It’s easy for any coffee lover to get lost in bad coffee. Just fill it with sweetener and cream, and you won’t ever know the beans are old and stale, and the grind isn’t the best for the brewing process. However, well-brewed coffee isn’t usually bitter, it can even be sweet and flavorful enough to stand on its own without any additions. If you’re a dark roast lover ready for a change, then these tips could change your coffee forever.

Find Your Favorites
First, find your beans. You might enjoy what you find at the grocery stores, but if they’re not scratching the itch, try local roasters. Local roasters will usually be fresher and more available for advice than buying online from a distance. Not sure where to find a local roaster? Check with a farmer’s market for roasters. They will usually have samples to try, so you can get a feel for exactly what you love or hate. They might even sell their beans in a store near you.

Freshness Counts
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s fresh. It should have a recent roasting date on the bag. Darker roasts will go stale more quickly, so go for as fresh as possible. You’ll learn how your favorites fare from there. Try buying what you need for only a week or so and adjust accordingly.
If you’re willing to grind your own coffee, buy a whole bean. Once the bean is ground, the oils break down much more quickly. Stale beans are still food safe, but it is one of many sources of that odd bitter flavor. The smaller the grind, the faster it will go stale. Coarser grinds can go stale in as little as days, while espresso fine grounds can go within minutes.

So, if you have been digging into a bulk tub of espresso ground beans for the past three years, do yourself a favor and replace them.

As for the best quality and flavor, fluid bed air roasters will be kinder to dark roasts than drum roasters. It removes the chaff, a source of bitterness for dark roasts, during the roasting process while minimizing the smoke the beans are exposed to. This results in a less burned, smoky, charcoal flavored bean. Feeling brave? You can roast your own beans with equipment as simple as a popcorn popper!

Brew It Up!
Ready to brew? While brewing espresso is a whole different bag of beans, you can improve other brewing methods in one quick change: Adjust your temperature. If you’ve been simply boiling your water, it may be too hot. Like tea, even small temperature changes can result in drastic flavor differences. Try heating your water to around 190F. The easiest solution is a tea kettle with heat controls since it is designed to heat to a delicate 130F just as accurately as 205F. Otherwise, you could heat water alongside a reliable digital thermometer.
Brew and serve only what you will drink before it cools as dark roasts are prone to developing bitter flavors as they cool.