What Every Serious Coffee Enthusiasts needs to know about Coffee Bean
We love coffee and the best part of coffee is the beans. But what are the beans? Coffee beans are seed of the coffee plant. Technically these seeds are located in the pit but they acquired the name bean because of their close resemblance. These seeds come from a fruit that is red or purple in color and is called a coffee cherry or berry. These cherries have 2 beans normally but there are some that have only one and it is rare, called the peaberry. It is not proven but it is said that the peaberry has more flavor than the regular beans.
There are two generally used coffee plants, Arabica and Robusta. Arabica was originally found in Ethiopia and can boast 80% of the world’s coffee manufacture. Robusta can claim the other 20%. So now that we can identify the beans and where they come from lets dive into how they are processed so that the mystery is taken out of coffee beans. Although the plant is the same where the plant is grown has an effect on the beans taste. The Latin American beans are known to taste sweet, Africa for its acidity, and Indonesia for its earthiness. Some packaging contains specifics about the origin of the beans.
Coffee beans can be kept in a dry environment at room temperature for 12 to 18 months without losing quality. When heat is applied to the bean the roasting of the bean begins. Depending upon the temperature the effect will be different. For example you can choose to apply 385 degrees to 401 degrees for a light roast, 410 to 426 degrees for a medium roast, or 437-473 degrees for a dark roast. Dry roasting is a method that involves applying heat to the bean without any type of fluid. Unroasted beans, green beans, can be purchased and roasted at home. This has fallen out of fashion but was once very popular. The costs of the beans is normally less using this method and allows the brewer freedom of choice.
Each temperature creates a different flavor. If the bean is processed at 385 degrees you will produce a cinnamon roast. This roast is known for its grassy flavors and underdeveloped sweetness. The cinnamon roast is considered a light roast. If roasted at 401 degrees then it is light roast not only categorically but also in name. These beans are a light brown and used by baristas for specialty brews.
American and city roast are medium roasts that can be identified by their medium brown appearance. They have a dry medium brown exterior that lacks shininess or glare if they were dry roasted. An example is Folgers, they have a gauge on every container to let you know how dark the roast was prior to grinding.
Of course most of us are used to the dark roast varieties. Full City, Vienna, French, and Italian roasts are all considered dark roasts. The beans are dark brown to nearly black and have a glossy sheen. These roasts are extremely popular and common. Complementary coffees are consistently dark roasts. There is a very good chance that your first cup of coffee was a dark roast.
Coffee beans just like any other type of produce have a season. When you buy coffee beans see if the packaging has a sticker indicating whether the beans are in season. This isn’t a guarantee that the beans will be fresher but it will give you some indication of when they were harvested. Considering the 12 to 18 month storage life of a coffee bean this may not be that important to you. Many companies use a 9 month standard to determine whether or not a sticker is applied.
Pre-ground coffee loses its flavor very quickly so it is best to grind your own beans. You can use a blade grinder or burr mill grinder. They both have their advantages. Burr grinders are more expensive but they grind more evenly. A blade grinder can be used in short bursts to overcome the unevenness of the grind. By using this quick burst technique you can save some money on the grinder but if you are a daily grind and brew person it is recommended that you purchase a burr grinder. It is extremely important to not over grind the beans. The fine grounds can clog the coffee maker and release bitter flavors.
Storing your coffee beans can be just as important as grinding them. Make sure that you limit light and air flow to the bean. Another important factor is temperature. Earlier we went over the storing of beans at room temperature. Do not store your beans in the refrigerator or freezer. Not all coffee bean bags are made equally so make sure that if you use the bag that it came in the bag is sufficient. You may want to buy a container for your beans. There are many containers available, it is suggested that you check reviews to ensure the product which you plan to buy has favorable ones.
Coffee has become part of our morning ritual and is unlikely to go anywhere. So the next time that you walk up to the coffee bean aisle don’t stand there in confusion or buy what your friend buys start to explore the opportunities that are in front of you. Now that you are equipped with the coffee bean knowledge required to make intelligent buying decisions nobody can stop you.