Over the years I have heard many people who state that they wouldn’t spend much on coffee because “it’s just coffee”. I feel bad for those people because that means they have never had small batch fresh roasted coffee…they are going through life opening up that “fancy” coffee that they can get from the grocer. There’s no difference, right? Yes, there is! There is a huge difference. Why are there different cuts of meat at the grocer? Because some are just better than others.
Most of what you can buy in the grocer is Robusta bean coffee. Robusta beans will grow pretty much ANYWHERE so they are grown, harvested, and processed in far greater volume and for far cheaper than Arabica beans. To put it in perspective, green Robusta beans cost about ½ as much as Arabica beans. It produces a coffee with more of a bitter and “burnt” taste. This is due to the caffeine levels being higher (almost double) in the Robusta bean. Caffeine has a very bitter taste. Arabica beans carry far higher levels of lipids and sugars, which produces a pleasant flavor. Arabica is what you want if you want the flavorful and bold essence of coffee.
Our coffees come from only the finest high-grown, specialty-grade Arabica beans from growers who take pride in the quality of their coffee. These are the highest quality green beans available, vastly superior to the standard quality beans found in most commercial coffees. Our coffees are roasted frequently in small batches (our roasting units are nowhere near the size you will find in companies who are producing on a commercial level). The freshness of the roast is critical, and coffee is at its peak flavor 2 to 14 days after roasting. Unless something crazy happens, or it’s a day that we are closed, your order leaves our facility within two days of your order so that it is in your hands quickly. This is something that cannot be replicated in a grocery store. By the nature of their supply-and-demand model, they must produce massive amounts of coffee and ship it so you can have it whenever you want it. So the grocery store may have coffee that is cheaper than ours, but the quality is not even close. Buying from a small roast-to-order company lets you enjoy one of the finer things in life at an affordable cost.
So you’re convinced and all set to buy some roast-to-order, small-batch, Arabica beans…now you are living! I recommend that you go out and purchase a coffee bean grinder from your favorite store. There are many grinders out there and some are very expensive, but the one I use at home cost me a whole $21 at a major local retailer and works great! Armed with a grinder, you now take one more step towards the pinnacle of fresh coffee.
Here are some tips to carry you from opening your coffee delivery to coffee bliss:
- Grinding just before brewing. We grind only enough coffee for each brew. Once ground, coffee stales quickly because more surface area is exposed to oxygen, the main enemy of freshness. So avoid grinding beans ahead of time. This is another reason we recommend getting a grinder and ordering your coffee whole bean.
- Use good water. Brewed coffee is mostly water, so you want to make sure it tastes good. A good filtration system is recommended for most municipal water supplies. Or use good bottled water. Distilled water is not recommended as it has no flavor at all. We have a filter pitcher to filter our water at home and it works great.
- Sufficient grounds. We use more grounds in each brew because the result is a richer flavor, not stronger. Bitterness is actually caused by overextraction–too much water in relation to grounds. It is always better to use too much coffee than not enough. At home with a drip brewer, try one-half an ounce (two tablespoons) of coffee per eight-ounce cup, then adjust to taste.
- Brewing. Brew with water heated to between 195 and 205F. If you use a drip brewer, that should be the normal brew range built in, but if you are using pour-over, French Press, or other manual methods, the temperature is important. I’d recommend an electronic water kettle so you can set the temperature.
- Airtight storage. The main enemy of freshness is oxygen, so keep your beans in an airtight container, in a cool, dark, moisture-free place…but not a refrigerator or freezer.
NOTE: Caffeine. Caffeine is water soluble, so brewing methods that keep the grounds and the water in contact longer will have more caffeine. The least caffeine is in espresso, where the water is pushed through in 30 seconds or less. Counterintuitive, but true. The most caffeine is in cold-brew coffee that is steeped for up to 24 hours. For the more common brewing methods, the full immersion methods like French press or Clever will have more caffeine than drip because of the longer contact times. Also, darker roasts have a little less caffeine than lighter roasts because the roasting process cooks out the caffeine over a longer period of time.