How to Choose Coffee Beans
If you want to turn your kitchen into the coffee shop of your dreams, you’ve got options. Channeling your inner barista begins with picking the perfect type of beans and with so many different roast styles and flavors, there is so much to choose from. While the complex world of coffee beans can seem intimidating at first, our fool-proof guide will help make it easy for you.
What Are The Different Types of Coffee Beans?
There is an endless variety of coffee beans from around the world, which can be broken down into two main categories: arabica and robusta.
- Arabica: Arabica coffee has clear and present acidity and offers a sweet and complex yet sometimes delicate flavor. It is known for being sweet and flavorful and is a great go-to for everyday sipping as it suits most pallets.
- Robusta: Robusta coffee tends to produce a more bitter taste — a sharp contrast to the sweet flavors and pleasant acidity produced by Arabica beans. Robusta coffee is generally easier to obain, given its ability to grow in a wider variety of climates, at lower altitudes, and its greater resistance to disease.
It’s also important to understand where your coffee originates from due to the impact that the soil, topography, and climate – aka terroir – plays in producing various types of beans. Coffee in Central America, for example, is generally known to be mellower in acidity, smooth, slightly nutty, and slightly fruity in taste. Coffee in Africa is a bit brighter and more floral in taste with hints of berries. The tastes can be dramatically different based on climate and location alone.
Just like location, altitude plays a key factor when choosing coffee beans. Generally speaking, the higher a coffee plant is grown, the sweeter the overall flavor will be. Given the cooler temperatures at high altitudes, the growth of the coffee plants becomes slower and slower the higher up you go, resulting in distinctive, complex, and exciting flavors.
There’s one more important factor to note (are you writing this down?) – coffee can be single origin or blend. Single-origin coffee means that it contains beans from one location only. Blend coffee is made up of beans from various locations. The difference? You guessed it – the taste.
Unlike single-origin coffee, blend coffee tends to be more full-bodied in flavor because various beans are used to create a balanced blend profile. If you’re not sure which you prefer, try testing out different types to take your taste buds on a joy ride and find your perfect taste match.
What to Look for When Choosing Coffee Beans
The world is filled with an endless range of coffee varieties so to understand your personal flavor profile and preferences you need to do a bit of experimentation. However, trying every bean available to you would be a life-long journey. Luckily, we’ve got the secret to speeding up the process.
Learning to decipher the label is an easy way to select the type of coffee beans you want to brew. Factors like origin, varietal/cultivar, roast level, and tasting notes are the key to unlocking the taste profile before you give it a try! You can learn all about the different terms and what they mean here.
Lastly, some coffee beans are known for being high in brightness or complexity while others are a bit milder. It also helps to understand the various flavors advertised on each package, such as chocolate, citrus, and more – so pay attention to what it says on your bag of beans.
How to Discover Your Flavor Profile
If you’re new to the world of coffee, discovering your flavor profile is the first step in brewing the perfect cup of coffee at home. Your preferred flavor profile helps you understand the different types of coffee that are suitable for your tastes.
One of the best ways to decide whether or not a certain type of coffee is right for you is by using your sense of smell. The coffee’s aroma can be a great indicator of its flavor profile.
If you’re still not sure, the best thing you can do is taste the coffee. Just like wine, a coffee tasting is a must if you want to curate a collection of coffee beans that make your mornings more delicious.
Here at Fellow, we’ve made discovering your flavor profile easier than ever. We’ve separated our coffee into three sections:
These categories give you a head start when picking out new types of coffee. With a bit of trial and error, you’ll find your personal flavor profile in no time.
Should You Choose Different Types of Beans for Different Coffee Brewing Methods?Depending on the type of brewing method you’re using, you may prefer to stick with a certain type of bean. Here are some recommended grind settings to guarantee a great cup of coffee.
- Coarse: Coarse beans work well in a cold brew or a French Press.
- Medium-coarse: Medium-coarse coffee is great with a machine drip/auto drip method or some pour-overs.
- Medium: Medium coffee pairs well with pour-over coffee or some smaller-dose machine drip coffee.
- Fine: Fine coffee is recommended in standard espresso makers.
- Extra-fine: Extra-fine coffee grounds work well for styles such as Turkish coffee.
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