How to Make a Good Cup of Coffee, According to a Barista

If savoring a morning cuppa is your favorite part of the day, you need these coffee-making secrets now.

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Coffee Beans background
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Choose High-Quality Coffee Beans

Whether you want to try out a coffee subscription box or pick up beans from a local coffee shop, choose high-quality beans for your coffee. It makes a world of difference! When looking for coffee beans, here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Purchase coffee roasted in the past 2 to 4 weeks. Freshness is essential.
  • Find a company that lists tasting notes for the flavor profile of the coffee. This demonstrates that the company is competent in coffee roasting.
  • Does the company also talk transparently about its sourcing and relationship with its farmers? This usually indicates a roaster puts care into their coffee roasting.
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Close-Up Of Roasted Coffee Beans In Jar On Table
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Keep Your Coffee Beans Fresh

For coffee beans to retain their quality, store them in an airtight container. You can store them in a Mason jar, resealable plastic bag or the resealable bag that the coffee comes in. What’s important is that it’s sealed at all times. If you don’t go through coffee beans very quickly, it can be a good idea to store them in an airtight container in the freezer. Wondering about the caffeine content in your morning cup o’ joe? Find out how much caffeine is in your coffee.

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Weighing coffee on a scale

Use a Scale for Measurements

This adjustment may seem minor, but using a scale at each step of the brewing process is an easy way to make a good cup of coffee. The coffee bean to water ratio is important, but many coffee machines mark a cup as 5 ounces instead of 8 ounces. And people often add a scoop of coffee grounds, which is not an objective unit of measure.

For more precise measurements, follow our guide on how to make French press coffee. Keep in mind that different types of coffee require different ratios, but when in doubt, the Specialty Coffee Association of America suggests a ratio that calls for 55 grams of coffee for every 1,000 grams (one liter) of water.

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coffee in a coffee filter
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Use High-Quality Coffee Filters

Paper coffee filters will absorb some of the flavors of the coffee as it’s being brewed. This is why a reusable coffee filter is often the best choice for brewing coffee and for the environment. If you prefer a paper filter, look for one that fits your coffeemaker or pour-over maker properly. This ensures that your coffee brews evenly and tastes its absolute best. Learn more about the right way to insert a coffee filter.

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Barista bring the coffee ground powder to the paper filter before brew coffee.
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Grind Right Before Brewing

Though purchasing pre-ground beans may save you a couple of minutes in the morning, ground coffee loses flavor over time as a result of prolonged exposure to air. That makes it less flavorful when brewed. This is one of the most common mistakes people make when brewing coffee at home. If you grind your own coffee beans, the improvement in your morning coffee will be undeniable!

We’ve done the work for you and rounded up the best coffee grinders according to different needs. Remember: Burr grinders are more effective and produce a more consistent product than a cheaper blade grinder.

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Midsection of man pouring water in French press while preparing coffee at home
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Use Filtered Water

If the water you use to make your coffee tastes funky, chances are your coffee will, too. Use filtered water when brewing so your coffee comes out tasting just the way you want it to. Whether you’re brewing in a drip coffeemaker or a percolator or any other brewing method, water quality makes a big difference.

It’s also important to make sure your water is at the right temperature for maximum flavor extraction, which the Specialty Coffee Association of America says is between 198° and 202°F.

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Woman pouring herself hot coffee to a mug.
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Select the Right Brew Method

There are pros and cons to different brewing methods. Find a method that works best for you, whether that’s a good old-fashioned coffeemaker, an AeroPress or something in between.

If you’re just getting started, you can’t go wrong with the pour-over method. A pour-over setup may require more effort than an automatic coffeemaker, but it will allow you to tweak different aspects of the brewing process to adjust the way your coffee tastes. And unlike many automatic brewers that produce coffee by soaking grounds with several small streams of water, a pour-over allows the beans to be saturated with one steady stream that will bring out the optimal flavor of the coffee.

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Cleaning the coffee maker's horn under the water of the water tap, close-up. Caring for the coffee machine parts
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Keep Your Coffeemaker Clean

If your coffeemaker has icky residue, it can make your coffee taste bitter. It can also shorten the life of your coffeemaker. Be sure to rinse out your coffeemaker after each use so that coffee residue doesn’t build up over time. Then learn how to clean a coffeemaker for tips on how to do a deep clean.

Hannah Pugh
Hannah Pugh is a former assistant editor for Taste of Home. She focused on writing affiliate content product reviews, newsletters and recipe collections. In her free time, she can be found sipping coffee at cafes, reading or rock climbing with her husband.