"The idea was to strip away every toy," Helt says of the campfire experiment, conducted during last year's Caffeine Crawl. "We wanted to really focus on all of the variables that we manipulate to make coffee."
Fat City asked him how coffee perfectionists might begin their own quest at home.
Grind. Get a good grinder. Helt likes the Bodum Bistro, a conical burr grinder that can be had for less than $150. For the money, it's really good.
Weigh. Find a scale that measures in grams and to the hundredth of an ounce. You can get one at Harbor Freight (harborfreight .com) for $20. "You just want a digital scale with a quick response," Helt says.
Brew. At this point, you don't even have to leave your basic auto-drip machine. You just have to get away from having a glass pot on a burner. "If you are looking for brightness or flavor clarity, go with a Chemex, a [Hario] V60 or an [Abid] Clever dripper. If you really like the body or deep complexity of coffee, you may want to move toward a French press."
Helt adds: "The interesting thing about coffee is that even when it's perfectly sourced, perfectly roasted and excellently prepared, it still may not be your favorite cup. You just keep going until you find what you like."
Gusto Coffee Bistro in Lee's Summit uses Benetti's beans for espresso. Benetti's coffee is also sold at One More Cup and can be ordered at benettiscoffee.com.