To me there is nothing more enjoyable than waking up on a lazy weekend morning and pressing the brew button on my favorite coffee machine. Listening to the water percolate into the grounds and smelling the wonderful aromas that result is a truly amazing process. I've learned through the years that pressing the button on your coffee maker is not the only step in the process when it comes to producing fantastic coffee. While there are no mysterious secrets when it comes to brewing a good cup of coffee, your choice of machine plays an important role. This article will explain why your choice of machine has such an influence on the final cup quality and will also detail the features to look for in a machine regardless of its price.

There are only a handful of basic steps that you need to follow to dramatically improve your coffee experience. The following is a list of recommendations that will get you producing a consistently good cup from the moment you implement them:

1. Water temperature is key – in order to extract the most flavors out of your beans it's critical that your machine is capable of brewing within a specified temperature range of 195-205 Fahrenheit. Temperatures below this range will not extract sufficient flavor compounds, which will result in a weak cup. On the other hand, temperatures above this range will tend to produce a bitter cup. While the brewing water temperature won't be listed on the box or within the owner's manual, there is information available for a variety of different capable machines on various websites such as Coffee Geek.

2. Use whole beans and grind just prior to brewing – most of you reading this article are likely using pre ground coffee in your machine, and while this is fine, it is not the best way to achieve maximum flavor. Instead, you should use freshly roasted beans and grind them seconds before placing them in your machine. Ground coffee loses much of its original flavor and aromas within seconds of being ground, which is why it smells so good directly after that point. Consider purchasing a conical burr type grinder for best results, since these grinders will produce a consistent grind without pulverizing the beans like blade grinders do.

Assuming you follow the suggestions above, your choice of machine will depend largely on your available counter space and on how many people you're brewing for. Those brewing for themselves should consider purchasing a single cup coffee machine while others may want to consider a 3, 6 or even a 12 cup brewer. I would recommend against choosing an "all in one" machine with an integrated grinder, since all of these machines contain an inferior blade type grinder.