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Coffee guru Keith Zolner at work.

Sarasota dermatologist Brad Abrams has traveled the world to pursue his coffee passion, touring espresso machine manufacturers from Seattle to Florence, tasting coffee all along the way. But when it came to brewing his own, Abrams found his personal coffee guru right here in Sarasota. Keith Zolner, co-founder of Perq Coffee Bar, now has a consultation division, helping local coffee crazies assemble elaborate in-home systems that can cost upwards of $10,000. 

“It’s a commitment,” Zolner says, referring both to the time and the money that some clients invest in homemade espresso. For Abrams, Zolner facilitated the purchase and installation of a Slayer espresso machine ($8,500), which features a unique manual pre-infusion process that distributes water through the “puck” of espresso grounds, preparing them for a consistent, uniform extraction that minimizes acidic notes. 

Zolner also recommended Abrams install a home water filtration system—“If you don’t like city tap water, why would you think your coffee would taste good with it?”—and the doctor uses a Compak brand espresso grinder ($1,000) to ensure an even grind without overheating his Chicago-roasted Intelligentsia-brand beans. Zolner also recommends clients weigh their grounds for a consistent coffee-to-water ratio. (Perq’s website advertises an Acaia Lunar scale for $240.)

Zolner notes that even modest adjustments to inexpensive setups can make big changes to your home brew’s flavor. Still, those with the means and the passion love turning their home into a coffee chemistry laboratory.

“You have to be a certain type of person who enjoys experimenting with flavors, finding different roasters, adjusting all the variables,” Abrams explains. “I do not like just pressing a button.” 

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