The Perfect Cup of Coffee

Finally, after ten years of experimentation and rigorous testing, I’m ready to throw back the curtain on my recipe for the perfect cup of coffee. I didn’t think the world was ready for it. But, if not now, when? The world needs good coffee.

After reading this post, you will have the tools and the talent to make the perfect cup of coffee every time. And you will do it with precision.

My Coffee Story

But some background. Why should you take my opinion? How did I get here? I first started experimenting with coffee when I was a student finishing up my bachelor’s degree program in English. As any English major will tell you, we had to read a lot of books. Most of my time that year was spent in books. And we had to write a lot. Both of these activities required coffee.

I got a French Press as a birthday gift, but no one could tell me how to brew a good cup of coffee with it. It was mostly a sort of guessing game based on eyeball measurement and guesswork. That wasn’t good enough for me. You might get lucky and make a good cup by eye, but the results will be inconsistent. I knew there had to be a reliable, functional system for getting the same results every time.

So I bought a few tools (which I will link to below). And I started experimenting.

In order to get the perfect cup, you will have to measure each time. There is no more eyeballing for you. I want you to promise you’ll never play fast and loose with your recipe. You may disagree with the measurements I provide. You might want to tinker, and that’s fine. But you must measure each time to get consistent results.

The Tools

With the proper tools, you will be able to make the same delicious cup of coffee every time out of the gate. The basics are as follows: kettle, grinder, scale, and French Press. Each tool is described in detail below.

The French Press

If you’re used to drinking Keurig or standard drip coffee, the French Press flavor will blow your mind. You’ll discover a world of taste sensations that you never knew existed. Glass presses are superior, but I’ve been using a stainless steel press recently, and I can scarcely tell a difference.

But why French Press? If you’ve ever had a French Press coffee, you know it savors the flavor. But if you’ve had it in a restaurant you probably had a bad experience because they didn’t have a good recipe. And you probably drank too deeply into the cup and got a mouthful of sediment. (There are ways to get less sediment at the bottom, but it takes longer.) And maybe someone told you you should do a pour-over through a filter because that will result in less sediment at the bottom. The problem with filters is, as you can imagine, they filter out a lot of the flavor. So, I’m telling you, go French Press and you’ll thank me in the comments section.

The Kettle

You’ll also need a kettle to boil water. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need to heat your water to a precise 200 degrees to get the best results from French Press. You can use boiling water that you’ll get out of any kettle. Once you’ve poured the water into the carafe, it starts to cool down. So there’s no danger of scorching your beans.

The Grinder

You will need to grind your beans fresh right before you use them. And not just any electric Target grinder will do. French Press requires a medium coarse grind. It’s a sandy texture that you want—not a fine powder. You need a conical burr grinder to get an even grind. If you use a cheap electric grinder you’ll get some coarse grounds but a lot of extra fine powder. You don’t want that.

I would highly recommend the Baratza Encore. But if you’re on a budget, as I was in my student days, you would do very well to get yourself a Porlex Jp-30.

Don’t skimp on the grinder. After the scale, it’s the most important part.

The Scale

The scale is the most important tool in your coffee-making arsenal. Without it, you are flying blind. I recommend the Hario scale. Not only because it has a timer (very helpful) but because I’ve had the same one since college and it’s never failed me.

The Recipe

I’ve followed this recipe for years and tested it on friends and family. It consistently yields great results.

Stay close to these measurements:

Size Coffee Water Creamer (optional)
Regular 17-20g 300g 30-35g
Grande 30-35g 500g 70-75g
WholePress (an entire French Press, ideal for two) 50-55g 800g nil


  1. Heat up your water
  2. Grind the beans
  3. Pour the beans into the carafe
  4. Pour the hot water in
  5. Wait a minute, then stir with a chopstick or a piece of uncooked pasta (just don’t use a metal utensil)
  6. Brew for at least 3 minutes
  7. Press down and pour

That’s it. Sip slowly and savor every drop.

The Alternate Press

As promised, there is a way to get less sediment at the bottom of your cup when you make French Press coffee. (I saw a YouTube video about this many years ago.) Basically, you have to adjust your press procedure every so slightly. I don’t do this, because it lengthens your overall prep time by about 15-20 minutes. So if it’s morning, and you’re ready for coffee, I don’t think this is the method for you.

  • But basically, instead of fully pressing down the plunger, just let it sit atop the beans.
  • Wait 15-20 minutes.
  • Don’t press the plunger down all the way, just pour slowly into the cup.

The idea here is that you’ve allowed time for the grounds to absorb more water and fall to the bottom of the carafe. By pouring slowly, you avoid agitating the grounds that have settled. So, in theory, less sediment makes its way into your cup.

I didn’t notice much difference when I tried this. I don’t believe the smaller grounds settle all that much. So, for me, it wasn’t worth the time. But you should give it a try.


  1. Really Nice article. I too arrived at the same place – I have a small scale for the beans and a couple of grinders (at home and portable). Grinding fresh beans makes all the difference in the world. I use my French Press if making 2 or more cups at a time, but for single cups and for portable use, I love my AeroPress. I have a steel screen to replace the paper filters – usually I use it. For me, the AeroPress has two advantages over the French Press – ease of cleanup and portability. It’s an immersion method, like the French Press, and has to ability to wildly vary your recipe and technique in a repeatable way.

    Keep up the good work.

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