How to Choose the Right Coffee Beans

When I started drinking coffee, it would not have mattered if it was instant or brewed, where the beans were from, how it was roasted, or flavoured, as long as it kept me awake and helped me pass my exams.

However as time passed I became aware of the different beans, roasts and flavours available. So when your palate reaches this stage of awareness and you no longer say coffee is all the same as long as it keeps me awake, how do you choose the right coffee bean?

First, choose which species you prefer, 75% of the worlds coffee trade is of Coffee Arabica due to its generally preferred flavour and deep aroma and it does go well with cream, sugar and other additives. But for the true coffee connoisseur it does not hurt to sample any of the other available species, such as benghalensis, canephor, congensis and mogeneti to name a few.

Now assuming you do not roast your own beans (as some of us do!) Its important to choose the best roast. This is determined by the degree of darkness and there are four main types; Light (Cinnamon Roast, Half City, New England), Medium (Full City, American, Regular, Breakfast Brown), Dark (High, Viennese, Italian Expresso, Continental) and Darkest (Italian, French, Spanish). Most people prefer medium roast due to its balanced flavour and sweetness, but do try the others as individual tastes often vary considerably.

As for the origin of the beans, the differences in flavours are small but significant. Beans from Central America and Hawaii have a snappy and vibrant flavour, Whereas beans from Yemen and East Africa are more bitter and Indonesian grown beans have a more complex flavour.

In addition to the natural flavours within the different coffee beans, different flavours can be added by the manufacturer, these are many and varied, but to begin with I would suggest trying beans without added flavourings for two reasons. Firstly particularly with artificial flavourings this might overpower the natural taste of the bean and prevent an unbiased choice of coffee bean and secondly the more the beans are flavoured the unheathier they become!

As for where to purchase your coffee beans, while your local supermarket will most likely stock some of the most popular varieties, probably the best place to find a large range of interesting and desirable flavours is the internet. You will also receive the beans fresh and full of flavour unlike those at the local store which may have been in storage for some time.

Another good option which I would recommend is to join a coffee of the month club. For a low price you get to sample one or more coffee bean flavours each month and also can discuss different flavours with other members.

Finding a delicious coffee bean is not easy but once you have you can enjoy the fruits of your labour as often as you like!