7 Tips for Making the Best Coffee Ever

Every coffee lover should consult these important rules (and handy tricks) before brewing another pot of java.
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A Better Brew

If you’re already a fan of the stuff, you likely don’t need convincing that coffee is a good thing. Not only does it wake up your senses and brain to prepare for the day, but it’s also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and mental deterioration. But really, those who sip coffee do so chiefly because it tastes good — and what if you could make that morning cup even better? Here are seven ways to improve your brew.

By Sara Dreibelbis for Food Network Kitchen

Start with Whole Beans

Freshly ground coffee beans have a stronger, fresher flavor and retain more of coffee’s natural antioxidants and flavonoids than preground versions. Whole beans also last longer: An open bag of beans will remain tasty for two weeks, while the ground stuff will last for only one. 

Don't Store Coffee in the Freezer (or Fridge)

Moisture is the enemy of a decent brew. When you dig into a bag of beans from the freezer every morning, you expose it to humidity — not to mention odors from the other foods around it. Plus, the beans can get freezer burn. Instead, keep beans in an airtight container in a cool, dark place like the pantry.

Buy Beans in Small Batches

When properly stored (remember, in the pantry!), coffee beans won’t ever really go bad. But as beans age, they will lose their flavor. Purchasing smaller quantities ensures that you always have fresh, tasty coffee available. Plus, it allows you to try new roasts and blends more often.

Heat More Than Just the Coffee

You know why they stack the coffee cups on top of the cappuccino machine at your favorite Italian restaurant? To keep them warm, which helps your coffee stay hot longer. To keep your mug toasty at home, fill it with hot water while you wait for the coffee to brew. If you take cream or milk, heat it in a mug in the microwave before you add your java. 

Make Your Own Flavored Blend

Don’t limit yourself to the varieties at the grocery store. Try adding a spent vanilla bean (meaning you’ve already scraped out the seeds), ground cinnamon (or other baking spices), fresh herbs, dried fruits or citrus zest to the filter before brewing. Or toss a cup of ground beans with some of your favorite flavor extract.

Fake Froth in a Microwave

If you're not ready to spring for a machine that makes the real thing, you can get very close with this trick: Heat 1/2 cup of milk in the microwave until small bubbles just start to form (about 1 minute). Whisk vigorously, scooping out the foam and transferring it to a small bowl as it rises to the top. Pour the warmed milk into 1/2 cup very strong coffee (or 1/3 cup espresso) and top it off with the reserved foam. 

Old Coffee Is Good Coffee

You might not want to reheat it, but the leftover coffee from this morning's brew is worth saving. Make coffee ice cubes to chill an iced mocha without watering it down. Freeze coffee in a loaf pan and then scrape with a fork for a bracing granita. Or save old coffee in the fridge to add to chocolate cupcake batter, vanilla frosting, chili, marinades and braises. 

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