There's coffee. And then there's rich, roasted, perfection in a cup. If your morning routine includes nursing a mug (or more) of caffeinated goodness, you know the difference between the two. Here's the good news, you don't have to hit up the nearest Wawa or Starbucks for the best brew. We've got the secret to making it in your own kitchen.

Clean your equipment Whether you're a French-press or automatic coffee pot person, the lingering traces of yesterday's coffee won't do today's any favors. Make sure your tools – including coffee grinder and filters in the pot – are cleaned well after each use. Over time, residue from coffee-pots-past can make today's cup bitter. Use clear, hot water to clean out your equipment after use and then dry each piece thoroughly.

Fresh beans are the best beans When you're standing in the coffee aisle of the supermarket, the biggest bag might look attractive. Take a moment to assess, however, how fast you'll go through it. Aim for a one-to-two-week supply for a good quality home brew. Store your coffee in an air-tight container. Avoid clear canisters and keep your beans as close to room temperature as possible. In other words, that space next to the stove is no good, nor is the fridge. If you have the time and the inclination, buy whole beans and grind them yourself.

Note: About once a month, empty your air-tight container and wash it thoroughly. Oils from the coffee stored inside it can build up over time and leave you with a bitter blend.

Coffee is personal When it comes to coffee beans, there are no shortage of options. From different roasts to different varieties of bean, the taste of the java in your cup will vary with each choice you make. You'll find as many opinions about what's best, as there are many options. So, here's the secret: The best bean is the one that makes *your* taste buds sing. Sample a wide range of varieties and find what works for you.

Water is key If there's one thing coffee connoisseurs can agree on it's this: Even the best bean can yield a mediocre cup if the water's not right. The water you use matters. To brew perfection, start with cool, crisp bottled spring water. Use 16 ounces of water and 5 tablespoons of ground coffee to brew two, big, precisely perfect cups of joe. Trust us on this one.

Time matters too All that is good and wonderful about the best brewed cup begins to wane the longer your cup sits out. Only brew what you can drink in a sitting. Pour yourself a cup and take the time to savor it. If you have to brew and run, pour your coffee into a warmed, insulated travel cup. It'll retain its fresh-roasted goodness for about an hour.