Its morning and you wake to the sound of an alarm that is your reminder that it is the beginning of a new day. You have a morning ritual which you follow almost every day of the week as you start off your day. Like most people, you want a little something to help you wake up and start off the day. For myself and many others, that quick morning start is a cup of hot coffee.

Coffee is such a popular beverage, that there are coffee shops that are built primarily around their coffee sales. Starbucks is probably the most popular of the all the coffee shops, with over 11,000 locations in the US alone. Starbucks has managed to change the coffee drinking experience with their specialty drinks and upscale atmosphere. They have built brand loyalty and their customers are willing to pay a little extra for Starbucks brand than they will for regular brewed coffee. 

There are several things to consider when brewing a great cup of coffee such as the type of bean, and preparation method.

Your personal preference might not be the same as others, so I believe that the best cup of coffee is the cup that you enjoy the most. We are going to take a look at what goes into making that wonderful brew. 

Coffee Bean:
As you expect, a fresh cup of java, begins with fresh beans. However, coffee beans are actually not beans at all; they are the pits of the coffee berries. The pits are usually separated from the berries in one of two methods. One method is called the wet method, where the berries are soaked in water until they separate from the pit. The second is the dry method where the berries are dried in the sun or a machine until the berry separates from the green bean. 

Nearly all the coffee consumed is made from Arabica or Robusta beans. The main difference between the two species of beans is the actual taste of the coffee. Arabica is the most popular and has a wider range of taste, while it is also more expensive than Robusta. Robusta is known to have a harder taste, that many people consider more of a burnt flavor when compared to the more popular Arabica bean. 

Roasting Coffee:
Coffee lovers range from the person that grabs a quick cup at the drive up window on the way to work, to the person that roast their own coffee beans at home in order to help get a fresher taste. Home roasters can cost on the average of $200, while premium green (un-roasted) coffee beans can be half the price of equivalent roasted coffee. To get started as a home coffee roaster, many people have turning inexpensive hot air popcorn poppers into a home coffee roaster. 

When roasting your green coffee beans, the beans need to be continuously stirred so the bean does not burn. After some time the bean will turn yellow and you will hear a distinct crack which is known as the first crack. Shortly after the first crack, the outer chaff will separate from the bean and normally gets blown away from the bean. After the first crack the bean is roasted further to achieve the desired darkness. 

While a freshly roasted, good quality bean is important in brewing a great cup, there are a few other items to consider when attempting to brew that perfect cup. A great cup of coffee is made up of at least 98% water. If your tap water taste good at room temperature, then it should be fine for brewing your coffee. If your water has an unpleasant taste, then that same taste will also be in your morning brew. Some people use bottled or filtered water in their coffee makers. Distilled water is missing minerals and should not be used. The water you use for brewing should be at room temperature, while the brewed coffee should be approximately 200F. 

There are several types of coffee makers and methods that can be used for preparing coffee. Drip, French press, and espresso are the most popular ways of creating a great cup.

Drip: The drip method is the most common method used in the United States. Basically, the ground coffee beans are placed into a coffee filter, and then hot water is poured through the grounds to produce the coffee.

French Press: The French press is said to produce the best tasting coffee. The French press consists of a container for holding the liquid and a lid with a plunger for pressing the grounds. This method requires using a course ground coffee that is put in the container and then the hot water is added to the grounds. The coffee should sit approximant four minutes, and then the plunger is used to press the coffee grounds to the bottom of the container. The coffee is then immediately poured into container to keep it warm and separate if from the grounds. 

Espresso: Espresso is made by forcing the hot water through finely ground coffee. It usually takes between 20 and 30 seconds to produce a cup, but it also requires the use of special equipment. Espresso machines usually range for one hundred to several hundred dollars.

The best cup of coffee is the one you personally enjoy the most.  So go ahead and grab your favorite coffee cup, and experiment with different beans and preperation until you find the combination that you enjoy best.