Even coffeemaking has turned into a competitive sport. This week America's Specialty Coffee Association names a new U.S. barista champion. tip sheet asked last year's winner, Heather Perry, 21, how to make the perfect cup of espresso at home.
Invest in a good machine. "Price is a pretty good determinant of quality," says Perry. Expect to spend at least $200, and look for one with nine-bar pressure.
Grind your own beans. Never use pods. "Coffee loses about half its flavor within seven minutes of being ground," she says. Pick a grinder with burrs, not blades--blades can overheat the beans and rob them of natural oils.
Avoid bins. Buy your coffee in vacuum-sealed packages, not open barrels. And never store beans in your freezer. A cool, dry place is best--unless you want them to smell like leftover lasagne.