How to choose the ideal bean for you
Choosing which coffee beans to buy is one of the biggest challenges that people new to the coffee world have to face. To make things easier, we’ve prepared a small guide on how to pick the best coffee beans for your specific taste.
One of the biggest mistakes people make with coffee is thinking that it keeps forever. Coffee is a fruit – a cherry in fact – and just like any other fruit, fresh is always best.
We recommend buying beans as freshly roasted as possible and finishing it no later than three weeks after the printed roast date for maximum enjoyment.
The choice of blends or single origins is very subjective of course, but as a general rule, most coffee experts agree that blended coffee beans are best if you prefer your coffee with milk. If your chosen beverage is black, then chose a single origin.
Most of the time, the single origins used in blended coffee have been chosen to create a complex and balanced espresso while still having a milk-based beverage in mind. Blended coffees have been carefully selected to provide increased body or to simply add some floral complexity in order to help balance the espresso.
A single-origin coffee, on the other hand, allows the coffee drinker to appreciate the specific nuances that a particular growing region provides, which is why they are easier to enjoy and more suitable for black coffee drinks, without the risk of the milk weakening the subtleties of the flavour.
Specialty coffees take this selection process to the next level of refinement and is used to describe the highest grade of coffee available that is both farmed and brewed to a significantly higher than average standard. Specialty coffee is typically grown in three continents: South and Central Americas, Asia, and Africa.
Decaffeinated coffee is coffee from coffee beans that have had at least 99% of their caffeine removed. Many people think that decaffeinated coffee is a lower-quality product than regular coffee, but that isn’t actually the case. Done properly, even an expert has a hard time telling the difference between the two.
Coffee grows in the warmer latitudes between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn in a narrow subtropical “coffee belt” that stretches around the world, giving rise to vast array of geographical and temperate variables including altitude, rainfall, soil conditions and sunlight, all of which will alter the outcome of how the coffee will taste.
African coffees are best for fruity flavours and floral aromas while South and Central American coffees provide clean coffees with a delicate sugar browning sweetness, like chocolate or buttery pastry, accompanied with a softer fruit character. Brazil produces coffees with a heavier body and peanut character, while further north in Colombia the flavours are more mellowed and typically present more so as caramels and toffees.
If you prefer a heavier bodied and more earthy coffee, then consider Indian and Indonesian regions as they provide a luscious and syrupy body combined with herbal and savoury flavours.
Coffee grows in the warmer latitudes between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn in a narrow subtropical “coffee belt
Fruits come in many different varieties, each with their own particular taste and consistency and each one preferred for specific, very subjective reasons. Since coffee is a fruit, variety plays just an important role in choosing the perfect flavour. The most common coffee varieties are Bourbon, Typica and Caturra, while the Geisha variety, believed to have originated in Ethiopia, is one of the most sought after on the planet.
The processing method should always be noted on the outside of coffee packaging as this will indicate a completely different coffee experience in the cup.
Washed coffees generally offer a very clear flavour profile with an accompanying complex acidity, whereas “natural” processed coffees often have a spectacular aroma and wine-like characters.
One final attribute to consider is the growing altitude of the beans as this has a significant impact on the sweetness and acidity of the cherries. Sugar is a valuable energy source for a coffee plant and if this is cultivated in a harsh environment, it will use more sugar to survive, meaning less ends up in the final bean.
Generally speaking, beans that grow above 1,500m asl (above sea level) will generally exhibit a refined sweetness and acidity, whereas beans that grow lower down at 1,000m asl – 1,250m asl (Brazil or India) will present a noticeably mellowed acidity and more earthy tones.