The java experts at Compass Coffee in Washington, D.C. reveal the secrets and science behind brewing a flawless cup of coffee.

Quiet, please. I am analyzing.

Coffee is such a key part of entertaining, whether you’re serving it during breakfast, for brunch, in the afternoon, or after dinner. To find out how to make the perfect cup of coffee, we asked Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez, two of the country’s top coffee virtuosos and co-authors of Perfect Coffee at Home, for their tips.  Join us as we see what’s brewing.

What’s your best tip for brewing the perfect cup?

Michael: The number-one thing you can do to improve the coffee you serve is to grind your beans right before brewing them. Coffee has more flavor compounds than wine, but those compounds deteriorate quickly when exposed to oxygen. Grinding your beans right before you brew them keeps those compounds intact.

Harrison: Agreed. Pre-ground coffee loses all of its flavor because it goes stale so quickly. Do yourself a favor and buy a grinder. If you’re a coffee enthusiast, buy this coffee grinder from Bodum. This burr grinder from Baratza is more than most people would expect to pay for a grinder, but if you’re a connoisseur, it’s money well spent. It ensures a proper particle distribution so you get all the best flavors from your cup of coffee.

What kind of beans make the best coffee?

Michael: Always buy good coffee beans. They should be whole beans, sustainably farmed, and roasted within the past few weeks. We also suggest buying lighter roasts because they enable you to taste the flavors—the terroir—of the coffee. With darker roasts, you’re missing out. It’s like taking a nice steak and charring it beyond recognition.

What is the best way to store coffee beans?

Harrison: Keep them in an airtight container and away from sunlight. A major point of debate in the coffee world is whether or not to freeze coffee beans. We fall somewhere in between. If it’s going to be more than two weeks before brewing, freeze them. Otherwise, avoid it.

What is the right proportion of coffee to water?

Michael: A major mistake people make is not using enough coffee. The key is to start with the Golden Ratio of 17.42 units—whether grams or ounces or whatever unit your prefer—of water to 1 unit of coffee. So, for example, if you’re using 1 cup—or 237 grams—of water, you’d want to use about 2-3/4 teaspoons—or 13.6 grams—of ground coffee. That ratio will get you into the optimal flavor zone.

I know you’re both strong believers in using quality brewing products, so what is your favorite:

At-home coffeemaker: Technivorm
At-home espresso machine: La Marzocco Linea Mini 
French press: Bodum Chambord
Coffee grinder: Baratza Forte Brew Grinder. It’s automatic and so durable.

Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez 

What’s your favorite cocktail made with coffee?

Michael: I love a Dark and Stormy. I mix together 2 ounces of Myers Original Dark Rum, 3 ounces of Gosling’s Ginger Beer, and 1 ounce of espresso and garnish it with a lime.

Harrison: Mine is a Compass White Russian, which is one ounce of Triple Eight Vodka, 1 ounce of heavy cream, and 1.5 ounces of Compass Coffee Liqueur.

Cups also play a role in the enjoyment of coffee. Which are your favorites?

Michael: We love serving coffee in these coffee mugs. Their award-winning design lets you enjoy the full aroma of the coffee.

Harrison: And for enjoying coffee on the go, this thermos from Zojirushi is the best one ever designed.

Photo sources: Pinterest

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee

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Welcome photo: Janet Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor
Welcome quote: Forbidden Planet, 1956

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