What Coffee Beans To Use?

We’ve all been there. Staring at a wall full of consumables, not knowing where to begin. You could choose wine, chocolate, potatoes or cheese. The sheer number of options and choices available to you can almost make it impossible to choose.

Coffee is no exception. There is so much information out there, so many options, that not everyone can help you choose the best coffee. We will show you some important factors to consider when making that crucial decision for you or your loved one. You can make the most important decision today, whether you are looking at a menu or buying some coffee beans.

Roast Freshness

Coffee keeps forever, which is one of the greatest myths ever. It is misleading to say that coffee can go ‘bad’ after two weeks.

What’s the deal? There is only one option. Coffee is a fruit. It’s actually a cherry. Fresh is always the best.

How can we know what fresh looks? You should look for beans with a clearly printed roast date. Coffee that doesn’t have this information on it is unlikely to be able to tell you. Be wary of packaging with a best before’ or a 2014 printed on it.

When should I buy my coffee? For maximum enjoyment, make sure you buy it fresh and don’t use it more than three weeks after its printed roast date. Most cafes will offer a range of optimum ‘peak flavour times’ between days 7 and 14. Although you can use beans for as long as 4 weeks, the flavour and quality of beans will begin to deteriorate after 14 days. You’ll find yourself with very sad cups and empty faces.

Filter roast is for manual brewing

Espresso roast for espresso machines!

Filter roast is for manual brewing

Espresso roast for espresso machines!

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Roast Profile

Here is where you can choose the brewing method that suits your preferences. There are no wrong answers, you just need to choose the best brewing method for you.

Espresso roast vs Filter roast. These tags indicate that coffees with these labels have been roasted using specific equipment, as the names suggest. A espresso roast coffee was developed in the roaster, further increasing caramelisation. This allows for a richer flavor and can be used to make delicious espresso. Filter roasted coffee is less developed to preserve more of the sparkling acidity that a filtered cup brew craves. If your coffee is prepared manually using a pourover, Aeropress or other immersion brewers like Clever Coffee Dripper, you will want bags that have a filter roasted label.

Mix or single origin
This is potentially very murky territory so I am using an unbiased brush to make the decision as simple as possible. A blend is best if you prefer to have your coffee with milk. Choose a single origin if you prefer black coffee.

With a blended coffee, most of the time, specific single origins have been chosen to use in that blend that create a complex and balanced espresso while still having a milk based beverage in mind. To balance the espresso, the coffees were carefully chosen to give more body and delicious brown sugaring flavours. For more awesome information on this check out this article; Blends — more than the sum of their parts.

A single origin coffee is from a single known geographic location, such as a farm or estate. This allows coffee drinkers to recognize the unique characteristics of a specific growing area. This means that a black coffee drinker will be more likely than a white coffee drinker to appreciate the subtlety of flavour without milk.

What about milk made from a single origin? Yes. A blend can be used as a black. You’re darn tootin’. It all depends on the origin used. Let’s continue…

Selection of Origin

Coffee grown in different countries will have different growing conditions and economic factors. This phenomenon is something wine drinkers have long appreciated. They expect to find distinct flavours and aromas in French wines that are different from Italian or Australian wines. The Tropic of Capricorn and Tropic of Cancer are the best places to grow coffee. This region is sometimes called the “coffee belt”. This band contains a wide range of variables, including altitude, rainfall, soil condition, and sunlight. All of these variables will affect how your coffee tastes.

How can I narrow down this vast selection to the ones I like? Blends that include African coffees are a good choice if you’re looking for fruity flavours and floral aromas. Coffee drinkers love the idea of opening a bag of Ethiopian coffee beans and inhaling the complex, berry-like aromas. You might even salivate over the idea of sipping on Kenyan coffee made with stone fruits.

If you’re looking for delicately sweetened coffees, such as chocolate or buttery pastry, and accompanied by a soft fruit flavor, South America and Central America might be the right place. It is highly probable that you will find a winner in this region, as most of the world’s coffee production comes from this region. Brazil is known for its coffees that have a stronger body and a peanut flavor (think Crompton Rd). These flavours are more common in Colombia, where they are found further north. Sounds delicious! Does that mean I don’t need to look anywhere else?

If you like your coffee darker in body and more earthy, you might consider the India or Indonesian regions. These coffees are often sweetened with herbal and savoury flavors. They can be divided and placed in the “Love or Hate” category.

Different varieties – All grown at Santa Felisa Estate in Guatemala.

Coffee Family Tree by Cafe Imports

Yellow Bourbon, Brazil

Typica hybrids, Bali

Different varieties – All grown at Santa Felisa Estate in Guatemala.

Coffee Family Tree by Cafe Imports

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Varietals

Apples are a great example of why coffee varietals play a role in preference, since they are a fruit. Apples are a favorite of most people (is there anyone else who doesn’t?). That’s a safe bet. However, preferences can be very different when it comes to choosing the apple variety. There will be strong differences of opinion about which apple variety is the best, such as a ‘Fuji, a ‘Golden Delicious, a ‘Pink Lady,’ or my favorite, the ‘Jazz.

The most common coffee varieties are Bourbon, Typica, and Caturra. Many countries prefer a certain variety of coffee, but it is not unusual to see different varieties transplanted to different regions. One of the most desired varieties on the planet is the Geisha variety. The Geisha coffee’s rich sweetness, clarity, and vibrant flavours are unparalleled. It can be paired with dark berries, mangos, or even peaches. The appropriate price tag will be applied to Geisha coffees, but this gift is perfect for someone who loves coffee.

Santa Felisa Estate in Guatemala: Experimenting with various processing methods

La Florencia, Nicaragua – Washed coffee drying

Ethiopian coffee drying by natural process

The processing of coffee at Minor Esquival’s farm La Pastora, Costa Rica’s yellow honey and black honey is shown (left)

Santa Felisa Estate in Guatemala: Experimenting with various processing methods

La Florencia, Nicaragua – Washed coffee drying

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Processing

You will often see the processing method of a coffee when you are selecting it. This is usually done on the coffee bag or menu. It is important to note that these factors can make a coffee experience different, even if it’s the exact same coffee.

The outer pulp from the cherry has been removed and the coffee is then fermented in tanks. After that, it’s washed and dried. This results in a coffee that has a clear flavour and bright, complex acidity. This method is very popular with coffee producers because it allows for controlled fermentation and results in fewer defects.

Natural processed coffee is a coffee with the cherry still on the bean and parchment during drying. This allows the fruit flesh and sugars of the coffee to be infused upon the seed. This produces a “fruit bomb” with an extraordinary aroma and wine-like characters. These are two of the most common methods, but there are many other options such as Honey Processed (somewhere in between Washed and Natural), and Wet Hulled.

Altitude

This valuable information can help us learn a bit about growing conditions. The altitude at which coffee is grown has a major impact on the acidity and sweetness of a cherry. A coffee plant can draw on sugar to provide energy when faced with unfavorable conditions. Smart move by the coffee tree. We are less savorable. Coffee likes temperatures between 18C and 23C. Higher altitudes are preferred to keep it at the same temperature while still receiving enough rain.

What numbers should I be looking for? Anything above 1500ma is considered high-growing and will usually exhibit refined sweetness and acidity. (Remember the delicious Kenyan coffees? Lower down, at 1000masl to 1250masl, the acidity is more mellowed and more earthy tones can be found. Think Brazil or India.

Let’s face it, when you want to choose a coffee to enjoy or to buy at home, take a look at the information you have been given. See what common features you see in the coffees that you like to drink. This information may allow you to make better choices when you are faced with a wide range of options, or it might open your eyes to new flavours that you didn’t know were possible. Check blackbearhardford for more info!

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