Coffee is more than a drink – to those really in love with the stuff it’s a way of life. Some think it’s a cliché to say getting up in the morning without a coffee is unthinkable, but for some it’s every bit as true as it gets. But here’s the thing – even in circles where coffee is seen as every bit as important as the morning sunrise, the vast majority don’t make the slightest bit of effort to make their coffee all it can be.

Why does coffee almost always taste better from a coffee shop? It’s easy really – not only was it made by a trained coffee pro, but the machine it came from probably cost more than your car…literally!

So does this mean making amazing, café-quality coffee at home isn’t possible? After all, you’ve got all the right kit and take things seriously enough, so why does it never come out nearly as good as the coffee you end up spending a fortune on every week?

1 – Not Properly Cleaned Equipment

It is absolutely, completely, totally and 100% impossible to make perfect coffee without a perfectly clean machine. And this doesn’t mean just giving the whole thing a token polish every now and again, but rather keeping every part of it well and truly spotless inside and out.

2 – Dated Beans

Coffee beans are just like any other organic entity in the world in that the moment they are picked and certainly as soon as they are roasted, they begin to lose both flavour and nutritional value. Of course it’s not always possible to go out and buy new beans each time you want to make yourself a cup of coffee, so to some extent buying a stockpile is inevitable. That being said, it’s never wise to buy more than you’ll use in say a week or two at the most as after this length of time you really will notice the difference…and not in a good way.

3 – Going for Ground

It’s a point that bears reemphasising as many times as possible, so you’ll have to forgive us for repeating ourselves here. Just like with roasting, the very minute you grind beans into ground coffee, you begin the process of allowing the oils to dry up and the quality to generally fade. It’s a bit like peeling a piece of fruit and leaving it out on the open – place it next to an unpeeled piece and see which of the two looks the best in a few days.

4 – Choosing the Wrong Size Grounds

And even when you grind the beans yourself you can still get it totally wrong – in this case size really does matter! Every type of coffee machine and brewing method across the board demands a slightly different coarseness of grounds. For some the grounds need to be almost as fine as sand, while in others you’ll have to keep them much chunkier.

5 – Getting Your Ratios Wrong

Everyone has their own unique tips and tricks when it comes to getting the right ratio between water and coffee. Generally speaking, if you look around the two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of finished coffee you want to make, you won’t go far from. This can differ quite a lot though depending on the type of coffee you’re making, the machine you’re using and the way you actually like your own coffee to taste.

6 – Water Temperatures

Still on the subject of water, the temperature of the stuff is also something you need to take charge of and control over. To pour boiling water straight over the coffee is not the way to go – the water need to be ideally at 200 degrees Fahrenheit to get the maximum flavour out of the coffee.

7 – Water Quality

And just to round off with another hugely important water quality double-header that can also deal your coffee a bad hand. First of all, if the water you’re using has a high mineral content or is anything less than totally pure, it will impact the flavour of the coffee. As such, it’s a good idea to always use bottled or filtered water if at all possible. Last but not least, never fall into the habit of re-boiling a kettle full of water that you either forgot about or still have lying around. Coffee relies on a certain level of oxygen in the water and the more times you boil it, the more oxygen escapes and adversely affects the final brew. Boil it once and once alone!