Coffee care 101

Coffee, like wine, chocolate and cheese, is essentially produce. Because it comes from a plant, it must be properly roasted, stored and brewed before you can get an optimal cup of your morning beverage.

Local roasters and coffee shop owners stress the importance of buying coffee beans that are not overly roasted, thereby preserving not just the desired effects of caffeine, but creating a flavor without bitterness.

They also recommend grinding your own beans because coffee loses its freshness, much like spices do, as soon as itís ground and exposed to the air. For drip coffee, they suggest a fine grind brewed with hot water for no more than three minutes.

Finally, they promote storing whole beans in an airtight container for no more than two weeks, to maintain top freshness. And no, donít put the beans in the freezer. Freezing affects the natural oils within coffee, which give the beans their flavor.