for the extraction. The flavor should determine the optimum volume for an espresso.
It should pour like warm honey, and be a dark redish-brown color. When the color pales, the extraction is finished, regardless of time.
Experiment with the grinder, your dosing, and your extraction-times you find your flavor.
The espresso equipment should be continously cleaned throughout the day.
– Purging and cleaning the steamwand after every use
– Backflush and clean the filters every hour
– Clean the machine at the end of the day with a detergent
– Do not consume the first espresso out of a cleaned machine
– Vacuum-clean inside the grinder, and never use a moist cloth (causes rust)
@Håvard Good tips!
The Aeropress is a pretty cool way to make a great COFFEE. I have the same Aeropress and even the same grinder 🙂 But if you want to make a rich italian ESPRESSO, you should try a Bialetti Moka Express (Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/qdswvzw ). You will get the best results from the 3-cup version. The larger ones don’t have the same amount of pressure like the small ones. (Read the first customer review on Amazon for a chunk of helpful tips!)
It’s Rancilio not Rancillo and it’s called Miss Silvia and together with Rancilio Rocky Grinder they are the best combination for good espresso. If you are able to find a PID’d version you are in heaven
Here are some tips I would give to John Eve for making “best practice” espresso. This is a rough guide. For details consult the books of Scott Rao. Pardon the grammar/spelling.
1. Quality starts with raw ingredients so make sure you buy fresh quality coffee and use filtered water that is remineralised to the required ph/ppm. Do not use reverse osmosis water.
2. Use a dual boiler or greater machine. If budgets not your problem then you are talking, KVDW Spirit, Synesso, Slayer or if you want to get freaky and explore pressure profiling the La Marzocco Strada. If its for home then get a KVDW Speedster or a La Marzocco GS3.
3. Order the lab refractometer from VST, download the mojotogo app for iPad or iPhone and if your machine didn’t come with them order some VST precision filter baskets. Get a nice pair of pocket scales that can fit on the espresso machines tray that fast and are accurate to .1g while holding the portafilter.
4. Throw out whatever grinder you have and buy a mahlkonig ek43. All espresso grinders create fines. Fines limit the extraction potential.
5. Brew your espresso using all the gear mentioned. Keep track of the following parameters:
-Weight of coffee in portafilter basket (variable)
-Infusion time (keep constant)(machine/pressure dependent)
-Total extraction time (keep constant)
-Final beverage weight (variable)
6. Use your refractometer to analyse the espresso. Aim for the between 18-21% extraction and a TDS range of 8-12. Adjust grind and dose to increase extraction but keep desired strength (TDS) constant. If your coffee is fresh and well roasted you can push past 21% extraction with the EK43.
7. You like coffee and hopefully you no longer consume your mothers breast milk so its probably not a good idea to ruin your beautiful espresso with an animals breast milk.
8. Allow your espresso to cool and before drinking be sure to stir it vigorously in order to distribute the more viscous parts of the beverage that have already settled on the bottom.
9. Block out external stimuli and drink your espresso paying attention to aromas, sweetness, acidity and bitterness. Exhale after swallowing.
10. Marvel at how much time and effort humans have invested over the years so that pleasure can be gained from the seed of a plant.
@Paul And I thought Apple’s ritual was complicated! This is insane, but I love it. How much is all the equipment? At least $10,000 right?
This is standard practice for serious espresso bars. Price for the equipment would be approximately $4000 not including the espresso machine. At this point the only excuse for making bad coffee is poor technique or bad raw ingredients to begin with.
@Paul. I think you win the contest for the best tip. Email your address to leander AT cultofmac dotcom and I’ll get your goodies to you. Congrats!
Thanks for very interesting post Tim! They go through entire preparation process of brewing perfect espresso – fantastic! Thank you for tutorial with an AeroPress. It’s good to learn something new.
Cup of coffee and apple pie it’s very popular combination in Poland 😉
Greetz from polish coffee lovers!
Great post, I am using and loving the Aeropress at the moment but I grind my coffee with a blade grinder. As a good burr grinder is still a bit expensive for me, I wanted to ask how much time does it take to manually grind 12g of coffee on the Hario Mini Mill?
14g on a Polex takes about 1min 30 sec for Aeropress. I imagine the Hario would be similar.
I always believe coffee should be a pleasure to the other senses. The first smell should be rich and make your mouth water and almsost feel heavy in your nose and mouth.
Once you’ve had a cup with a true microfoam you will be spoiled for life. It is an experience I will never forget. Nor will the poor guy who made mine. I started acting like a crazy person, ready to either marry him or pay him lots of money to let me watch him. It’s an unforgettable experience!!
FYI… No one has ever matched that first experience. 🙂
The most crucial thing by far as said in this very post is to have freshly ground coffee (and roasted, but that’s secondary and not available to everyone, in my opinion.)
Take a deep smell of the coffee right after grinding it, heavenly feeling and a great start to your morning, I’ve considered dropping the drinking and just limiting myself to grinding and smelling (haha)
The coffee used is so important.
I bought a French Press after hearing so much about them. But I could never get into the coffee when I made it. Then we visited Portland, OR and were introduced to Stumptown. We bought a few bags of coffee to take home and I gave the ole French Press another try. BAM! It tasted so much better. Now I use the press every day. Lesson: Not every bean is good for a French Press.
When I first used the press I was using Starbucks beans. They just didn’t work well. Now I’ll get beans from Fairway near me where they roast their own beans. I’ll also try to pick up Stumptown whenever I can.
My tip is to be cautious when buying beans that have been roasted to very dark (i.e., french roasts). Many dark roasts are a way to cover up poor quality beans that have not been sorted and cleaned well. Supposedly this is why Starbucks went with a dark roast. Bottom line, know your roaster and the source of their beans, but if you can’t then opt for a medium roast over dark.
@Dorothy Good advice.
Should you pack your coffee grounds by torquing them? I’m no expert on making coffee, but maybe 30psi might be a better way of expressing the perfect amount of pressure!
Total agreement on the no roasting before grinding. You can pan roast but be very careful; the best roaster is the old school popcorn air poppers.
use old beans/grinds for the first pour after the machine has been turned on and warmed-up…
Even if your first pour is 28sec, never drink the ‘first shot’ through the machine after it has warmed up. Running a ‘dummy shot’ will ensure the group head, basket and handle are all at the same operating temperature & the heat-exchanger is functioning for the next ‘real’ pour.
If you are not into waste, keep the dummy-shot for an iced-coffee…. providing the beans you used aren’t too old!
NB: dont measure your length of pour with old beans!!
Heated cups! I didn’t see this mentioned in Tim’s book either.
Did you ever notice how the caffes keep the cups on top of the espresso machine? That’s because it keeps the cups warm.
If you put the wonderful coffee into a cold cup it cools down way too fast.
We have an instant hot water faucet at work & I fill my cup with hot water while preparing my coffee, then dump out the hot water before brewing.
@Elizabeth. Good point about the cups on top of the espresso machine. Well noted.
Air. It’s one of the most important details. I have seen all sorts of injustices do e to exceptional beans…..placed in freezers being one of them but most commonly, just left open to air. Air can ruin a great bean. As such, a good air tight jar for your beans will extend their life. Enjoy!
If you guys really want to try coffee, come down to South India and try a good blend of Chicory and Coffee in what is dubbed the “South Indian Filter Coffee”. The coffee is definitely poured like the devil’s tail and will knock your socks off. 🙂
My coffee tip and ritual is not in the making, but in the drinking. It’s critical for me that my coffee is hot; there’s nothing worse than a cold or even lukewarm sip of java. Since I use half & half, I find that adding it in “after” I pour my precious first morning cup immediately decreases the temperature. To avoid this annoyance, I pour my half & half into the mug first, heat it in the microwave for 10 seconds, and then pour in the hot coffee. And, additional bonus–no stirring required!
P.S. I’d love to graduate to espresso and read your book too!
Thanks, Tim. This is fantastic.
Coffee tip: Know where your coffee comes from and how it is produced. This is less about brewing and more about being an ethical consumer. Coffee is a very resource intensive product – uses tons of water and leaves a carbon footprint. With such a high rate of consumption (up to 4 billion cups a day, worldwide), it makes a difference when we all choose to buy from ethical coffee producers.
Yes, I would love to see more rituals from top performers. I would love to learn the rituals of top journalists and bloggers who produce 1000 or more words per day. How do they get into the creative rhythm and consistently produce high quality journalism? Matt Yglesias of Slate and Maria Popova of Brain Pickings come to mind.
Prep paper filters.
Whenever using a paper filters be it AeroPress (my favorite), Melita, or Hario… pour hot water through it first to take out what I call “paper dust”.
Then after it’s been flushed of paper dust it’s ready. You will taste the difference.
My tip (actually inspired by coffee-loving monks) it to use a bowl (or large handle-less cup so that you must use two hands to drink your coffee. You savor it differently and really experience the warmth and aroma in a fuller way.
It’s a very centering, or Zen, if you like, practice and can be meditative and add to the whole experience. Is having a warm delicious beverage a spiritual experience. I think YES, indeed!
Super post! I am in total agreement, coffee is vital for brainstorming and every other part of life.
I personally have a La Pavoni Europiccola, awesome machine, but has a learning curve.
My coffee tip involves the drinking process.
Do not drink distracted. Think as you drink–about the coffee. And then solve the problems of your world.
Tim, for some reason I chose tea this morning. This put me back on track!
Something most people seem to forget is that coffee is for 98% water. Just as serious you’re about the beans, grind, etc…, be very particular about the water you use.
Another thing that seems to make up a ‘magical’ brew is the act of measuring weight, temperature and time while brewing slow-coffee (V60).
(drip coffee contains more caffeine then espresso)
Last tip, use different beans during the day. It keeps the tastebuds alert and ads an element of surprise.
For now, enjoy each sip!!!
Tim, Great article! I have been a fan of yours for years. And I love coffee. 🙂
As a little boy, my mom made coffee and was sort of a ‘connoisseur’ of coffee – even of grocery store purchased. :-). Even though we didn’t have very much money, my mom would always try to buy a good coffee to brew. I laugh when I realize that she would always add more milk than coffee to my cup – at five years of age – so I could be thrilled that I could have this ‘grown-up’ beverage! Now that she has passed on, I think of her many times as I drink a cup of our ‘favorite-to-share’ beverage.
One of the tricks that she taught me was to put a little pinch of salt into the coffee granules prior to brewing. This would help to eliminate bitterness and provide a smoother taste. I usually do this (if needed) with cheaper brands because some of the better brands don’t need it. But it is a good thing to know when you have coffee that has a lite bitter flavor to it and you still want to use it.
Hope this will help someone! Thanks Tim for all you do.
I came here to post this “coffee hack” as well, also taught to me by my Mum.
@Terry Interesting tip. Does it improve good coffee too?