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5 coffee-making tips for brewing a better cup of joe

Drinking coffee is more than a routine that starts the day. It’s the routine that lets you know you’re still breathing.

That being said, it’s easy to get stuck in your ways. Stubbornness — or maybe just tiredness — can keep you from improving your coffee game.

We’re here to revive your routine and deliver the best coffee experience possible, directly to your caffeine-deprived brain. We don’t want you slipping — we want you sipping (perfectly-roasted coffee).

Here are five small changes that will bring a major improvement to your coffee agenda:

#1. Pre-Warm That Mug

If you’re in the pour-over camp, temperature is key. Getting your kettle to the right spot, just to have your coffee hit a cold mug, is a disservice to yourself (and those artisan beans you decided to splurge on). Before you add water to your ground beans and filter, pour a little of the hot H2O into your mug. Filling it about a third of the way will warm the walls of the mug during the few minutes it takes to brew your pour over. Your coffee will keep its temperature and flavor longer, kind of like putting your socks in the dryer before heading out into a blizzard. Which you should also do.

#2. Not-Quite-Boiling Is the Way to Go

200 degrees. That’s the water-temperature that all coffee Jacuzzis should be set to. If you’re boiling your water and pouring it directly over the grounds in your French press or Chemex, let it cool it for a bit while you take a run through last night’s Twitter happenings. 20-40 seconds of wait time after your boil should lower your water temperature to around 200 degrees. Patience will make your coffee better.

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#3. Don’t Be Precious with Your Beans

Use them. Use the heck out of your beans. Don’t save them for special occasions, because the further you get from the roast date, the weaker the flavor will be. Around the BA Test Kitchen, we describe the two-week old bean flavor as cardboard-y, because honestly, that’s what they start to taste like. Coffee can taste like a lot of things, but we’d rather it not taste like corrugated paper. Keep your bean supply on the smaller side (don’t freeze that stuff!), and use what you have, when you have it.

#4. The Golden Ratio

As a general rule, a 1:16 ratio of coffee to water is a great place to start for above-average beans (we’re talking the stuff you’d buy from an independent coffee roaster). We like to measure by weight (about 22 grams of coffee to 352 grams of water) for a precise ratio, but roughly it translates to about 3 tablespoons of coffee to every 12 ounces of water (or ¼ cup coffee to every 4 cups water). You can play with the ratio depending on how strong you want it.

#5. Wet Your Filter

Whether we’re talking pour-over or a classic drip machine, you should be wetting your coffee filter before putting any ground beans in it. Filters always have a flavor, despite their treatment, and hitting it with some water will help get rid of it. A damp filter will also hold tighter to the surface of your machine, preventing slips and mishaps. Just a bit of water will do, no need to go full monsoon.

This article originally appeared on Bon Appetit.

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