Nfld. & Labrador

Not just a cuppa joe anymore: How to brew a perfect cup of coffee

The Battery Cafe in St. John's has been offering classes to help teach non-professionals what to do when brewing their morning java.

Battery Cafe general manager Steve Fairdosi teaches barista classes

Battery Cafe general manager Steve Fairdosi gives classes at the cafe on how to brew a perfect cup of coffee. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

It's been likened to the recent wave of wine enthusiasm and taste testing: brewing a perfect cup of coffee.

And, not surprisingly, there's a fair bit of precision involved. 

The Battery Cafe in St. John's has been offering classes to help teach non-professionals what to do when brewing their morning java.

Cafe general manager Steve Fairdosi told Weekend AM host Heather Barrett the barista classes are a great way for people to learn coffeemaking techniques.

Fairdosi recommends always using a coarsely ground coffee for brewing in a French press. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

"And it's a way where a customer can come in and try their hand at being a barista, buy a bag of beans and take it home, and try to duplicate what we do here in the cafe," said Fairdosi.

The third wave

Fairdosi said the last couple of decades has seen a huge rise in the popularity of coffee quality, calling it the third wave.

"Third-wave coffee is something that has been brewing, pardon the pun, over the past 10, 15, 20 years, really … but it's starting to gain a lot of ground on the worldwide coffee scene," he said.

"First-wave would be wartime coffee. It's just freeze dried, ground coffee, Folger's crystals," he said. "A cup of sludge, stuff that GI Joes would drink."

Fairdosi said the second wave gave a "little more transparency" to coffee, with the onslaught of franchises such as Starbucks.

"The third wave, which is kind of what we're in now, is that — amplified — intensely," he said.

"Not only is the coffee I just made from Guatemala, I know what farm it came from, I know the elevation, where the beans were grown, I  know the farmer's name."

Drip, AeroPress, French press?

Depending on preference, Fairdosi will demonstrate several options in a barista class.

Fairdosi says he prefers to make his home coffee with this gadget called an AeroPress. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

The AeroPress, for example is a brew-by-the-cup method.

And it's a way where a customer can come in and try their hand at being a barista.- Steve Fairdosi

"It brews basically one cup of coffee, about an eight- to 10-ounce cup of coffee, and it's my favourite way to have a single cup of brewed coffee," he said. 

"It makes great coffee, and believe it or not, it's pretty foolproof. It's great for travel and it's great for camping, because it's very compact, it's made out of plastic, so it's not going to break like a lot of bodums might." 

Measuring is key

Fairdosi is a strong believer in measuring coffee and water, for maximum taste quality, comparing it to the importance and precision of measurement in baking.

A kitchen scale and a wooden stir stick are also essential tools for making that perfect cup of coffee. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

"You really kind of need a scale when you're brewing coffee at home," he said.

"A lot of people roll their eyes at me when I'm making coffee at home, especially my wife. She thinks it's the nerdiest thing ever. But if you want a consistent cup of coffee, you need to weigh everything. If you're making a batch of cookies at home, you're weighing everything out. Why not do the same for coffee?"

About the Author

Lisa Gushue

CBC News

Lisa Gushue works from the CBC newsroom in St. John's.

With files from Weekend AM