Thinking about brewing your own coffee at home? While this can be a great way to save money and control exactly what’s going into your cup, it’s important to buy the right coffee beans. The best cup always begins with the bean, after all.
The good news is that are so many different types of coffee beans out there to choose from so you’re sure to find something that works for you. But with so many different options, you might not even know where to begin.
So, what coffee beans are the best? The good news is that there is no right or wrong answer. It ultimately comes down to personal preference. JialeCoffee.com takes a closer look at some of the factors to consider when buying coffee beans.
Whole Bean or Ground?
One of the first things you’ll have to decide is if you want whole coffee beans or ground coffee beans. Most coffee connoisseurs would agree that whole beans are the way to go. Whole beans offer the best flavor, and they also maintain their fragrance better. Both of these things are lost with ground coffee beans.
The downside to whole coffee beans is that you will need to grind them every morning. The grinder matters, too. A good grinder, such as a burr or mill grinder, is required to get an even grind, which will allow you to get the most flavor out of your coffee beans.
Don’t have time to grind coffee beans every morning before work? That’s okay! Ground coffee beans are a good alternative. To get the most flavor potential, ground beans should be used in a timely manner. Consider only buying a week’s worth at a time. It’s also important to properly store ground coffee beans to maintain freshness.
Single Origin vs. Blended
Another factor to consider when buying coffee beans is whether you want single origin or blended coffee beans. Again, there’s no right or wrong answer, but the majority of people drink blended coffee. Let’s take a look at the differences.
Single origin coffee beans are harvested and processed in one location, whereas blended coffee beans come from multiple origins.
Blends generally contain coffee beans from two to four locations. These blends come together to create a smoother, lighter, and more fragrant and flavorful coffee. This is where we get coffee with different flavor notes, including mocha, hazelnut, raspberry, French vanilla, and more.
Single origin coffee beans are harvested in smaller batches. What this means is that single origin coffee is a unique experience, as no two batches are the same. Seasonal harvests are also common. Flavor and aroma-wise, single origin coffees tend to be stronger and more pronounced than coffee blends. Single origin coffee is often favored by people who prefer black coffee.
Arabica vs. Robusta
Arabica and Robusta are the two main types of commercially grown coffee beans. Which type is better? This, once again, depends on personal preference.
Primarily grown and harvested in Latin America, Arabica coffee beans tend to be milder in flavor. These beans produce sweet-tasting coffee with notes of fruit, berries, and sugar. Arabica is also more acidic – in a good way. The downside? Since Arabica must grow at higher altitudes, it tends to be more expensive.
Robusta coffee beans, which are mostly grown and harvested in Africa and Indonesia, are known for their strong flavor. While they are generally considered to be lower quality than Arabica beans, Robusta is commonly used in espresso thanks to its deep flavor. Robusta coffee is also higher in caffeine, too. It contains nearly double the amount of caffeine as Arabica coffee does. Since it can be grown at lower altitudes and in a wider array of growing conditions, Robusta also tends to be more affordable.
Choosing Coffee Beans by Roast
When choosing coffee beans, it’s important to take roast into consideration. Here are the most popular roasts you should know about:
- Light roast coffee beans are known for their smooth flavor, which tends to have notes of cinnamon. As the name suggests, these beans are lighter in color and flavor. These coffee beans are also smaller in size and have a higher concentration of caffeine.
- Medium roast coffee beans are brown. In terms of flavor, they’re known for their well-balanced richness and moderate level of acidity. These coffee beans tend to have a nutty flavor profile with notes of caramel. Medium roast coffees are most commonly served at restaurants, since they tend to appeal to most people.
- Dark roast coffee beans are known for their bold, heavy flavor, and they often have notes of chocolate and spice. As their name implies, they’re dark brown in color, and they expand in size when they’re roasted. Dark roast beans are also oily; these oils are released during the roasting process. As long as they’re probably roasted, dark roast coffee beans won’t be burnt or bitter.
- French roast coffee beans are known for their bold, smoky, and rich flavor profiles, as well as their smooth, velvety finish. Even though they’re known for their strong taste, it might surprise you to learn that French roast coffee beans tend to be lower in caffeine.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to which roast you should choose. There are also combinations out there to choose from, such as medium-dark roasts. Breakfast blend coffees also offer a mixture of coffee bean roasts to create a well-balanced, delightful coffee to help you begin your day.
Unroasted Coffee Beans
Unroasted coffee beans, otherwise known as “green coffee beans,” are a popular option. Many people enjoy the process of roasting their own coffee beans. The process is worth it for those who want to enjoy the most flavorful coffee, since coffee tastes the best for the first week after roasting. It only takes about 10 to 16 minutes for smaller batches, and there are lots of DIY coffee roasting guides online. That being said, the process might not be for everyone.
Organic Coffee Beans
If you consider buying organic coffee beans, it’s important to make sure that they’re certified organic. This is the best way to ensure that your coffee beans meet the standards set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA certified organic coffee beans prevent you from being exposed to harmful pesticides, making it an ideal option for your health. The downside? These certifications aren’t cheap, so certified organic coffee beans tend to be very expensive.
White Coffee Beans
White coffee beans are the newest trend in coffee – and for good reason. With a nutty, creamy flavor that’s different from that of typical coffee roasts, white coffee is two times stronger than regular coffee. There is one downside: Most people don’t own grinders that are capable of grinding it, so you’ll want to buy ground white coffee beans.
Where to Buy Coffee Beans
Now that you might have some idea of what type of coffee beans you want to try out first, it’s time to buy! But where do you buy? There are a number of places where you can buy coffee beans. Some ideas include:
- Roasters in your local area
- Coffee shops and cafes in your local area (yes, this includes Starbucks)
- Online roasters
- Grocery stores
- Health food stores
Regardless of where you buy your coffee beans from, it’s important to make sure that you’re purchasing them from a high-quality roaster. Be sure to read reviews ahead of time. If you’re purchasing from a local roaster or coffee shop, you might be able to taste test a cup of coffee before purchasing.
Now that you know what goes into choosing coffee beans, you’re ready to select your own. Many coffee drinkers will end up trying several different types of beans before they end up finding the ones they love most – and even then, you might continue to try out new and different flavors. You might also consider switching from ground coffee beans to whole coffee beans to find out what suits you and your lifestyle most.
With so many different types of coffee beans out there to choose from, the good news is that you’ll never grow bored with your cup o’ Joe. Enjoy!