We’ve Bean There: A helpful guide to picking the best coffee beans
There are some things out there that need time and effort to be consistently flawless, perhaps just as in any craft or field of expertise. These seem to be difficult as it involves a lot of pondering and weighing stuff out!
At times, even just trying to order an item from a menu takes some time for reasons such as craving for two distinct flavors at a time or simply because you’re not yet familiar at all with the food choices.
It’s not impossible for that to happen even with the things you enjoy – even with coffee. Don’t feel terrible, though. We can learn and work on it. We’ve put together this guide to help you in your pursuit of great coffee.
Since we’ve bean there (pun intended), we know how you feel! Let us introduce you to the coffee bean variations!
Species of Coffee Beans
“Wait! Isn’t there just one type of coffee bean? Like, coffee beans are supposed to be ground into fine granules or something?”
It’s true that coffee beans go into grinders to get your preferred graininess (more on that later!). But there are actually 4 known species of coffee beans! Here is some helpful overview about them:
The first, and probably most popular type, is the Arabica type. These elongated beans have lesser caffeine content, which one can assume is why it is very widely used. These delicate beans grow highly elevated, around 3000-5000 ft high!
You may have heard of Robusta beans, too. These are rounded beans and more disease resistant. Compared to Arabica which grow on high altitudes, they grow on lower elevation, around 2000-2500 ft. In terms of caffeine, Robusta beans have higher caffeine content than Arabica.
Liberica beans are popular in Southeast Asia, especially in the Philippines. You guessed it right, Liberica beans are the famous “kapeng barako”. These beans are hot climate tolerant.
With the characteristics like that of wine when aged, Excelsa beans is the fourth known species of beans. Like Liberica, Excelsa is widely known in the Philippines too.
Reading about roasting
The beans we normally see in pictures or coffee shops are the dark brown ones. The green coffee beans have undergone roasting. We are able to grind beans and brew coffee, smell the aroma we love, and taste its perfect flavor because of this process.
There are three popular types of roasts: Light, Medium, and Dark. If you ask which one is the recommended roast, the answer is this: your preference is the best coffee roast.
To better understand the following descriptions for coffee, make sure to remember that coffee shouldn’t be sour. It shouldn’t taste like vinegar or lemon! So acidity is not really about the sourness. Instead, acidity pertains to the brightness or sharpness of coffee taste.
Light roasts are, as the term suggests, light brown. This roast has a high acidity and is not bitter. It has the highest caffeine content due to the length of time exposed to heat.
Medium roasts are a little bit browner than light roasts, which also means it has less caffeine. (Remember, the lighter it is the more reason you’re gonna believe it has more caffeine content). If you’d like a balanced taste, or like meeting halfway, medium roast is the way to go.
Dark roast has a richer taste than light and medium roasts. If you’d like your coffee to be on the smoky and a bit on the bitter side, choose dark roast.
The “ground rule”
The basic principle in coffee beans is the more recently it was roasted, the better. Freshly roasted beans will always bring out the coffee’s greatest taste.
In examining coffee grounds, it’s also best to always remember that even the slightest differences in grind size can significantly change the taste.
When looking for ground coffee, you’ll most likely see the following on the shelf: whole beans, coarse grind, medium grind, fine grind, and very fine grind. Your brewing method determines the most suitable fineness or coarseness of coffee grounds you will be using. If it is too fine, it is likely to be bitter and over-extracted. And if you are using ground coffee that is too coarse, it can be weak as it is under-extracted.
Articulation in flavor profiles
Accurately describing flavor profiles in your coffee can be very advantageous. Not only are you able to describe the tastes in your cup to other people, but also for your own coffee-making habit.
If you are able to identify or at least be well-familiar with specific tastes (if it is sour, sweet, etc) or what its aroma is like (brewed coffee’s smell), then it will undoubtedly up your coffee experience. Surely, we would love to have a deeper appreciation of the things we enjoy.
Being able to identify distinct flavors of each coffee recipe can help you, and/or others you share the drinks you brew with, with finding out personal preferences for taste. More importantly, you are able to share how coffee recipes are meant to be created.
Flavor profiles and preferences
There are a bunch of adjectives to describe flavor profiles of coffee. And for this overview, distinguishing flavor profiles of coffee beans mentioned above helps in deciding which ones to pick.
Arabica beans are on the sweeter side. It has a more berry, fruity and sugary tone. When you are adding some more flavors to your coffee cup, arabica beans can go well with that due to its softer taste.
Robusta beans, which have a nut-like aroma, have a stronger taste. If your preference is more on the bitter side of coffee, then choosing robusta beans is the key.
Liberica beans’ smoky aroma leans towards having a woody and earthy tone. Its taste is perfect for those who have acclimated their palate towards the more bitter side.
Pick the right one for you
Determining which type of beans to use immensely affects the flavour profiles you wish to concoct. The authenticity of the drink lies greatly on the accuracy of method, techniques, and choice of ingredients.
And remember, it starts with picking the right coffee bean.
We have bean able to distinguish various coffee beans. If you get to observe and experiment on these in the future, share to us the stories of your sensory experience! Tag us on your Facebook and Instagram posts, and let’s share our coffees virtually!