We’ve all been there at some point – staring at a selection of coffee beans, reading about its origin and flavour profiles, but still feeling disappointed upon taking the first sip of that brew. Who would have known that the process of choosing the right beans for ourselves is similar, if not, more mind-boggling than buying a dream car?
There are a few key factors to take into consideration when you are next making that important choice of choosing the right beans. After all, it is that perfect cup that gets our day off to a right start.
1. Knowing your beans
There are two main coffee beans sold commercially in the market today, Robusta and Arabica. On one hand, Robusta has a full-bodied and bitter taste. On the other, Arabica gravitates toward being slightly acidic with a fruity and delicate taste.
These beans have varying growing conditions and so it’s no surprise that coffee harvested in one country will taste differently from the other. The altitude, rainfall, climate, and soil conditions each play a prominent role in the flavours and aroma of your resulting brew.
2. Selecting the coffee roast
When one takes in a whiff of a raw, green coffee bean that is freshly harvested, its aroma resembles a green pepper rather than the familiar aroma of your favourite cafe. It is the roasting process that gives coffee its quintessential flavour explosion.
There’s a large difference between light and dark roasts. If you prefer coffee with a smoother taste, go for dry and lighter-coloured coffee beans. These beans have been roasted for a shorter period, giving it a less bitter flavour profile. Likewise, if you like a bolder and more bitter brew, darker roasts will make the cut.
3. Determine the amount of caffeine you want in your brew
Contrary to popular belief, the darkness of coffee beans does not correlate to higher caffeine percentage. When the same bean is roasted for longer, its size and weight fluctuate, reducing caffeine levels simultaneously.
In addition, due to harsher climates, Robusta plants are naturally more resistant to heat. Resultantly, its beans normally contain double the caffeine content as Arabica. If you are looking for a stronger brew, lightly-roasted Robusta beans are an ideal choice.
4. Single Origin vs Blended
Just as its name suggests, single origin coffee beans are sourced from a single location, often a region or country. This could go as far as the specific climate, micro-conditions, and coffee farm that the bean was grown in.
As most single origin coffee beans are seasonal and grown in smaller batches, they are often roasted lightly to allow its true and unique flavour to shine. If black coffee is your go-to drink, the defined and consistent taste of these beans will most likely suit your taste buds.
Nevertheless, the flavourful notes of blended coffee still strike a chord with many coffee drinkers. A roaster will normally mix beans from two to four different locations, giving the blend a harmonious combination of aroma, smoothness, and taste.
The resulting profile can feature notes of chocolate, citrus, hazelnut, and more. If you enjoy sipping on coffee that brings a multitude of flavours, blended coffee is a must-have.
5. Which coffee maker are you using?
Besides understanding the chemistry of a coffee bean, a specific coffee maker can make one bean more suitable for you than others. Which coffee makers do a better job at extracting flavours and which is more ideal for coarser or finer grinds?
Every gadget requires different methods of brewing which in turn, produces varying flavours. For example, compare between a french press and drip machine – the faster steeping process in the french press often results in a full-bodied and robust coffee whereas, the filter paper in a drip machine causes a slower brewing process that gives a more aromatic brew.
The amount of control you have over every variable of the machine determines how you can perfect the brewing process. Based on the coffee maker you have at home, tailor your choice of the coffee bean to suit the end taste that you are looking for.
6. Don’t stop experimenting
At the end of it all, there’s no right or wrong in deciding which beans are the perfect one for yourself. What’s most important is to experiment with flavours by trying different types of beans.
To help you get started, here are a few coffee subscription services that might just surprise your taste buds with new coffee beans each month.