The first step for making better coffee at home is simply the most obvious. What starts well, ends well, and what is the best way to start brewing a flawless cup of coffee?
It all starts with the coffee beans.
In this handy guide, you will find the basics to get you started on choosing the type and brand of coffee beans for you; learning how to store them correctly, and grinding them to the appropriate size. Call us your coffee gurus.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF COFFEE BEANS?
As you might know, there are four main types of coffee beans, of which Robusta and Arabica are the most widely consumed. Once you're an expert in coffee beans and you've tried everything the market has to offer, you can experiment with different coffee beans blends, but to keep things simple for now, we suggest choosing Arabica. Why?
- A sweeter and softer taste than Robusta
- Less caffeine percentage than Robusta, and therefore a much less bitter flavor
- A long-lasting aroma when drinking, thanks to their high amount of lipids
- It is considered the finest bean between all types, although some coffee brands offer a mix of Arabica and Robusta for a different experience
HOW SHOULD YOU CHOOSE A COFFEE BEAN BRAND?
The beans that are roasted, ground, and brewed are the seeds of the coffee plant's fruit, known as a coffee cherry. Most of them have a lovely, bright red color when ripe, but they can also be orange, yellow, or even pink, depending on the variety. It's absolutely beautiful.
Why is this something you should know? Because coffee, just like any other agricultural product, is at its best when fresh. Just after it's roasted, the natural oils of the coffee are rich and full of aroma, its bitterness is mellowed out, and the natural sugars are still present. Coffee beans will stay fresh for about two to three weeks, and after that, they will start to decay.
So, how do you make sure that the coffee beans in a bag are fresh? By looking for a "roasted on" stamp on the bag. This is how you tell how fresh the beans are before you buy the bag, and tells you that the roaster is committed to quality and honesty towards the consumer.
If the bag you are looking to buy has a "best by" or "best before" stamp, try a different coffee bean provider: you won't be able to tell if the coffee beans are freshly roasted or not.
COFFEE ROAST LEVELS: WHICH ONE SHOULD I CHOOSE?
One of the many perks of choosing your own coffee beans is that you get to pick the level of roast. There are light, medium, and dark types, offering possibility to explore and enhance your experience.
Most pre-ground and store-bought coffee is darkly roasted to give low-quality beans a homogeneous flavor, but when it comes to specialty coffee, it's all about letting the natural flavor of the beans shine.
- Floral, fruity flavors
- Light body
- Low bitterness
- Increased acidity
- Harder to grind
- Honey or caramel hints
- Medium body
- Rich aroma and flavor
- Smooth acidity and bitterness
- Uniform flavor
- Earthy, woody flavors
- Hints of chocolate sweetness
- Heavy body
- Deep aroma
- Increased bitterness
- Oily surface
We suggest sticking to a medium roast most of the time. If you trust your coffee bean provider to suggest the preferred roast level for a specific bean variety, you can always try a light or dark roast later on.
HOW TO STORE YOUR COFFEE BEANS
Buying a bag of coffee beans is relatively simple: specialty coffee shops sell directly to the public, some cafés have coffee bean bags on display as well, and of course, you can find any coffee bean variety you could think of online. So, this is not a problem. But what should you do with your coffee beans once they get home and after you open the bag?
You need an airtight, stainless steel coffee container. This will keep your coffee beans fresh for as long as possible, and it comes with an engraved date tracker to note down the date of roasting.
GRIND SIZES FOR EACH BREWING METHOD
Finally, here's a reference guide on how big you should grind your coffee beans before brewing. Broadly speaking, there are three grind sizes: coarse, medium, and fine, and each brewing method and coffee drink calls specifically for one of the three.
To grind your coffee beans, you will need a burr coffee grinder. Why is it preferred to a blade grinder? It provides a consistent, accurate grind that will ensure the highest quality in your coffee drink.
- Coarse grind: best for immersion brewing methods, such as pour-over, french press, and cold brew coffee making. The size resembles coarse salt grains that you can distinguish in plain sight.
- Medium grind: this is the most common size, the one you'll find in grocery store-bought coffee. This is the size you want for auto-drip and stovetop coffee makers. The size is similar to fine beach sand.
- Fine grind: this is the size required for espresso and it should have a size resembling fine, granulated sugar.
Looking for more tips on how to step up your coffee game? We got you covered. Here are ten barista tips to make better coffee at home that you can check right now to start making the best coffee you'll get your hands on.