The Perfect Cup: Matt Perger
Words & Photographs by Nico Alary
A barista from one of Melbourne’s busiest cafés sits down to discuss cupping as a coffee brewing method at home.
I’ve been trying to live in many different cities over the last eight years, looking for somewhere I would be comfortable calling home. I have lived here and there for a few months, sometimes years, and my favorite part of the search has been meeting people. I think you can value the quality of a city by the people who populate it.
I now live in Melbourne, and was happy to meet Matt Perger, who oversees many aspects of St. Ali, one of the busiest cafés in the city. When I ask if he’s interested in contributing to this brewing series, he suggests we discuss cupping as a home brewing method. I immediately agree.
It’s a Wednesday and I can hear the familiar clicking of my front gate. I walk down the long corridor, typical of Melbourne’s terrace houses, and invite Matt in. He has brought a fresh bag of Colombian coffee that he roasted just the day before. As I start taking photos, Matt methodically weighs and grinds the beans, medium-fine. When the kettle is ready, he transfers the grounds to a ceramic bowl and pours the hot water in, creating a circular swirl.
A beautiful crust forms on top of the bowl and the comforting scent of freshly brewed coffee fills the kitchen, mixing with the smell of buttery croissants I’m slowly warming in the oven. After four minutes, Matt breaks the crust and removes the top layer of coffee grounds to prevent further extraction. As we wait for it to decant and cool, he explains that he loves coffee because he will never fully understand it, never master it, no matter how hard he tries.
We start ripping generous chunks off the buttery croissants, talking about how coffee is a fruit—the seed of the coffee cherry—and, like many fruits, is the most delicious when fresh. I take my first sip of the silky black cup; it is amazingly sweet and clean and tastes like caramelized plum. Matt smiles; he loves to make coffee for others, to show people how good it can be. As we finish the croissants and drink the last of our coffee, I am thankful for the great people I’ve met throughout my travels, and realize that I might have finally found home.
Recipe: Cupping Method
3 1/2 ounces boiling water
1 tablespoon coffee, ground medium to coarse
Any size of bowl or mug works well for brewing. Just use a half of a tablespoon of coffee for every 3½ ounces of water.
Measure 1 tablespoon of coffee that has been ground medium to coarse, and tip grounds into a ceramic cup. Pour 7 ounces boiling water over the ground, ensuring they all get well.
Wait 4 minutes.
Gently break the crust with a spoon, getting close to enjoy the smell. Remove the foam and decant into a mug, leaving the coffee grounds behind.