Coffee is a ubiquitous part of many of our lives, and if you’re someone who partakes, it’s likely you have preferences when it comes to your morning (or afternoon) cup. Nobody likes waking up with a mediocre brew; luckily, it’s not hard to make yourself a top-notch beverage if you know what you’re doing!

Get familiar with the different brewing methods.

Some people are perfectly happy with a quick cup of instant coffee; others meticulously measure out the components for their french press. Regardless of your tastes, it’s worth learning about the different options available, and perhaps doing a bit of experimentation should you be looking for a better brew. Some common methods include:

Drip Coffee Maker: While non-electric drip coffee makers exist, the electric sort are the ones you’re most likely to encounter in the wild. These are your everyday, standard variety of coffee maker, and their benefits include affordability and efficiency. Because this brewing process is fairly quick, the coffee isn’t typically as strong as some other methods.

K-Cup/Nespresso: These two methods involve taking a pod and placing them in their respective Keurig or Nespresso machine and filling the machine with the appropriate amount of water. The pods will be perforated, and the coffee is brewed directly into your mug. The same applies to these as standard drip makers; While the coffee these machines make is typically a little weaker than other methods, these machines are known for their ease of use and time-saving.

French Press: This manual method involves mixing coffee grounds with hot water, letting the coffee brew for a few minutes, and then pushing down a ‘plunger’ to filter out excess grounds. If you’re grinding whole beans yourself, it’s best to make sure the grounds are a little more coarse when you’re using a french press.

Pour-Over: A pour-over coffee maker involves pouring hot water over a filter filled with your coffee grounds. The filtered coffee is collected in a carafe or directly into your mug.

Other methods like cold brewing, moka pots, and siphon coffee makers are also popular options; some methods are best for brewing regular coffee, while others are better suited for espresso. Choosing a method that fits your needs, regardless of what that method may be, will ensure that you have the best coffee-making experience.

Know your ratio.

The truth is that there’s no right or wrong ratio of water to coffee grounds– it all depends on how strong you like your coffee. With that said, there is a “golden ratio” that most connoisseurs agree upon 1-2 tablespoons of coffee for every six ounces of water. If you want to keep things simple, then think of it as roughly 2 tablespoons per cup. If your coffee is a little too watery for your tastes, or perhaps a little too intense, that’s when you know adjustments are in order.

Find the right roast.

Although every coffee is different, there are some general qualities you can count on depending on how light or dark a roast is. In simple terms, the darker the beans, the longer they’re been roasted. A light roast will typically yield a mellow, bright, and flavorful brew, while a dark roast will be smokier and more robust. By extension, a medium roast falls right in between. While you can get a lot more specific with your terminology– for instance, French roasts and continental roasts are specific types of dark roasts– all coffee beans fall somewhere on the light to dark spectrum. Light roast coffees are also slightly stronger, with more caffeine being retained alongside the coffee’s unique flavor notes.