If you’re a coffee aficionado, you probably enjoy brewing your own coffee at home. But have you mastered the art of coffee-making? Do you know that there are steps you could take to make your coffee taste even better? Well, if you want the best coffee, there are some rules to be observed. Just observe the following coffee brewing principles and you’ll soon be soaring to new coffee heights.

Always buy quality beans

The quality of your cup of coffee largely depends on the beans you use. Don’t buy pre-ground beans, but instead go for coffee that’s whole and freshly roasted. You may have noticed that a lot of companies don’t provide the roasting date on the package. Don’t be surprised if the coffee you find on the shelves in the grocery stores has been living there for several months. Coffee’s flavor is at the peak within a few days after it’s been roasted, and starts to degrade quickly two weeks after.

Store your beans properly

To keep your coffee beans from going stale, it’s important that you store them the right way. Although many people recommend vacuum sealed containers, a mason jar can get the job done. What’s important is that you leave as little room as possible for air in the Mason jar. Oxygen is coffee’s number one enemy, as it encourages the growth of harmful microorganisms. It would be nice to have jars of multiple sizes so you can be storing it in the appropriately-sized container as you continue to brew through it. A one-quart jar can store about 12 ounces of coffee.

Grind your coffee right before brewing

Many experts say that coffee starts to lose its flavor within half an hour of being ground. For this reason, it’s best to grind your beans only when you know you’ll be brewing immediately afterwards. You may want to buy a grinder so you can be grinding the beans only as needed.

Keep in mind that grind size also matters a lot. Coffee that’s been coarsely ground will produce a weak flavor, but if the grind is too find, the coffee will be over extracted, resulting to a bitter taste. If you’d rather not spend big on an automatic burr grinder, you can still get a manual hand mill, which is affordable and works fine. You may also opt for a dual-purpose coffee/espresso machine, such as this one http://www.espressogusto.com/delonghi-magnifica/, so you don’t have to pay over the odds for a separate burr grinder.

Use the right water

When it comes to making coffee, the water you use also matters. Lots of people however overlook this aspect of coffee brewing. Think about it—how your water tastes is going to affect the overall taste of your cup of coffee, since most of it is water anyway. Avoid using hard water as it’s loaded with minerals and will therefore not blend very well with the ground coffee particles. With hard water, the result is usually an under-extracted, weak flavor. In addition, the mineral content will slowly build up in your coffee machine, which means you must de-scale it more often. Distilled water is on the other hand not also ideal for your coffee maker, as it can cause the water to “suck in” minerals from the metal components. It can also over-extract the coffee, leading to a bitter taste.

Brew coffee at the right temperature

There are many coffee makers that don’t reach the ideal brewing temperature. For drip coffee, the optimal temperature is 195F to 205F. If possible, use a thermometer to measure the temperature as the coffee brews, since the water temperature usually drops while passing into the carafe. If the temperature does not hit 195F, you may want to pre-boil the water in kettle. You should however ensure that the temperature does not exceed 205F, higher temperatures can “burn” the coffee.

Serve it promptly

Just like you should grind your coffee beans only when you’re ready to brew, so should you brew only when you’re ready to drink. If you leave your coffee sitting there for 15 minutes or more, it’ll lose its original flavor as well as natural oils that produce the fine taste. Another option is to pour your coffee into a thermos or insulated carafe immediately after brewing to ensure all of its goodness is preserved.