Good coffee is not a question of doing one thing right. It is a collection of little things that together make things work. You can make some major screw ups that will make your morning pot irreparable, such as buying coffee from somebody besides us, but, generally speaking, it is the little things that count.
Buy good beans. Make sure they are fresh. Make sure they are roasted the best way for that bean. The body of an Indonesian coffee does not fully develop until later in a roast, therefore we take it darker. The subtleties of some Latin American coffees would be lost if taken to the same degree of roast.
Store them correctly. The enemies of coffee are heat and humidity, so seal them up and put them someplace cool. Do not put them in the refrigerator or freezer. The fridge has too much humidity and the freezer damages the flavor oils that make coffee good. We would rather have you buy less coffee than have it go horribly wrong because it sat around too long.
Whole bean is better. Unroasted green coffee has a shelf life of about two years. Roasted whole bean coffee has a shelf life of about three weeks (if properly stored). Ground coffee begins to degrade after 24 hours.
Buy a burr grinder (we recommend and, of course, sell the La Pavoni Burr Grinder). Your coffee will keep longer and the smell of ground coffee is worthwhile.
Brew to the correct temperature. Coffee should be brewed at between 195 and 205 degrees. Most home brewing equipment comes in at about 180 to 185. If you are brewing at 160, you are not unlocking all the flavor from your coffee. It might be time for a new brewer.
Use the correct coffee grind. It should take about 3.5 minutes to brew a 48 oz. pot of coffee. Any longer and your grind may be too fine. Any quicker and your grind may be too coarse. The water needs the right amount of time to unlock the flavor from your coffee.
Use filtered water. Sometimes it isn't the coffee that is bad. Even city water has a collection of things you may not want in your coffee. Furthermore, the minerals can sometimes gunk up your brewer over time.
Don't leave it on the burner. Coffee is delicate burners are evil. Drink it faster or use an airpot or thermal carafe. Just don't burn it.
Use the correct amount of coffee. We recommend 1.5 tablespoons per 8 oz. of water. Using too little coffee makes it bitter. Using too much makes it harsh. It is better to put too much in and then dilute it with hot water (commercial brewing equipment does this automatically).
The most important thing is that you enjoy your coffee. Do as many things from above as you can, adjust to your personal preferences and time constraints, and then fake the rest.