Coffee Basics – A quick guide.
At Great Priced Coffee we believe in a no nonsense approach, with straightforward taste and strength guides to help you choose the coffee that’s right for you. Remember if you like it then it’s a good coffee. Trust your palate and trust us – we only source and roast high quality ethically sourced beans.
Coffee is only grown in certain areas of the world generally referred to as the coffee belt. This area has the right weather and terrain for the coffee plants to flourish.
There are 2 main types of coffee bean. Arabica & Robusta
As the name suggests this is a more robust and stronger tasting bean. It grows lower down, can be harvested by machine and in order to ward off pests it has a higher caffeine content than the plants which grow on the higher ground.
Robusta is generally used in blends as it can add a richness and body to the coffee and with the extra caffeine can add a little kick. On it’s own it can be pretty harsh.
Remember Robusta although generally cheaper than Arabica does not mean it is bad. It can bring depth, flavour and rich crema, if roasted and blended well. At great priced coffee we only use washed and polished Vietnamese Robusta in some of our blends – and they happen to be our most popular. Remember trust your palate!
Arabica is the other main variety, this is grown higher up and as there are less pests it has a lower caffeine content. This variety needs to be hand harvested which adds to the costs but allows only the best beans to picked at the correct time. Arabica will generally have a more gentle flavour than Robusta but each origin and roast will have its own distinct flavour.
How can I tell what origin of bean I prefer?
Tasting coffee is a very personal thing and much like a sommelier, when at the highest level it is a skill that takes years to master. The best coffee tasters in the world can identify countries of origin, regions and roasts form a single sip! However there are some general indicators that can help you chose which of coffees will be best for you.
African countries generally have a more fruity flavour to them, especially if roasted quite light. Yep fruity coffee sounds strange but it’s actually true. Kenyan Coffee is often likened to blackberry (think Ribena coffee) and Ethiopian can be very citrusy. So in basic terms for African think Fruity!
These coffees are generally known for their balance - smooth and sweet with some acidity. They are often used in blends to give balance and depth of flavour. Honduras and Guatemala are the largest producers in this region.
South American coffee can generally be thought of as more chocolatey and even nutty. Brazil is the largest producer of coffee in the world and this chocolatey nutty taste is what most people traditionally wanted from there coffee. In recent years there has been a trend toward the more fruity ones.
Roast profile basically means how long and how hot we roast (cook) the beans. The roasting process is actually quite short typically anything from 10-5 minutes dependant on the blend, type of roaster and what you want to get from the finished product.
Dark roast can mask some of the natural and individual flavour of the beans. Think of getting the best cut of steak and then cooking it very well done. You will lose a lot of the flavour and the dominant taste will be from the cooking the crispy edges the burn bits etc. But if that’s how you like it then all good! It’s the same for coffee very dark roasts will give a roasty toasty flavour. This is a traditional Italian style and is still very popular. It’s worth pointing out that the darker the roast the less caffeine so although it will taste ‘strong’ it will actually have less caffeine as this dissolves during the roasting process. This type of roast works best for espresso especially if adding milk.
Medium as you might guess is slightly lighter than a dark roast, so it may have been roasted at a lower temperature or for less time or both. This roast will retain more of the individual flavours from the beans whilst still giving some of the roasty flavours that many people love. This coffee is a great all rounder but probably works best with Espresso based drinks especially when adding milk and also in cafetieres.
Light roasted coffees have become increasingly popular in recent years. This is most commonly used in single origin or single estate coffees you want all of the natural flavours of the beans to be retained and they generally have very little of that roasty flavour. These coffees can sometimes be quite acidic and bright in flavour. Light roast works best for drip filters and can also work well in a cafetiere.