Did you know coffee can have subtle flavors like caramel, chocolate, citrus, apple, and even nuts without having to add any extra flavoring? It’s true! When coffee is prepared with care and a little patience, the possibilities are endless.

A bean’s origin is even identifiable by the taste and feeling in your mouth, because simple things like the elevation, temperature, and humidity affect the coffee’s growth to produce a variety of distinct flavors. You can successfully turn your bitter cup of caffeine into a drink that satisfies your taste buds by taking advantage of even just one of these 5 tips to dramatically improve your coffee.

1. Buy High Quality Beans

Grocery store beans may be more accessible in location and price, but the gold is going to be found in freshly roasted, high end coffee. Do some searching around for a local roaster or shop online.

Either way, make sure the beans are high quality and roasted within the last week or so, because the coffee will begin to stale after two or three weeks. If you’re not sure how to tell if a bag of beans is stale or low end, check out this guide and improve your coffee discernment!

2. Grind Those Beans Just Before Brewing

Being able to grind your coffee just minutes before brewing is a major step towards incredible coffee. Once ground, gasses and flavors are able to escape the bean in record time, leaving behind a drink with no personality. It’s important to buy whole bean coffee and grind it yourself. If you intend to buy a coffee grinder, make absolute sure it’s a burr grinder. Blade grinders will only chop up the beans, not truly grind them.

I am currently using the inexpensive and incredible Hario Mini Mill hand grinder. If you want something automatic that will require no effort, the Baratza Encore is one of the specialty coffee world’s favorites!

3. Measure The Coffee and Water

A common problem is that people use too much water and too little coffee, or the other way around, which does not produce a well balanced, flavorful cup of coffee.

In order to encourage perfect extraction of the flavor from the beans, you need to use the right ratios. The standard ratios of coffee to water are typically between 1:15 and 1:18. It’s not complicated, and most guides will give you specific numbers to brew with, but not every brew method calls for the same ratio. A good french press is going to be in that standard range, a moka pot is going to be dependent on the size of the brewer, and cold brew is going to take nearly twice as much coffee as normal. A simple scale would be a good investment.

4. Explore Alternate Brew Methods

The real trick is in exploring alternate brew methods. Having control over the temperature, coffee to water ratio, and brewing time will allow you to produce amazing coffee, unmatched by the mass produced, automatic drip machine.

You should instead begin looking into other ways of making coffee like the world renown french press, which boasts a thick body, and intense flavor. Or maybe the moka pot, a stovetop espresso maker is more up your alley. Don’t forget about the pour over cone, which will create a light body, sweeter cup. Any one of those options will be leagues ahead of your automatic coffee pot.

5. Drink it Black

It’s completely understandable to put extra flavoring in a bad cup of coffee, but after you’ve taken advantage of the previous tips, you will have no need for syrups. Each cup of coffee you brew will be your masterpiece. You won’t need milk to mask the bitterness or sugar to add flavor, the coffee will be experienced as it is meant to be, perfect.

Put aside the automatic machine, become the brewer you were born to be. There’s a whole world of new coffees to try and test with a myriad of brewing mechanisms and techniques. I recommend checking out the getting started guide if you want to explore further. Good luck, and happy brewing.