7 Coffee Mistakes Keeping You from a Perfect Cup

7 Coffee Mistakes Keeping You from a Perfect CupBy Breana Lai, M.P.H., R.D., Associate Food Editor, EatingWell Magazine

For many of us, the promise of a good cup of coffee gets us out of bed in the morning. Somehow, prying off the warm covers doesn't isn't so hard when I know there is a warm cup of coffee waiting. But coffee is very personal. Everyone has a choice coffee-brewing vessel, coffee style and coffee mug.

Whether you choose to brew your coffee in a single-cup brewer, an automatic coffee maker or a French press, keep in mind there are variables that can affect the quality of the coffee you make. There is a reason the coffee from your local coffee shop tastes better. The coffee is freshly brewed, the beans were just ground, the milk was just steamed and the machine costs as much as a small car.

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While we can't all have the fancy machine (and barista to make the coffee), we can take some lessons from coffee shops to brew a perfect cup of coffee at home. Here are 7 of the most common and easily remedied coffee-brewing mistakes that stand between you and a great cup of coffee:

1. Dirty Equipment:
Make sure all parts of the machine have been rinsed thoroughly and no coffee or soap residue remains.

2. Old Beans:
If you can't remember when you bought your coffee, it's time to buy some new beans! Only buy as much as you will consume in 1 to 2 weeks.

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3. Pre-Ground Coffee:
Coffee that has already been ground is more susceptible to oxidation. Grinding your beans as close to brewing as possible ensures freshness.

4. Wrong Size of Grounds:
Each brewing method requires a different size of grind. Coffee that has been ground too fine is often bitter, but if ground too coarse it may be weak. Check the machine's manual to find out which size is ideal.

5. Wrong Coffee-to-Water Ratio:
For every 6 ounces of coffee, you'll need 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds. Using more, your coffee may be too strong and taste bitter; use less and you'll end up with watery, weak coffee.

6. Improper Water Temperature:
If the water is too hot, you can scald your coffee, and if it's too low, the flavors will be mellow. The water should be around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, or just before boiling (water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit).

7. Impure Water:
Tap water often contains minerals that can alter the flavor of your coffee. Use bottled spring water or filtered drinking water.

Related: How to Brew the "Greenest" Cup of Coffee

What are your tips for making a perfect cup of coffee?

By Breana Lai, M.P.H., R.D.

Breana Lai

Breana Lai, M.P.H., R.D., is an Associate Food Editor at EatingWell where she splits her time between EatingWell magazine, eatingwell.com, and cooking new healthy recipes in the test kitchen. Breana has a master's degree in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu London, a Wine Spirit & Education Trust trained sommelier and is a registered dietitian.

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