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What to Look for When Buying Coffee Beans: Your Guide

Whether you’re a seasoned coffee aficionado or a total coffee beginner looking to elevate your morning routine, selecting the right coffee beans can make all the difference.

But one thing’s for sure, knowing which coffee beans to buy can be a little overwhelming, with an endless variety of beans from all over the world, all with different flavour profiles and characteristics. 

Not to worry, this is where we can help! In this guide, we’ll walk you through the essential factors to consider when buying coffee beans, from understanding processing methods and roast levels to the importance of ethical sourcing

But first, what are coffee beans? And what are the different types?

What Exactly Are Coffee Beans?

To put it simply, coffee beans are the seeds of the coffee plant, which belong to the genus Coffea. These beans are found inside the coffee cherries, which are the fruit of the coffee plant. When processed and roasted, they become the familiar coffee beans that we use to brew coffee.

Coffee beans come from two main types of coffee plant that dominate the global coffee market – Coffea arabica (Arabica) and Coffea canephore (Robusta).

Arabica beans are known for their smooth, complex flavours with higher acidity and a wide range of tasting notes, including fruity, floral, nutty, and chocolaty. Robusta beans on the other hand have a stronger, more bitter flavour with higher caffeine content, and typically have more earthy, woody, or nutty notes.

The four main coffee types are Arabica, Robusta, Excelsa, and Liberica.

Here are 6 things you should be looking for when buying coffee beans:

1. Origin

First things first – origin. Are you into single-origin or blends?

Single-origin coffee comes from coffee cherries harvested from one specific region or country, for example Columbian coffee, Kenyan coffee and Guatemalan Coffee. This type of coffee is valued for its unique and distinct flavours, which reflect the specific characteristics of its place of origin.

Blends on the other hand, combine beans from a variety of different regions, creating a mix of flavours. Blending coffee is an art that involves combining various beans to create a balanced and harmonious flavour profile that simply cannot be achieved with single-origin beans alone.

You can shop our quality range of single-origin or blended coffee here. 

2. Freshness

Secondly, how fresh are the beans?

Freshness is crucial when choosing coffee beans because it significantly impacts the quality, flavour, and aroma of the coffee you brew.

Coffee beans reach their peak flavour potential shortly after roasting, typically within a few days to a couple of weeks. Freshly roasted beans preserve the delicate and complex flavours inherent to the coffee.

Look for beans which, on the packaging, shows a recent roast date. Generally speaking, freshly roasted beans will offer better flavour and aroma.

It’s best to opt for beans in airtight, sealed packaging to maintain freshness and quality.

3. Roast Level

Another important factor to consider is the roast level – light, medium or dark. Think about your taste preferences and brewing method when selecting a roast level.

  • Light roast – This coffee is light brown with no oil on the bean’s surface, and has a sharp acidity, gentle body and vibrant flavour profile.
  • Medium roastMedium roasts are popular because of their well-rounded flavour profile and moderate mouthfeel. Medium roasts are sweet, smooth, mellow and chocolaty; perfect for espresso or pour-over coffee.
  • Dark roastDark roasts contain less caffeine and have a deep, smoky flavour. These beans are ideal for espresso and milk-based beverages like cappuccinos and lattes.

4. Ethical Practices

For many of us, ethical and sustainable practices are crucial considerations when deciding which coffee beans to buy. Not only do these practices impact the quality of coffee, but they also have significant social, environmental and economic implications to the people and area they’re sourced from.

Fair trade certifications typically require that workers have safe working conditions and fair wages, contributing to better livelihoods for those in the coffee industry.

Also, coffee that’s grown with sustainable practices helps protect the environment. These practices may include using organic farming methods, minimising the use of harmful chemicals, and preserving biodiversity.

At Coffi Dre, we are proud to say that all our coffee beans are ethically sourced and meticulously nurtured by quality-conscious farmers. 

5. Roster Reviews & Reputation

As with anything you purchase, looking at the reviews and general reputation of the product and company in question is really important. 

As well as the quality of coffee, reviews can shed light on the overall customer experience of a brand, including factors like shipping speed, packaging quality, and customer service.

So, when looking around for coffee brands, be sure to check reviews on their website, Google My Business, Trustpilot and social media platforms. You can check out our 62 reviews on Trust Pilot here.

It’s also a good idea to ask for recommendations from friends or online coffee communities.

6. Processing Method

The final factor that will influence which coffee beans you buy is the processing method. Not many people know this, but the processing method after harvest really affects the coffee’s taste.

Natural processed coffees are often sweeter and fruitier, with a more complex flavour. These dry-processed coffees also have lower acidity and undertones of chocolate, cherries and dried fruit.

Washed coffees however tend to have a cleaner, brighter and fruitier flavour profile, and will shine due to their refined acidity. 

On the other hand, semi-washed or wet-hulled beans are earthy and rich, with a unique sweetness and acidity that other coffees simply can’t match. 

 

There we have it! We hope this comprehensive coffee bean buying guide will empower you to select the perfect coffee beans, enhancing your coffee experience with every brew.

For more coffee insights and tips from our experts, check out our coffee blog page. And if you have any questions about our products or coffee trailer events, please don’t hesitate to get in touch

Did you know that we also offer coffee in wholesale quantities for Cafe’s, Hotel’s, Deli’s, Camping/Glamping Site’s, catering trailers and any other business? Learn more about our wholesale services here.

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