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Many of us rely on our beautiful cups of coffee to help us greet each and every morning. If you’re a coffee lover you may want to read on and see how you might enhance the flavor of your morning wake-up brew.

Did you know that coffee beans are actually seeds of a cherry-like fruit? Coffee trees produce the coffee cherries which are first green and later red. Each fruit has two beans inside. They’re ready to pick when the cherry is bright red. Then the beans go through a fermentation process to aid in removal of a mucilage layer surrounding the beans. The flavor of each bean is determined by such things as the altitude, rainfall, and soil type of the growing area as well as the ways the beans are processed after picking.

If you’d like to improve the flavor of your morning brew, first take a look at your coffee maker. It should be cleaned at least once a month by running with water and either vinegar or baking soda. After that run-through, do several more with water only. This will clean out any rancid oils left by earlier brewing.

Assess the quality of your drinking water. If it is high in minerals or other impurities you may want to begin using filtered or distilled water for your coffee. If your coffee tends to be bitter you can add a tiny pinch of salt to remove that bitterness.

In general your coffee maker is designed to make coffee in increments of five or six ounce teacups. So a pot which says it makes twelve cups will fill only five or six large mugs. Plan on using two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of water poured into the coffee maker. Of course you’ll vary your measurement according to your desired strength.

Be sure you’re storing your beans properly. Oxygen, light, moisture or high temperatures all can compromise the flavor of your coffee beans. So store them in an opaque, airtight container. Never place coffee in the refrigerator or freezer. The beans will absorb moisture and odors from other food products. It’s best to purchase valve-sealed bags of coffee rather than vacuum sealed ones. The beans have had to sit out for forty-eight hours before vacuum packing and have already been somewhat compromised.

Always grind your beans just before brewing. If possible, select a burr grinder which produces a more even grind. Ground coffee should have the texture of poppy seeds. Blade grinders, more available, tend to grind unevenly. Grind the beans for the appropriate time according to the kind of coffee pot you’re using. Follow the handy chart below:

5-10 seconds coarse grind       for cold water brewing and percolators

10 seconds medium grind       for electric drip and French press

15 seconds find grind       for vacuum and flip methods

25-30 seconds  extra-fine grind      for espresso machines

You’ll need to experiment a bit to select the “just right” beans for your coffee. The strength of the coffee is determined by how long the beans have been roasted. A strong bean has been roasted for approximately twelve to fourteen minutes while the mildest may have been roasted only about seven minutes.

The best coffee is grown in the high altitudes of a tropical climate. Those places are found near the equator. Coffee is grown in more than fifty countries. Some of the biggest producers are Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Columbia and Brazil, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Kenya, Yemen, Indonesia and Vietnam.

So grind and brew, then sit back and enjoy that delicious rich brew we call coffee.

National Coffee Association