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Coffee Brewing Basics: 9 Steps to Taking Your Morning Routine From Plain-Jane to Plain Awesome

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You crawl of bed, bleary-eyed, and meander to the kitchen to make your morning cup of java. You lackadaisically toss in some old grounds (who washes this machine, anyway?), pour in two (or is it three?) cups of tap water, click "on" and walk away. After awhile, you pour yourself a sort-of steaming cup of brownish liquid and sip on your daily jolt of bitter caffeine. You're better than this, right? You want to start your morning off like someone who is out to conquer the world and end the mediocrity already? Then let's the get the - surprisingly simple - art of coffee brewing basics under your belt so you can do just that.

1. Don't use gross equipment. Unless you like the flavor of last Tuesday's brew, toss those grounds immediately after brewing. Scrub out the ground residue with hot water and go Mr.Clean on that machine. Leaving bits of old coffee will result in, well, old coffee flavor. Use the lessons your mama gave you and keep a clean kitchen (or at least a clean coffee maker).

2. Less is more. This one's really important. Buy smaller batches of coffee and only buy what you need. Now, we all know big box stores will sell coffee in bulk. Save the bulk purchases for toilet paper and garbage bags, not for your everyday drink.

3. On the grind. If you're already buying whole-bean coffee, kudos to you, coffee connoisseur. If you're not, start. Once you have your whole beans, you'll need to grind them. No matter how excited you are to use the coffee grinder (they're pretty fun), don't grind the beans until just before you brew. Fresher is better, remember? Oh, and don't recycle coffee grounds and brew them again; refer to paragraph one, if necessary, to remember you are out to conquer the world, not drink old coffee.

4. Know your H2O. Water's water, right? Eh, not quite. When it comes to coffee-brewing water, remember three things: cold, bottled, not distilled. See, you can do this. 

5. Ratios matter. Now that you've invested in quality beans, good water and put forth the effort to actually sanitize your machine, you want to pay attention to the amounts of coffee and water you use. There's no hard and fast rule, but a helpful guideline is 1-2 tablespoons of ground coffee for every 6 ounces of water. Don't worry, math class starts and stops here.

6. You're getting warmer. Water temperature is another component to the perfect cup of joe. Your coffee maker should keep your water between 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. Water that's colder makes for flat coffee and water that's hotter creates tasteless coffee. Life is too short for either one of those options. 

7. Timing is everything. How long your water is in contact with the coffee is super important. Depending on your type of coffee (i.e. drip vs. espresso), the timing is different. For example, a drip coffee maker should have contact time of about five minutes. Try out varying time frames until you get a cup that suits your fancy.

8. Order up. Your coffee is brewed to perfection, and you can finally start your day off right. Don't let the poor coffee get lonely and abandon it for a few hours before reuniting. Ingest as soon as possible, or if transporting, pour into an insulated thermos.

9. Get a beautiful mug you love. This step may seem trivial, but when you spend every day with something, make sure you love it. Whether you prefer ceramic, stainless steel, floral patterned, or solid black, buy a coffee container you love to wake up to. Turn your morning into something special. You deserve it. 

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