When Sunday morning dawns, dark and damp, sometimes the only motivation for abandoning your down-comforter cocoon is the promise of a good cup of coffee. But have you ever wondered, while padding about your kitchen, waiting for the pot to expel its brew-ending burp, whether your coffee is really the best it can be?

We did. Thus began our noble quest for the perfect cup.

Luckily we live in a city that’s ideally suited for such a crusade. Portland’s coffee intelligentsia includes more than 30 roasters, four coffee-obsessed magazines, competition-winning baristas like Albina Press’s Billy Wilson and one of the largest coffee schools in the world, where javaphiles can spend an entire weekend learning how to pull a shot.

For this group of apostles, coffee isn’t just a career; it’s a calling.

From their sermons about terroir and roasting and tasting and brewing, we extracted these commandments, which we now serve to you in this handy five-part primer. We apologize in advance if, while perusing, you become a bit of a coffee snob along the way, but even if you only embrace one or two of our tips, such as buying a burr grinder or brewing fresh-roasted beans, you’ll taste the difference (especially after you’ve educated your palate; see p. 91). Take the full tutorial and that morning brew will be a drink transformed—from a cup that merely stimulates to one so heavenly you’ll want to throw off the sheets, from a cup that’s only adequate to the Holy Grail of goodness, what we call a cup divine.

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