When it comes to overbearing snobs, the coffee connoisseur ranks somewhere in between the prickly wine person and the dreaded obscure vinyl record collector. “Wait—you buy your beans from where?” he asks, incredulously, before recoiling at the word “Starbucks.” But on one score the snobs are actually right: If you’re still rocking your Mr. Coffee from college, it’s time to upgrade. In addition to better flavor, a higher-quality cup of joe (which is non-filtered and contains less oils) is shown to have healthful upsides, such as lowering cholesterol and risk of heart disease. At first it may seem intimidating, what with all the different beans and expensive equipment, which in today’s overly caffeinated age includes gravity-defying contraptions and machines with more parts than a combustion engine. But the journey to knowledgeable barista is surprisingly easy, just so long as you invest in these basic categories.

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