How to Choose the Right Coffee Beans that Suit your Preference


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There are many choices of coffee beans available out there. The challenge, however, is making the right choice without having so many regrets. Indeed, with so many different products available just anywhere, it’s overwhelming and tempting to just decide on whatever you think is the best. 

Choosing the best coffee beans to brew the perfect cup of coffee is all down to your personal preference. It’s a personal choice that involves experience and a bit of knowledge.

However, there are still so many overwhelming characteristics that might capture your attention. At some point, we’ve all been there, looking for something without knowing where to start.

In this article, I will walk you through these simple guidelines to get started making that important choice of yours. Whether purchasing the best coffee or just picking the right beans for experience, the following tips will guide you to make the right decision according to your selection.

Tip: Trusting your instincts about the taste you like will usually contribute to what you perceive as the best coffee. This will help you make sure you’re picking the right beans that meet your needs. 

Familiarize With the Different Bean’s Variety

All the cups of coffee around the world are not just limited to a single bean variety. Before getting started, it’s better to familiarize first with the cups you drink every day to determine the things you need. 

Some say that quit worrying about these and rather just focus on finding the roaster that will give you what you want. But in my case, having this exciting awareness about the different types of beans will somewhat influence me in choosing the best-desired coffee.

  • There are four different types of coffee beans that are widely produced and cultivated – Arabica, Robusta, Liberica, and Excelsa.
  • The coffee industry depends mainly on Arabica and Robusta for commercial use. It’s because they are by far the best as both of them can sustain the global need for coffee.
  • Both the Liberica and Excelsa species are less common and popular due to being rare and their limited availability. Another reason is that they can’t sustain the need for many consumers.

So, moving on, now that you’re a little bit familiar with the different varieties of coffee beans, you might ask which is better and which bean should you choose? Let’s move on and further explore it and help you choose the right coffee beans that suits your needs.

Choose the Type of Coffee Beans Based on Your Taste Preference

Taste is a personal choice, and choosing the best coffee beans will depend on your taste preference. Ask yourself what flavor profile you’re craving for. It’s up to you to find the certain bean that you’ll likely appreciate. Just remember though that each coffee offers distinct and unique flavors differently.

Arabica – It is well-known in the specialty coffee industry for its higher quality beans. It offers a fruity, sweet coffee flavor. In terms of caffeine content, its bean has slightly less amount of it than Robusta. And as for the acidity, Arabica offers an easy-drinking brew that is light in your tummy.

However, Arabica is a little bit pricey on the market as of being of higher-class beans. But on the bright side, that only means that this kind of coffee is given enough care and attention in all the stages of production.

Robusta – Robusta coffee is not as popular and in-demand as Arabica. It is known in the coffee industry for having a strong and robust flavor. A flavor that is often bitter and rubbery due to the high amount of caffeine. The beans contain nearly twice the caffeine of Arabica beans, which sometimes contributes to these unpleasant tastes. 

So, having that in mind, you already have a rough guide to the taste that you want. Therefore, the choice is yours!

If you’re looking for more delightful flavors and sweeter aromas, then it’s best to pick Arabica beans. Most coffee lovers will indeed recommend this coffee if you’re looking for high cup quality. It will cost you a little extra though, but nevertheless, it’s worth it!

If you prefer a slightly bitter coffee and craving a caffeine kick to jump-start your day, then have to try engaging with Robusta beans. Robusta provides more acidic, stronger, and earthier taste which you might appreciate. While some people look down on this type of coffee, there’s no shame in trying it even every once in a while. 

After all, Robusta coffee will taste better if you blend it with other coffee varieties. This will give you a great combination of flavors.

Explore Other Types of Coffee Varieties

This is not about choosing the best coffee beans. But for me, it’s all about experiencing and exploring the taste of rare and uncommon coffees.

Aside from Arabica and Robusta, there are also some kind coffees out there. Not everyone had tried those, so, it’s a great experience to dredge and see what their taste like.

Liberica for example, even though it is not that popular and very rare in the coffee industry, it still make up approximately 2% of the world’s coffee production. However, you can only find this type of coffee in some specific countries.

But in terms of the flavor, Liberica is not that bad. Its flavor profile is unique and acceptable. Liberica is well-favored for its floral aroma and bold, smoky and strong flavor profile. You can also taste some bit of woodiness and earthiness in it. You can read about Liberica Coffee for more information.

After all, if you’re looking for something exclusive, you should definitely delve into Liberica, Excelsa, Giesha, etc. You may also want to explore the coffees around the world such as Guatemalan coffee, Ethiopian, Kenyan, and so on.

As I have said, the personal choice involves experience and knowledge. So, if you’re getting the best coffee beans possible, you’re not missing yourself out on surely delicious coffees.

Buy Coffee Beans From Local Roasters

Choosing the best coffee beans doesn’t end at identifying their differences. Just because Arabic is the best, you would also buy many bags of Arabica beans in the supermarket.

Well, you should be careful about purchasing coffee at grocery stores. Despite it’s not always the case, sometimes, coffee beans that have been labeled 100% Arabica is not always true. You should look at other aspects that devote to what we’ve known as Arabica. 

Focus how to choose the right coffee beans

Therefore, it’s still best to buy coffee beans directly from a trusted local roaster. If you’re living in a coffee-producing country, you should explore local roasters nearby and start trying their coffee. 

Aside from obtaining a fresh and consistent favored roast profile, you’re also probably getting high-quality beans. What’s more, roasters will give you enough idea of the type of roast you want. In the end, they can assist you in your next purchase and preference.

You can also buy green beans directly from producers or farmers, and just roast them at home.

They always say that “the best coffee comes from people who care about it”, and that’s true! Besides, producing the best quality beans starts from everything that they do.

Some say that processing and roasting affect the overall taste of the coffee. But we should also consider how the beans from the tree are well taken care of and how organized producers and farmers are in their work.

If you can explore the industry, then why not give the effort to know more details about the origin of your coffee. You’ll be more appreciative of your cup of joe if you’ll get close to the producers, witnessing the journey of the beans from farm to your daily cups.

Be Careful Purchasing Coffee Beans Online

Not everyone has the access to a local roaster, therefore, you may have to buy coffee beans online. However, sometimes you might not get the beans you want. In some cases, consumers often get coffee they don’t like because it doesn’t taste fresh and delicious.

Besides, although it doesn’t always happen, you’re most likely not getting the beans that you want and are free of any flaws. 

But since this is the easiest way of having coffee beans to make a decent cup every morning, you will just depend on luck sometimes. Just experiment and try to find an online roaster that will give you fresh coffee beans no matter what. 

It’s all about trial and error to find someone whom you can trust. It’s all about proper research to make sure they’re legitimate. Then build a relationship to ensure that they value you as a customer as well as you trust them as a supplier. 

Having that said, there’s still a lot of ways to find great coffees online:

  • Online Subscription Services – You can receive freshly-roasted coffee beans on a regular basis through online subscription. It’s a direct service where you pay a roaster to provide you with fresh and high-quality coffee.
  • Amazon – Some says avoid buying coffee beans from Amazon or any grocery stores. It’s true that the challenge is freshness and traceability of beans. But most of the time, you can still get the best coffee out there if you know how to research properly.

Don’t be afraid of exploring different sources though, as you might also discover different coffees that you’ve never encountered before.

But after all, when it comes to buying coffee online, don’t just aim for which is the best, rather know its freshness. You can’t always ensure fresh coffee beans when buying online than buying at local roasters. Therefore, find an online producer that offers made to order products to guarantee freshness.

Check the Label for Information

Choose a coffee having details that include information such as the origin, altitude where the beans are grown, and the process for which the beans are prepared. These factors have great contributions to a certain bean’s over-all physical and flavor development.

Focus how to choose the right coffee beans
Credit: thevault.ph

We’ve mentioned that avoid picking a 100% Arabica bean just anywhere. That is because growing conditions also affect a coffee’s flavor. It means that even the beans are so-called “100% Arabica,” the quality still degrades if not grown into an environment that meets the standard growing conditions.

So, if you want to obtain the best coffee beans possible, consider learning how the origin, altitude, and processing method impacts the physical and cup quality of the coffee.

Origin

Is the coffee a single origin or blend? Think of a single origin as a location where a special type of coffee is uniquely found. In particular, from a single known location.

For example, the cup of coffee made with beans of one variety planted in your backyard for centuries will be different from the coffee grown in other countries. This means that the beans were harvested, processed, and sourced from a single crop, variety, producer, or region in a certain country.

So, if you’ll consider picking beans from a preferred single-origin farm, then you’ll probably be getting a high-quality coffee having a unique flavor. Besides, beans from a single origin are best when consumed without milk. In terms of roast degree, preferably dark roast as long as it suits your taste.

On the other hand, when it comes to a blend, it is composed of several single origins to provide a great profile combination. Generally, blends usually have a heavier body and have been carefully selected to offer a more complex and balanced coffee flavor. Like for example, espresso or milk coffee.

So, wrapping it up. If you want to experience a classical bean’s original taste and composition, go for a single origin coffee. If you want your cup to highlight mouthfeel or body, then choose blend coffee. 

Altitude 

Aside from visual inspection and cupping, the aspect of coffee is often graded in altitude to where it is was grown. Therefore, see to it that the information includes elevation to help you find the kind of bean associated with high specialty coffee status. 

If the coffee indicates that it has grown at a high elevation, then it’s safe to say that the beans are high quality. Beans that are farmed at higher levels, such as Arabica produce a sweeter, more aromatic, and bright-fruity flavor that contributes to its superiority. 

On the other hand, if it implies that it has grown at a low altitude, then expect it to offer a strong and more acidic flavor. Lower altitudes sometimes affect the beans’ quality and development, resulting in a low-quality coffee.

Processing Method

It’s also important to know how the coffee beans were processed. In the world of specialty coffee, the processing methods have a huge impact on the flavor profile. Their finished products produce different qualities. In fact, starting from production, the processing is the first thing that influences the way your coffee taste before roasting and brewing takes place.

Among the different processing methods, honey processed beans are known to offer a sweet flavor. Washed coffee beans have fruity and delicate flavors, including strong aromas that contribute to its complexity. On the other hand, naturally (dry method) processed beans give a heavy body coffee, and offer a sweeter flavor than washed coffee.

So, having that said, identify the process at which your coffee beans are prepared. If you’re buying coffee from your local roaster, don’t hesitate to ask what processing method do beans went through. In that case, you’re not just choosing the right coffee that suits your preference but you’re also gaining knowledge and details about it.

Choose a Roast Degree that You Want

Focus how to choose the right coffee beans

The level to which the coffee beans are roasted is one of the most essential factors that regulate the taste of coffee in a cup. Therefore, choose a roast degree that offers a particular flavor that you like. 

But what do we mean by roast degree?

The roast degree refers to the types or levels to which the beans are roasted. You can see it in color preference in particular, from light – to brown- to medium – to medium-dark – to dark – to burn. 

For example, let’s say you’re going to buy coffee beans but you don’t know where to start. So, if you want a coffee that is more acidic and complex, then pick light roasted coffee beans. Light roasts are known to offer a slightly more acid concentration and complex flavor due to its early development. 

To help you decide on what you think is the right roast for you, I suggest that you identify and define first the key factors that differentiate light roast from medium to dark roast coffees. You can read my previous article Here.

When it comes to the roast profile, there’s a lot of things going on. Several factors contribute to the characteristics of a certain roast. If you want to pick the best coffee beans, you should describe what each roast degree has to offer when it comes to body, complexity, flavor, acidity, and so on.

Here’s a summary to make this choice as easy as possible.

  • Light Roast – Having a unique and complex coffee flavor.
  • Dark Roast – It provides a deep but rich flavor.
  • Medium Roast – Having a balanced flavor. 

Just keep in mind that there’s no wrong choice on a certain roast profile. It’s all down to your taste preference. Choose whatever you want as long as you’re happy. If you keep getting disappointed by the same type of roast, don’t be afraid to explore the others and change it up.

Furthermore, these are some essential things you need to consider:

  • Avoid Over-Roasted or Burnt Coffee Beans – If your coffee beans are over-roasted, having a very dark in color, the final cup may taste bitter or burnt. Over-roasted coffee is sometimes a result of beans’ imperfections; defective beans, damaged beans, broken beans, etc.
  • Avoid Damaged/Broken Beans – Speaking of broken beans, sometimes, some bags of coffee are mixed with damaged and perfectly fine coffee beans. It’s the result, maybe, of aggressive roasting or defective beans from production.
  • Choose a Bean that is Brown and Looks Dry to Touch – Even though you get what you want, I suggest you choose beans that are brown, especially if you’re not that conscious about roasts. It’s better if the beans are dry and shiny at the same time. Avoid the beans that are super dry as well as super oily.

Choose Freshly Roasted Beans as Possible

Indeed, a fresh cup of coffee would leave you wanting more another sip. And the freshness of the coffee beans is the key to obtain that. 

Check the roast date of the coffee beans to ensure their freshness. Not the expiration date as, of course, coffee beans can be stored as long as you want. But that doesn’t mean that coffee has an eternal shelf life.

It’s always best to consume them within two weeks or even early to get the most out of it – the aroma and natural taste. Else, there’s a chance that your coffee may taste bad as they begin to lose essential and aromatic flavor in just a matter of time. 

Here are simple ways of identifying and maintaining a fresh batch of coffee beans or then.

  • Look for Glossy Beans – The natural oils of coffee beans develop during the roasting process. These oils and compounds appear on the surface of the beans. So, if the beans are fully developed and thus creating a glossy appearance, you’re probably attaining fresh coffee. However, again, avoid beans that are super oily and very dark in color.
  • Check the Coffee Bag – Once the coffee beans have been roasted, you need to allow the gases (Carbon Dioxide) to escape. Don’t trap those gases inside the coffee bean forever. Take this as an example, let’s say you need to release the carbon dioxide as it’s being polluted. So, if you trap those gases inside the bag, the beans are already polluted before they reach your cup. Therefore, check the sealed bag if it features a valve. The valve allows the beans to continue releasing carbon dioxide outside (often called “degassing.”)
  • Buy a Small Batch of Roasted Beans – The aroma is sometimes the first thing you lose from the beans once subjected to roasting. Besides, you also lose freshness almost immediately due to the release of carbon dioxide after being roasted. Therefore, to at least maximize the bean’s efficiency and freshness, try to buy smaller batches of freshly roasted coffee more often – enough for one or two weeks. 
  • Store the Beans Properly to Keep them Fresh– Of course, your aim is to find the right coffee beans that suit your preference. But again, as mentioned, exposure to air is bad for your beans. The essential and aromatic flavor degrades in just a matter of time. Therefore, you need to properly store the coffee beans to keep them as fresh as possible. In the end, you can enjoy the best possible cup of coffee at home as the beans might stay good for about a month after roasting.

FAQs

Q1. Whole Bean or Ground Coffee?

The reason why most people prefer whole coffee beans over ground is because whole beans have the quality of retaining its flavor and freshness. Whole beans has a better shelf life, making even the last cup of coffee as fresh as possible.

Moreover, if you’re fun of brewing your coffee in different ways, like for example, pour over, French Press, AeroPress and so on, I suggest you pick whole bean coffee. Different brewing methods require different grind sizes to bring out the best flavor in your coffee. Be sure though that you have a coffee grinder at home (preferably “burr grinder”).

But if you aren’t fan of storing your beans, you don’t have a burr grinder, and if you only brew your coffee using French press method, it’s practical to just buy ground coffee. You may don’t need to buy whole coffee beans since you only just needed a single grind size in a single brewing process. Be sure also that you’re choosing a grind size recommended to your preferred method.

Q2. I Want my Coffee to have a Less Amount of Caffeine. What Beans Should I Choose?

As highlighted above, the amount of caffeine varies with different factors. It’s a combination of these:

The Bean Itself – Choose Arabica since the beans naturally contain less amount of caffeine than Robusta or any other types of coffee.

Roast Degree – They often say that the roast degree has nothing to do with the amount of caffeine in your cup. However, we may consider that the type of roast is another key factor that impacts our caffeine consumption in our daily brew.

Choose dark roasted coffee beans because they have slightly less caffeine content, whereas lightly roasted beans have more amount of it. The thing is the more the coffee beans are subjected to roasting, the more caffeine is also lost during the process.

I’ve written an article about How Much Caffeine is in a Cup of Coffee and I discussed the different factors that affect the coffee’s caffeine content. If you want to know more about it, you can read it HERE.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, we have different perspectives on how things work. The best or the right coffee beans can be measured in different ways and can be viewed based on our personal perceptions. 

With that being said, after knowing your preferred coffee bean, you should then explore each of their tastes. Sure, having that knowledge about the different types of coffee is already enough. But it’s much better to choose the type of bean that you know will satisfy your taste bud. 

Besides, the best coffee should be judged by the sensation of your taste rather than by the testimonies of others. Don’t buy that bean because I said so, rather purchase it because you researched, experienced, and loved it.

For those getting started, it’s normal that you can’t easily choose the right coffee beans that suit your taste preference. As I have mentioned, you need to go through some trials and errors. Because the best way to find what you want is to drink more coffee. That’s it, as simple as that!

Like this Article? You Might Want to Read: What is Specialty Coffee (A Definitive Guide)