We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again. Coffee is more like a fine wine than any other beverage.
There’s an almost-absurd variety of coffee available, and choosing the one like best isn’t always that easy.
That’s where this guide comes in.
If you’re not sure how to choose the right beans and what affects the flavors, we’re here to help. So, keep reading to learn about what makes one bean better than the other.
Get To Know Your Coffee Regions
Due to the unique characteristics of the soil profile, it stands to reason that certain locations will produce better coffee than others. Altitude, sunlight, and rainfall all influence the final flavor profile of the coffee as they impact the bean’s growth.
If your bag of coffee doesn’t disclose its country of origin, this is a red flag. The best coffees come from Kenya, Hawaii, India, Ethiopia, Brazil, and Colombia, so keep an eye out for products from these regions.
Know Your Arabica From Your Robusta
Most coffee drinkers are familiar with arabica and robusta. While arabica has less sugar and more caffeine, robusta often has a greater bitterness and less acidity. As a result, it’s either utilized to make inexpensive coffees like the instant coffee mix or blends to produce a deeper, more powerful flavor.
Beans for single origin coffee come from just one place. Consider this to be similar to selecting a wine made from grapes of a single variety from a single vineyard. Usually, a single origin estate produces superior coffee.
Every single origin of single-origin coffee has a distinctive flavor with its own peculiarities. For instance, Jamaican Blue Mountain stands out from other types thanks to its pleasant and mellow flavor. If you choose a Kenyan AA, you’ll enjoy a full body and nutty flavor.
The greatest coffee, rich in flavor with a smoother finish and aftertaste, is typically cultivated on islands at lower altitudes. Lower yields typically cause price increases. St. Helena, an isolated island off the coast of Africa, produces some of the most expensive coffee in the entire world.
It’s important to carefully study the description and get single origin coffee from roasters who will get the most flavor out of the beans (more on roasting later). Blends are useful since single origin coffee isn’t often a particularly compelling beverage on its own. These normally include two varieties of coffee chosen for their complementary or opposing flavors.
High-quality blends are made for the best taste, but most supermarket coffee is a blend since it’s simpler to maintain the same flavor all year long. Robusta and arabica are frequently used in blends when the robusta’s strength is advantageous. Single-origin coffee is less common and has a wider range of supply.
What Is A Coffee Cherry?
When coffee grows, it forms a fruit or a coffee cherry. As with peanuts, the majority of coffee cherries have two beans inside, touching each other at their flatter edge.
However, peaberry coffee has just one bean inside the cherry and it resembles a rounder pea. The beans are normally smaller, but because of their spherical shell, they receive more even heating during roasting, giving them a better flavor.
Extra-large arabica beans like the maragogype bean, sometimes known as the elephant bean, are mainly grown in Brazil and this coffee is valued for its relative scarcity.
Understanding The Impact Of Roasting
All coffee beans are roasted, converting them from green to a recognizable brown color. The color of the beans changes as they roast because the sugars inside caramelize.
It’s a myth that dark-roasted coffee is more potent and contains more caffeine. It doesn’t. Due to the caramelized sugars and resulting burnt flavor, dark-roasted coffee has a stronger flavor. Actually, the word “intensity” is more appropriate for describing this stronger flavor profile.
Two cracks occur during the roasting process for coffee: the first occurs when the bean begins to audibly crack, rather like popcorn. The beans expand as their moisture evaporates and the heat forces the bean to fracture, which is what makes the cracking sound.
When the first crack occurs, the product is nearly complete because the beans have shed their dry outer layer (silver skin or chaff). Beans transition from light to medium roast after this and up until the second crack, establishing their original flavors. The beans get very dark and oily after the second crack, and the roast flavor becomes more apparent, giving the beans a taste that’s darker, more burnt, and strong.
The roasting profile should be tailored to the beans because it has an impact on flavor. Single-origin flavors are typically best preserved with a medium roast—anywhere after the first crack and before the second crack. If you take it too far, all coffee beans will start to taste alike. Cheaper beans are frequently darker roasted to add a more potent flavor to the coffee.
A single roast can be applied to all bean kinds in blends. However, split roasting, where each type of coffee gets roasted separately to bring out its best, is more frequently used. The final mix is then created using the beans.
How Long Do Coffee Beans Stay Fresh For?
No roasted coffee beans will ever maintain their flavor long-term as roasting contributes to a shorter shelf life. After roasting, coffee beans get degassed and carbon dioxide from inside the bean gets expelled during this process. Usually, this happens a week after roasting. Since carbon dioxide in water is acidic, its release oxidizes the coffee’s oils, changing the coffee’s flavor.
So, if you have a bag of beans that’s been around for a while or you’re about to buy one close to its sell-by date, rather opt for a fresher bag instead.
Pick The Coffee That Perks You Up
There are so many amazing types of coffee available, from the single original to exotic blends. Finding the flavor that you like best is often a trial-and-error process, and everyone’s tastes differ.
Hopefully, this guide gives you a great starting point and you now have a better understanding of where to start your search. Now, go out there and get caffeinated!