Five Things United Airlines NYC Half Champ Ben True Taught Us About Making Coffee

Five Things United Airlines NYC Half Champ Ben True Taught Us About Making Coffee

Fresh off of his win at the 2018 United Airlines NYC Half, American runner Ben True took over the New York Road Runners Instagram account. As a soon-to-be co-owner of a coffee roasting company, he showed viewers how he makes his cup of coffee each day, and just like his racing technique, the Ivy-educated runner with a 3:59.99 outdoor mile best does it with remarkable precision.

In just about the same time it takes True to run 3000 meters (his personal best: 7:35.53), you can come along with him as he heats up the water, grinds the beans, and prepares his coffeemaker for a pour over.

For readers who want to try making their coffee like a pro, here are five tips True offered during his takeover.

The Coffee-to-Water Ratio: True's preference is a 1:16 ratio—one gram of coffee for every 16 milliliters of water—but adds that 1:15 or 1:17 ratios are also viable options.

Water Temperature: True uses a digital thermometer to measure his coffee's temperature, and brews his cup at just above 200 degrees Fahrenheit. For runners simply looking to heat water on their stovetop, he recommends allowing the water to boil and then letting it sit and cool for about three minutes before brewing.

Grinding the Beans: This section has a couple of steps.

  • When to Grind the Beans: Grind the beans freshly, or as close to when you're brewing as possible. Letting ground beans sit allows air to take away some of the flavors in the beans, and with time, can make them stale.
  • How to Grind the Beans: True recommends a burr grinder over a blade grinder, as it creates a more uniform grind. 
  • How Much to Grind the Beans: True uses a sifter to separate the finer grounds, which can make coffee bitter, and the course grounds ("boulders"), which can make coffee with under-extracted flavors. During a later Q&A portion of his live video, he mentioned that sifting can help to filter out any grounds smaller than 200 microns and larger than 800 microns.

How to Pour Over: For the first step, the "bloom," pour about three times as much water into the coffeemaker as there are coffee grounds, and make sure to wet all of the grounds in the coffee bed. Allow the water to pass through the filter for about 30 to 45 seconds—the fresher the coffee, the longer you want—before finishing with a second pour. Be sure to keep the water from flowing over the sides of the cone, and after about three minutes, your cup should be ready.

How to Enjoy: There's no proper, or "tried-and-True" (if you will), approach to this step. It mainly comes down to preference. True takes his coffee black, but you can add in milk, sugar, or anything else you see fit.

True's dedication to making great coffee has even led him to co-found his own coffee company. He and his wife, Sarah—an Olympic triathlete herself—are partnering with fellow pro runner Desiree Linden and her husband, Ryan, to launch Linden & True Coffee later this year.

As the business has developed, the Trues have installed a coffee roaster in their garage, and in the afternoon part of his takeover, he gave viewers a look at the machine in action as he prepared a batch of beans for brewing.

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Follow @benjtrue on Instagram for more tips on coffee and running, and follow @nyrr to keep up with our community of runners—pros and everyday runners alike. You never know who you might see next!

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