The Perfect Cup of Coffee

Photo by Kristen Penoyer

There’s nothing like walking into your favorite coffee shop and savoring a cup of joe that tastes as good as it smells.

But is it possible to make that same cup at home without being a highly trained barista or investing hundreds of dollars? Will Morgan, owner of Vagabond Coffee, thinks it is.

With a few tools and a consistent process refined over time, home brewers can make coffee just as good, or maybe even better because they can adjust the flavor to their own taste, he says. Morgan trains employees to explain the process to customers is adding a home brewing video to Vagabond Coffee’s website and plans to schedule classes at the shop on Edgewood Avenue in Murray Hill.

What fascinates Morgan the most about coffee is its complexity. Experts believe that coffee has more than 1,500 aromatic and flavor compounds, making it more complex than wine, he says. The notes depend on many factors, including the variety itself, the soil where it’s grown, the ripeness of the coffee cherry when it’s picked and a roasting process that can bring out the bean’s unique flavor or render it bitter. Coffee is a stone fruit, and “the stone” or bean inside is what is used to make coffee.

Photo by Kristen Penoyer

“Coffee is science,” Morgan said. “There’s so much science in it.”

Of course, good coffee starts with a good bean. Morgan suggests a green, or natural bean, which refers to coffee that’s dried with the cherry on throughout the drying process. To make the most flavorful cup of coffee at home, Morgan recommends the pourover method. While it may take more time, it produces a fantastic cup of coffee because it enhances the bean’s best flavors.

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Starting with a whole bean, versus pre-ground beans is going to make for a fresher cup of coffee. A hand grinder, which creates an even textured grind that properly releases its aromatic oils in the water, is a handy tool for the process. A pourover dripper, filter and filter holder are also needed. Vagabond and many other independent coffee shops in the core sell the proper tools needed.

Morgan recommends weighing the water and the coffee grinds prior, so the process can be repeated or adjusted for your preferred strength. Vagabond Coffee uses 24 grams of coffee to 330 grams of water, Morgan says.

Photo by Kristen Penoyer

Bring the water to boil, and then let it cool a bit so it doesn’t scorch the coffee. Place the grinds in the filter inside the pourover dripper, and place the pourover dripper over your cup, or vessel to hold the coffee. Pour the hot water over the grinds slowly and evenly, so the grinds don’t dry out. The coffee is ready to serve in about three-and-a-half minutes and will yield a 12 ounce cup.

Morgan is not afraid that education on home brewing will harm business because, he says, “We put our own fingerprint on our coffee” served at Murray Hill and Hemming Plaza.

“This is a labor of love for us,” he says.

For more information about Vagabond Coffee, visit

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