Brewing coffee at home can either be a mindless act or a meditative process. Sure, there are plenty of high-tech appliances that can churn out a reliable cup at the press of a button. But crafting a cup by hand—weighing and grinding your beans, gauging the temperature of your water, and carefully combining the two over your mug—is a lot more rewarding. And, if you need a distraction from the day, it’s a simple way to engage your mind and hands for a few peaceful minutes.
Elika Liftee knows to make a good cup of manual or pour-over coffee. In fact, he makes the best in the country, according to the judges of the US Brewers Cup, who crowned him champion of their 2020 brewing competition. Liftee, who beat out dozens of other baristas for the title, spends his days training others how to make equally superior cups at Onyx Coffee Lab, a collection of coffee shops and a coffee-roasting operation in northwest Arkansas.
“The advantage of pour-over coffee versus machine-brewed coffee is the amount of control that you have,” Liftee said. “You’re adjusting the grind size, you can adjust your water temperature. And one of the biggest things is you control where the water touches. So, as long as you are pouring really evenly, you’re going to brew really evenly.”
We asked him to share his best tips, tricks and must-have gear for perfecting this same process at home.