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We present a new class of methods for the global optimization of continuous variables based on simulated annealing (SA). The coupled SA (CSA) class is characterized by a set of parallel SA processes coupled by their acceptance probabilities. The coupling is performed by a term in the acceptance probability function, which is a function of the energies of the current states of all SA processes. A particular CSA instance method is distinguished by the form of its coupling term and acceptance probability. In this paper, we present three CSA instance methods and compare them with the uncoupled case, i.e., multistart SA. The primary objective of the coupling in CSA is to create cooperative behavior via information exchange. This aim helps in the decision of whether uphill moves will be accepted. In addition, coupling can provide information that can be used online to steer the overall optimization process toward the global optimum. We present an example where we use the acceptance temperature to control the variance of the acceptance probabilities with a simple control scheme. This approach leads to much better optimization efficiency, because it reduces the sensitivity of the algorithm to initialization parameters while guiding the optimization process to quasioptimal runs. We present the results of extensive experiments and show that the addition of the coupling and the variance control leads to considerable improvements with respect to the uncoupled case and a more recently proposed distributed version of SA.