Are you new to buying coffee beans? Or are you wanting to up your coffee bean game and don’t know where to start? Maybe, it’s your first time making your own brewed coffee, or perhaps, you’ve been buying coffee beans, but you’re never fully satisfied with the kind you get.
The coffee bean buying process is as important as every other process in making your coffee – farming, brewing, techniques, and even timing, among others, are important. You see, making a quality, gourmet coffee (or just any coffee you think as special) is very subtle – one mistake and you can lose all the effort you put into it.
For instance, the wrong farming technique of your coffee beans can actually hurt your coffee’s quality – which is why the buying process is very important. By the time the beans get to your doorstep, or your local cafe where you buy beans you might find them to be lacking flavor.
Although the buying process seems complicated, once you’ve learned what to look for, you will be surprised at how easy it is!
In this article we will be addressing the main things to look for when buying coffee, alongside the best places to buy your coffee. Reading the label, picking the right type of bean, checking the expiration date, and checking the roast type will all help you determine what type of coffee you desire. On the other hand, knowing what country of preference is your favorite alongside the best brands to buy from is also important.
Reading the Label
One of the most important things to consider when buying coffee beans is something that a lot of people already do when buying food at the supermarket or grocery store: reading the label. We read the labels to find nutritional facts, calorie counts, and expiration dates. Just like we check those products, it’s important to do the same with coffee beans.
The label of coffee beans not only tells you information about the quality of the beans you’re buying but it also tells you the roast date.
There might be labels with too much information, while there are definitely labels with too little information. Depending on this, you don’t have to look at every detail on the label. Below are the points on what you should know about the coffee bean that you’re purchasing:
- Picking the Right Type of Bean
- “Use By” Date vs. Roast Date
- Roast Type
These are the only things you need to consider while reading bag of coffee beans label.
Picking the Right Type of Bean
The first thing you need to consider is the type of coffee bean that you want to buy. Coffee bean types can vary, as well as have an impact (positively or negatively) depending on the type of coffee that you want to make. If you are unfamiliar with the two main types of coffee beans, it’s important you get to know them well first.
So far, only two types of coffee beans are dominant in the coffee: Arabica and Robusta. However, if you have no idea about them and how they differ, here’s a simple guideline to follow.
Arabica beans are the most common type of coffee bean used in making coffee. The arabica bean makes up 60% of all global coffee production and consumption. If you are an avid coffee drinker chances are you already drink this type of coffee.
Arabica beans work best if you want to have your coffee hot and if you’re not a fan of creamer – creamers diminish or reduce the quality of Arabica beans. If you prefer iced coffee or any variant of cold coffee, Arabica beans are not a good choice. Cold temperatures diminish the quality of Arabica beans. If you prefer your coffee hot, then Arabica is probably the best for you.
For quality check, the best Arabica beans usually have lower acidity and a fuller body taste.
Robusta beans are second in global production and consumption of coffee, comprising around 20% of it.
If you enjoy your coffee with sugar and cream, then Robusta coffee beans would best fit you. Also, Robusta beans work great for cold coffees, while Arabica beans do not.
For quality check, high-quality Robusta beans often have a smooth texture and low acidity. Its flavor should have a hint of chocolate, but overall flavors vary from bag to bag.
“Use By” Date vs. Roast Date
We all know what a “use by” date means, but what about roast dates? Do not confuse a roast date with the listed “use by” date. Use by date is what it is – you use the product before the set date to make sure you consume it fresh and it’s edible. Otherwise, though probably still edible, once you consume the product past its use-by date, it will lose its freshness.
On the other hand, the roast date tells you how long the beans were sitting since it was roasted.
When you are purchasing your coffee beans, be sure that its roast date ranges from 8-20 days since it was roasted. Those are the optimal ranges for your beans. At this time period, the freshness and quality of coffee beans can still be kept intact, but after that, the beans will start to lose flavor.
If you purchased the beans below 8 days since its roast date, it’s best if you wait at least until 4 days before you brew it (assuming that you bought the beans freshly roasted). While brewing too late can cause your beans to lose flavor, brewing too early can too. Too fresh of coffee beans are also not necessarily good, so wait the necessary days to use them!
Lastly, it’s important to consider the type of roast that your coffee beans went through. Here are the following roast types:
- Extra dark
Lighter roasts often have high acidity and caffeine, whereas lower roasts have low acidity and caffeine, but can potentially have a burnt and bitter flavor. The type of roast solely depends on the type of coffee you want to make, and your personal preference.
Best Roasters That Ship Internationally
Finding a good roaster is like finding the perfect match. Roasters are very important when buying coffee beans. Instead of finding out which local, smaller roasters are the best, we will simply list some of the best roasters in the coffee market – and those that ship to most, if not all, countries.
Here are some of the best roasters which you can buy your coffee from – most shipping internationally:
- Capitol City Coffee (what’s a blog post without a personal plug)
- Intelligentsia Coffee
- Counter Culture
- Blue Bottle Coffee
- Coffee CSA (Pachamama Coffee)
5 Best Places of Origin to Buy Coffee From
If you have any experience buying coffee, whether that be online, in a grocery store, or directly from a roaster, then you’ve probably noticed that coffee bags seem to be labeled by country (or place) of origin. For instance, bags might be labeled as Jamaican coffee, African coffee, etc.
Paying attention to origin is important because it can also help determine quality, too. Here are 5 of the best places, by origin, to buy your coffee from.
If you want your coffee to be rich in flavor and of moderate floral aromatics, or if you’re simply a fan of Kona coffee, then you should buy your coffee that was farmed from Kona, Hawaii!
Check out our Kona coffee here.
Jamaica (Blue Mountain)
Jamaican coffee, especially those that are grown in the Blue Mountain region, are simply one of the best and unique coffees to ever try! It has its own special flavor, acidity, and body that you cannot find in any other coffee beans.
Beware with scammers though, as Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans are unique. Knowing its uniqueness, fraudsters attempt to sell counterfeit Jamaican Blue Mountain hoping to make money. Be sure that you’re dealing with trusted sellers before you buy a bag.
Another tip: don’t go for blended Blue Mountain coffee beans unless it’s what you really want. If you’re looking to try pure Blue Mountain coffee, go for the authentic, 100% pure package.
Check out our Blue Jamaican coffee here and here.
Kenyan coffees are unique on their own. Due to the region and climate where it was grown, Kenyan coffees often have a savory-sweet flavor, like those of tomato or black currant.
Indonesia (Dark Roast)
If you’re a fan of Java or Sumatran coffee, then you have Indonesia to thank for. Coffee beans grown in Indonesia tend to have a deeper body and lower acidity. Indonesian coffees are also best if you want your coffee to be dark roasted.
Ethiopian coffee is known for its biodiversity. Because of this diversity, Ethiopian coffee varies in terms of flavor, usually ranging from tea-like coffees to wine-like coffees.
When you are browsing Ethiopian beans, make sure to read the label and flavor description provided.
Check out our Ethiopian coffee here.
Do you still have questions about what beans are for you? Send us a message and we’ll help you out.