Current Issue
This Month's Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read

Coffee Brewing Lessons From a Champion Barista

A world coffee champion explains what you need to brew a winning cup.

Photograph by Dylan Griffin
Photograph by Dylan Griffin

The World Barista Championships (in London from June 23 to 25) are the Olympics for java junkies. One judge who knows what it takes to win is 2008 champion Stephen Morrissey, director of education at Chicago's Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea. His winning drink: an espresso shot blended with flambéed chocolate mousse, panna cotta, and blueberry. We asked Morrissey to pick products that help ordinary Joes make prize-worthy coffee at home.

1. HARIO CERAMIC COFFEE DRIPPER 02

The century-old manual-drip method, in which water slowly soaks through filter-held grounds, is coming back. This single-cup dripper from Japan "is a favorite of many baristas," says Morrissey. "The wide opening at the bottom and the ridged edges make for a forgiving, easy brew method." ($23, intelligentsiacoffee.com)

2. MYPRESSI TWIST

Pack the ultra-portable Twist to guarantee quality Joe on the road. It uses nitrous-oxide cartridges to pump hot water through tightly packed grounds, producing a top-notch espresso wherever you are. ($169, mypressi.com)

3. CHEMEX GLASS BREWER

The six-cup dripper's thick filter captures fine grounds that can make a brew bitter. "The result is a lush cup that allows the nuances of great coffees to sing," says Morrissey. ($36, chemexcoffeemaker.com)

4. YAMA SYPHON BREWER

For a show, pick this stylish siphon brewer. When heated, water in the bottom bowl rises to the top chamber, hitting the grounds. Take it off the heat and the mix crashes down through a filter, delivering crisp coffee. ($100, intelligentsiacoffee.com)

5. SOEHNLE PAGE DIGITAL SCALE

Making good coffee is less art than science. "To control the ratio of water to coffee," Morrissey urges, "use a scale to measure your dose and also the volume of water you're using." ($40, amazon.com)

6. BARATZA VIRTUOSO GRINDER

Morrissey recommends a burr grinder like the Baratza, which pulverizes the beans, producing uniform grounds that make consistently tasty cups. ($225, baratza.com)

7. GUAYABO COFFEE BEANS

There's no good coffee without good beans. Morrissey's current favorite hails from El Salvador's family-run Matalapa farm. The crop is intensely sweet, with hints of tropical fruit and sugared cranberries. ($22 per pound, intelligentsiacoffee.com)

A version of this article appeared in the June 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.