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The best VR games in 2021

best VR games
(Image credit: Cloudhead Games)

Free yourself from keyboard or controller with the best VR games around. The titles on this list are the ones that can make gamers understand exactly why it's worth investing in a headset and possibly risking motion sickness. The ones that show off experiences you just can't get by playing games the normal way.

With the best VR games, you've got the chance to fly Tony Stark's armored suit in Iron Man VR, rebel against an alien empire in Half-Life: Alyx, or fly an X-Wing or TIE Fighter in Star Wars Squadrons. Newcomers to VR gaming, or veteran virtual reality explorers looking for something different to try: we think that you will find that the games on this list will provide that next awesome gaming experience you're after.

What are the best VR games?

While splitting games into genres can be handy, it's better to split the best VR games on this list up into the different ways they use virtual reality. Some of the best VR games are simply existing titles translated into the new medium. Fun examples of these would be The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR or Doom VFR, which are based on existing titles. These are good for beginners who are making their first forays into VR gaming, or franchise fans who want to try their most beloved game in a new way.

Then there are the best VR games that wouldn't really work anywhere else. This includes Beat Saber, Iron Man VR or Star Trek: Bridge Crew. One notch down you'll find Batman: Arkham VR, and Superhot VR. These are based on games designed for normal controllers, but these versions change so many mechanics and scenarios, they've essentially become brand new experiences.

There's multiplayer VR gaming to try too. Eve: Valkyrie lets you pilot a starfighter in an online match, while Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes teams a player in VR with another player, who can't see the bomb they're defusing but have all the instructions.

For the best VR games for immersing yourself in a story, Half-Life: Alyx is the newest hot property in VR gaming. As well as continuing a well-loved franchise's story after years and years of silence, it shows off an experience that makes the most of its format without being too impenetrable for newcomers. Falcon Age, while a far less famous name and a much smaller project, offers something similar for gamers who want a story with their VR gameplay.

The best VR games you can buy today

A Jurassic Park Aftermath screenshot, showing a velociraptor checking a screen that the player broke.

(Image credit: Universal City Studios)

1. Jurassic World: Aftermath

The recently updated Aftermath lets you explore the wreckage of the titalur dinosaur theme park between the first and second films of the rebooted franchise. Stuck there while on a mission to find crucial research information from the labs, you've got to solve puzzles and hide from some familiar flesh-eating foes however you can.

While being stalked by killer lizards from the past is scary, the game actually looks quite fun with its cell-shaded graphics. It'll a novel experience for fans used to the more realistic look of the main series of movies, but sneaking through facilities and attractions to avoid scary dinosaurs is an exciting premise that'll inspire any VR gamer.

Get Jurassic Park: Aftermath on Oculus Quest


(Image credit: JoyWay)

2. Stride

Freerunning is a great fit for VR (provided you have the stomach for it), and Stride has arrived to fill the niche. Leap, slide and wall-run across an unlimited city of rooftops in a challenge of how long you can keep going.

It's a very physical game, requiring lots of arm movement to control your character. That only gets more difficult as the game introduces gunmen who try to take you out as you're running, but at least you've got a weapon of your own to attack back. With endless, timed and arena modes already in place, and a story mode on the way, this is a game with plenty of potential for virtual thrills.

Get Stride on Oculus Quest, PlayStation Store and Steam


(Image credit: Drool)

3. Thumper

You've never played a rhythm game like Thumper before. While it's still a matter of getting your inputs timed correctly to the music, the environment and tracks themselves are deliberately brutal, making each stage feel like a battle.

Playing as a shiny "space beetle", you have to correctly hit the pads on the track while shifting lanes and avoiding danger spots or even enemy attacks. Once you've made it through, you can go onto the next level or try again for a high score. Or, considering the unrelenting tone of the game, perhaps you'll just need to take the headset off and take five.

Get Thumper for £15.99/$15.99 on Steam, Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, Oculus Go and PlayStation Store.


(Image credit: Sony)

4. Subnautica (PC)

Immerse yourself in the unending ocean of planet 4546B with Subnautica's VR mode. The survival game's underwater-focussed gameplay works brilliantly, with your headset feeling like a diving helmet as you venture deeper into the water. Just remember to breathe.

Your goal is the same as the usual game - collect resources to allow you to survive while you find a way off-planet. You'll build yourself bases and vehicles to make this easier, and to protect yourself from the more aggressive wildlife. Plus, while you're out scavenging, you may come across snippets of the game's narrative, explaining the history of the planet, and what became of your crewmates after your starship crashed under mysterious circumstances.

Microsoft Flight Simulator

(Image credit: Xbox)

5. Microsoft Flight Simulator (PC)

Even without a VR headset, the stunning views and meticulously detailed aircraft of this flight sim are simply delicious to experience. But adding a compatible headset into the mix makes it, without doubt, one of the best VR games around.

With the first-person viewpoint offered by your helmet, you can examine all the buttons and switches up close, and gain an extra level of immersion as you take off and land at airports around the world, fly through the clouds and admire the landscapes below.

If that sounds a bit overwhelming to you, then you'll be glad that the game lets you tailor how much of your plane's controls are automatically or manually controlled. If you want something more relaxing, you can just let the game take care of the hard stuff for you and enjoy flying around. But if you want to feel like an actual pilot, then you can take off the training wheels and tinker to your heart's content.

Star Wars Squadrons

(Image credit: EA)

6. Star Wars: Squadrons (PC, PSVR)

With a first-person view out of your X-Wing or TIE Fighter cockpit, Star Wars Squadrons is the latest and greatest way to experience space combat set in the timeline of the saga's original trilogy.

Your chosen fighter, out of a list of famous Star Wars spacecraft, can also be customized to make it look and perform more like you want and need, depending on the mission at hand.

In classic Star Wars tradition, there's a single player campaign to enjoy too, with the Rebels and the Empire both getting their own sides of the story. But if fighting CPU-controlled opponents isn't satisfying you, there's also online multiplayer where you can assert your position as a flying ace.

Falcon Age

(Image credit: Outerloop Games)

7. Falcon Age (PC, PSVR, Oculus Quest)

It's you and your pet bird of prey against the world in this adventure game. Your home planet has been taken over by a robot empire, and after breaking out of prison with your new falcon friend, the only logical thing to do is start fighting back.

As your falcon grows from chick to adult, it learns new tricks and abilities to help you on your way. Plus you can dress it up in cute costumes.

With the falcon on one arm and a stun baton in the other, you'll be tasked by the resistance to free up areas of the map from machine control, bringing hope back to a community that's not got a lot of it left. It's one of the best VR games for players trying to lose themselves in a virtual world, with its an uplifting story set in a beautifully rendered world.

Get Falcon Age for $19.99 on Steam, Oculus Quest, PlayStation Store or Epic Games Store

Vader Immortal

(Image credit: Disney Interactive)

8. Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series (Oculus, PSVR)

Within a fortress on the planet Mustafar, surrounded by lava and burning rock, dwells the most famous Sith Lord in all the galaxy. And though you play just a common smuggler, you've got to infiltrate the place and find out what Vader is looking for.

The game takes place over three parts, with your involvement in the story slowly becoming clearer as you venture further. Your path forwards is blocked by enemies, that you can take down with your lightsaber, and puzzles, which you'll need to use your mind and physics objects to conquer instead.

If you want a break from the story, you can open up the game's included Lightsaber Dojo, where you can train in the art of wielding your elegant weapon from a more civilized age.

Get Vader Immortal Episode 1 for $9.99 on Oculus Rift S, Oculus Quest or Playstation Store (all three episodes)

Pistol Whip

(Image credit: Cloudhead Games)

9. Pistol Whip (PSVR, PC)

A mix of FPS and rhythm game, Pistol Whip takes you to a world with a striking art style of simple shapes in exotic colors. Once you select a level, playing the game is exceptionally simple: point and shoot at enemies, point at the floor to reload, dodge bullets by moving your head. You're moved along on rails, but your focus is on shooting enemies to the beat of the game's EDM soundtrack, which awards you more points.

When you feel like you're getting the hang of things, that's the moment you can start to play around with the game's bagful of gameplay modifiers, or buy the game's newly released Pistol Whip 2089 expansion DLC. It's a game you'll want to play over and over to either beat your high score or to savor the feeling of making a string of headshots to a rapid synth bass riff.

Iron Man VR

(Image credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment)

10. Iron Man VR (PSVR)

Here's one of the best, if not the best VR games for pretending you're in the Avengers. You take control of the Iron Man suit, staring through its familiar HUD, navigating obstacles in the environment and throwing punches and firing energy blasts to take down your foes. Back at base you can customize your suit (still in first-person), giving you a different side of the Tony Stark experience. 

There's a story to experience too (although this isn't a canon story if you care about such things), the game's campaign pitting Stark and company against hacker super-villain Ghost, but other characters good and evil will turn up too.

half-life alyx

(Image credit: Valve)

11. Half-Life: Alyx (Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality)

This game allows you to return to the world of Half-Life after 13 years of silence, except not in a way you will fully recognize. Taking the place of Alyx Vance rather than Gordon Freeman, you'll be fighting through City 17 at a time before the unlucky physicist arrives.

That means engaging in shootouts with Combine soldiers and other alien enemies, and solving puzzles that rely on your new VR control scheme to solve.

It might be hard to forgive Valve for making fans wait so long for another instalment of this game series, but you're not going to find a much better expression of what VR can do than with this game.

(Image credit: Hello Games)

12. No Man's Sky VR (PSVR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive)

The famous (and infamous) space exploration game can be enjoyed on a VR headset. You’re taken right into the heart of the new worlds you discover, or can sit and truly appreciate the massiveness of space from your ship’s cockpit. And since the galaxy is so enormous, you’ll never run out of new things to see and find as you hunt for resources to improve your ship and travel even greater distances.

If you haven't paid attention to the game's numerous updates since its rocky launch, you may not know what else you can now get up to in-game. Multiplayer, capital ship and fleet management, base building and more are all part of No Man's Sky's recent expansions and all will work with the VR version (itself a part of these expansions). It's the ideal way to explore the game, whether it's for the first time or after hundreds of hours of the original.

(Image credit: Beat Games)

13. Beat Saber (Oculus Rift; PS VR; HTC Vive)

Beat Saber is a fast, kinetic rhythm game in which the player slashes color-coded blocks to the beat of music playing in the background, and one of the best VR games for working up a sweat. Using two motion controllers, you'll swipe in the air vertically or horizontally and occasionally hold your controller in a position to rack up points. 

Designed for a seated experience, Beat Saber comes with 10 songs. However, PC players can use a track editor to create their own custom tracks from within the game; with some light modding, they can allow download other users' tracks.

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

14. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR (Oculus Rift; PS VR; HTC Vive)

For a game that seems to be available on every console around, a full VR translation of 2011's single-player, open-world epic, was inevitable. Skyrim VR gives players a much closer look at the world of Tamriel. The game features fully tracked motion controls for your left- and right-hand equipment, so you'll be able to swing your sword and block incoming attacks using realistic gestures.

All previously released DLC expansions, like Dawnguard and Hearthfire, come with this version of Skyrim. The only negative is that the graphical upgrade seen in Special Edition is missing from the VR version of Skyrim, so some visuals may look a bit dated.

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

15. Doom VFR (PS VR; HTC Vive)

Doom VFR is best described as a VR adaptation of 2016's popular reboot of Doom, rather than a full port of that game into VR. This means Doom VFR features a different story and campaign, with heavily tweaked combat dynamics designed with VR in mind. 

This title is best suited to a standing or room-scale setup, as the game will frequently require you to raise and lower your profile and turn around quickly to deal with enemies coming from all directions. This title adds free movement using a controller, but the game was originally designed to use a teleportation system when covering large distances.

This is no longer the newest Doom title since Doom: Eternal came out recently. But that's not available in VR, which makes Doom VFR the current best option for tearing demons apart with maximum immersion.

(Image credit: Against Gravity)

16. Rec Room (Oculus Rift; PS VR; HTC Vive)

Rec Room is one of the best VR games for kicking back and relaxing, or for beginners wary of trying out more intense games for fear of motion sickness. This game provides a low-impact and free social sandbox of places to go, things to pick up and toss, objects to interact with, and some minigames to play solo or with others online. You can play this title suitably from either a seated or standing position, and it works well with room scale.

Rec Room is designed primarily as a social experience, so expect a lot of people to be on mic, and consider taking part in the chatter yourself. You won't find an infinitely replayable game world to explore here, but Rec room should help people who need to get their VR sea legs before they tackle more in-depth experiences.

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

17. Star Trek: Bridge Crew (Oculus Rift; PS VR; HTC Vive)

In Star Trek: Bridge Crew, you can fulfill your dream of joining Starfleet, with a choice of four different key roles onboard the USS Aegis: a Captain who keeps track of the objectives and gives the orders; a Tactical Officer for managing sensors and weaponry; the Helm Officer who controls the ship's course and speed; or the Engineer who takes care of power management and any repairs the Aegis may need.

Bridge Crew will require constant communication with your crewmates as you explore space, defend yourself from enemies and avoid natural hazards. The game works best in online multiplayer, but you can also issue specific voice commands to three AI crewmembers in single-player mode if you're playing offline.

(Image credit: Skydance Interactive)

18. Archangel: Hellfire (Oculus Rift; PS VR; HTC Vive)

Archangel is a mech shooter that includes a single-player story campaign for the PS4 and PC versions of the game. This campaign places you in the cockpit of a building-size mech in an on-rails experience best played while seated. You'll control the mech's two arms and an array of weapons for dispatching waves of incoming enemies.

The PC version offers a free stand-alone competitive multiplayer mode. This also gives you full control over your mech, so you can move in all directions; a robust upgrade path; and unlockable mech chassis and skins. If you buy the campaign DLC on Steam, it'll also unlock some goodies in the multiplayer mode. This is one of the best VR games for those looking for a full fledged AAA experience in headset.

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

19. Batman: Arkham VR (Oculus Rift; PS VR; HTC Vive)

Batman: Arkham VR puts you right in the bat suit so you can take to the streets of Arkham City and get busy fighting crime. This game is from the earlier days of VR, so much of it feels like an extended, albeit very polished tech demo for a full Batman VR game. You'll teleport only to designated positions in the Wayne manor, the bat cave and out in the city, with most direct action consisting of throwing a bat-arang or calling in for support from your ship, the Nightwing.

The game emphasizes the detective side of Batman, so if you're looking for something slower paced and cinematic, this one might be worth your time. You'll have plenty of opportunities to examine your environment, pick things up, study crime scenes and otherwise immerse yourself in the world of Bruce Wayne, mostly at your leisure.

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

20. Fallout 4 VR (HTC Vive)

Like with Skyrim and its VR edition, Fallout 4 has gotten the full VR treatment, bringing over the full single-player campaign of Fallout 4 exclusively to HTC Vive headsets on PC. This puts you in a post-apocalyptic version of the area around Boston, where you'll come across various people, monsters and machines trying to survive in this harsh new world as you hunt down a missing member of your family.

The VR adaptation works just like it does in Skyrim VR, where you're free to walk about the world of Fallout at a room-scale level, use direct-control stick movement on your controllers, travel via teleportation from point to point or any combination of the above. This doesn't inherently rule out seated gameplay, but it's geared toward standing and at least some degree of turning and walking around.

(Image credit: Devolver Digital Croteam Publishing)

21. The Talos Principle VR (Oculus Rift; HTC Vive)

The Talos Principle is a first-person puzzle game, easily adapted fully into VR and suitable for any play-space configuration. In this game, you'll have to line up light beams to turn on and off force fields that block your path, manipulate blocks using motion controls, and solve other mind-bending puzzles while avoiding drones that seek to stop you. 

Where many of the best VR games focus on action, The Talos Principle offers something a little more chill and cerebral. This extends to the game's single-player campaign story. You play as an android being guided by a mysterious voice while you learn about the last days of humanity on Earth, and what your place will be within it.

(Image credit: Rockstar)

22. LA Noire: The VR Case Files (HTC Vive)

L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files brings a portion of the very impressive PS3 and Xbox 360 game to Vive headsets. You'll have seven cases to solve in this VR version of the game. Just as with the original, you'll need to gather clues and question suspects, taking into account if you think they're telling the truth or lying to your face. 

L.A. Noise famously uses facial motion capturing to make the characters look exceedingly realistic, which holds up even seven years after release. The game recommends a minimum of 2 by 2 meters of room space to move around in, so you can lean in and inspect items in people's homes, pick things up off of the ground and maneuver around the game's open-world comfortably. Provided you can set this up, you'll have an awesome time in this historic detective simulation.

(Image credit: Superhot Team)

23. Superhot VR (Oculus Rift; PS VR; HTC Vive)

Like the original Superhot, Superhot VR is a combat puzzle game in which you must clear a room full of enemy AI humans using a limited arsenal and one key mechanic: Time moves only when you do.

The VR version of the game is primarily a standing experience; you won't be walking around your environment, but you'll need to be able to turn around and duck behind cover in the space you have. You can take weapons directly out of enemies' hands, and you can fire bullets at incoming bullets to deflect them; in general, Superhot VR is one of the best VR games you can play on any platform.

(Image credit: Llamasoft Ltd.)

24. Polybius (PS VR)

Polybius is probably the strangest game on our list and also the one most likely to make you motion sick. Best to play this one seated, and if you have a weak stomach, try playing it on a normal TV first.

The game itself is a high-score, arcade-style shoot'em-up that relies on psychedelic "trancetastic" visual design and a truly awesome sense of speed even outside of VR. It's a little difficult to explain exactly what you need to do in Polybius, aside from shoot as many things ahead of you as possible while avoiding collisions with the solid objects that come hurtling toward you during the game's 50 linear levels.

(Image credit: CCP)

25. Eve: Valkyrie (Oculus Rift; PS VR; HTC Vive)

Eve: Valkyrie is set in the world of Eve Online, but has only competitive multiplayer spaceship combat. There is no single-player mode that's offline or features a traditional campaign; instead, you're placed in large battle arenas and must shoot down the opposing team's spaceships. You have a selection of ship classes, each with its own specialties and roles to play during a match. You have five different multiplayer modes to choose from.

This game is designed for a seated experience and for play using either a traditional controller or a keyboard and mouse. Eve: Valkyrie tracks your head movements to help give you visibility around your ship from inside the cockpit, but the game otherwise does not rely on motion-controller input. If you're looking for a truly immersive space combat experience, Eve: Valkyrie is one of the best VR games out there.

(Image credit: Sony)

26. Astro Bot: Rescue Mission (PS VR)

Astro Bot: Rescue Mission is a PS VR exclusive and might be one of the most creative platformers in VR yet. You control Astro, a small robot who must rescue his robot friends who are scattered about each level. Your perspective as the player is a third-person camera, so you'll need to bend down, turn around and look closely at the environment to spot the trapped robots as well as other hidden collectibles. You'll need to focus on your own position and Astro's at the same time if you want to succeed.

The game is an example of the platforming and creative camera control that is truly possible only inside of VR. You'll need to use various gadgets to make your way past the obstacles and find all the robots in each level, as well as take on bosses at the end of each world.

(Image credit: Capcom)

27. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (PS VR)

The first first-person instalment of the famous horror franchise works even better when you don your VR headset. Resident Evil 7's VR support is exclusive to PS VR, and the terror this game delivers really ramps up when you're placed directly in the shoes of Ethan Winters in the Louisiana swamp. As Winters searches for his missing wife, Mia, this first-person horror game returns to Resident Evil's survival roots and requires you to carefully manage your inventory and resources in order to survive.

There's also a fair bit of puzzle-solving to do, in between fighting or running for your life from the creepy mold monsters that have infested the Baker family's derelict home. With limited ammunition, save points and health, you'll explore the house and its surrounding grounds, with the tension not letting up until you make it all the way through the night...

(Image credit: Polyarc)

28. Moss (Oculus Rift; PS VR; HTC Vive)

Moss is a cute action/puzzle platformer that has you guide a small mouse, named Quill, through a fantasy world. She must save her uncle from Sarffog, an evil fire-breaking snake that has taken over the kingdom. Moss plays best while you're standing, as you control Quill from a distance and will need to lean in to better view her surroundings, fight enemies and jump across gaps.

The game's environments are set up like dioramas for the player to peer into, adding to the game's storybook atmosphere. You control Quill directly using the controller's direction buttons, but you also need motion controls to manipulate the environment and help Quill get past obstacle. You'll also need a bit of space around you if you want to search for all the collectibles, which will require you searching high and low.

(Image credit: Scott Cawthon)

29. Five Nights at Freddy's: Help Wanted (PSVR; HTC Vive)

If your idea of a good time is exploring a haunted restaurant with killer animatronic robots on the loose, then have we got a game for you. Five Nights at Freddy's has finally made the jump to VR so you can get your jump scares from the closest possible perspective.

In Five Nights at Freddy's VR: Help Wanted, you have a collection of fifty mini games to play, based on the other games in the franchise. These include VR recreations of levels from the previous games, as well as some new unpleasant surprises.

If you make it through the games,  you're still not done. There's collectibles of various kinds to find, and also the "Blacklight mode" of every level to play, which adds new scary elements into the mix to keep you on your toes.

(Image credit: Steel Crate Games)

30. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (Oculus Rift; Oculus Go; Gear VR; PS VR; HTC Vive)

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is best described as an asymmetric co-op game. What that will mean to most people is this is the top pick of the best VR games that you can play with your friends, since you need only a single headset, which is fantastic news for large groups or players who suffer from motion sickness.

This is a game that involves one person in VR in defusing a bomb. This player sees and manipulates a complex explosive device using all kinds of buttons and wires. Those outside of VR need to use an instruction manual that they can pull up on their phones or a computer screen to figure out how to defuse it. It's key to communicate as accurately as possible, lest the bomb go off from a bad move or a time-out.

(Image credit: Mojang AB)

31. Minecraft VR/Minecraft: Gear VR Edition (Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality; Gear VR)

Minecraft's VR transition has been a little rockier than one might expect, but we did eventually get a VR version for Gear VR headsets as well as a VR mode in the Windows 10 version of the game. They put you right in at ground level in the world of Minecraft, where you can build to your heart's content, or go adventuring to gain resources the hard way.

For owners of powerful Android smartphones, Gear VR can be a good alternative to traditional VR setups. However, you'll, of course, need an external controller since your phone will be strapped into the Gear VR headset during use. But if you want the best possible experience, you'll need a proper Oculus or Microsoft headset to use with the PC version.

(Image credit: Experiment 7)

32. Catan VR (Oculus Rift, Oculus Go, Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, Microsoft Mixed Reality and PSVR)

Catan VR takes the real-world experience of playing the tabletop board game Settlers of Catan and adapts it lovingly for the VR space. You'll sit at a table with up to three other players online and use motion controllers to select and place your pieces in an otherwise-quite-traditional game of Catan, building settlements, gaining and trading resources on a randomized board. The charm of the VR version is that, even though you're playing online, you can still see and gesture at your opponents or teammates as if you were in the same room.

Catan VR is one of the standout games for Oculus Go, the all-in-one VR solution that doesn't rely on a smartphone, game console or beefy PC and is available for under $200. And thanks to cross-play, you can play against any other VR system, not just other Oculus owners.

How to choose the best VR game for you

When buying one of the best VR games from this list, always check the compatibility info. Even the best VR games aren't always available on every system. Make sure you're picking out a game you can actually play with your headset.

Also be sure to look at a game's space requirements. Some games can be played sitting down. Others may require or have the option for you to move around your playing area. If you have a large room, you shouldn't find this a problem, but if you're more hemmed in, pick the best VR games that don't need you to walk, run or leap around so much.

If you're a new headset owner who is unsure about which of these games you want to play, have a look for the best VR games on this list with free editions first. While many games only exist as VR titles, or as separate editions, some games that can have VR support bundled in. If you've just bought a headset, check your existing collection of games, and you might find something you can play already. Alternatively buy a VR-optional game so you can play it without a headset if you aren't in the mood for VR.

Richard Priday

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. He's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.