Trying to figure out which discount gourmet coffee to buy? Once you understand the descriptors of the beans and the manner in which it is roasted, you may have more confidence in finding the coffee that suits your preferences.
The names of the beans normally do not refer to the kind of coffee plant they come from; instead, the name can refer to any of the following.
Quite simply, a name may designate where the bean was grown (Ethiopia, Colombia, Kenya, Yemen). Sometimes the name of the plantation is included in the coffee’s name as well. Coffees can be designated as “single-origin” coffees that is, originating from one country only or “blends,” a combination of beans from a variety of geographical areas. Generally, blended coffees produce more complex brews than single-origin coffees.
Once at their destination, the green coffee beans are roasted (that is, heated in a large roasting drum to develop a desired flavor and color). The longer the coffee beans roast, the darker their color and the stronger their flavor, so if you know how strong you like your coffee, you will be better prepared to select the appropriate roasting style.
Often, coffee roasters will put their own mark on a batch of beans, blending and roasting the beans according to the roaster’s preferences. Often, names such as “House Blend” will tell you little; but the names sometimes give clues as to how the coffee roaster envisioned the coffee to be enjoyed, such as “Eye-Opener Roast” or “Dessert Blend.
Styles of Coffee Roasts
- French and Italian roasts:
Dark, heavy-roasted coffee beans that are almost black in color and produce a strongly flavored coffee.
- American roast:
A medium-roasted coffee, which produces a coffee that’s neither characteristically light nor heavy.
- European roast:
Two-thirds heavy-roasted coffee beans combined with one-third medium-roasted beans.
- Viennese roast:
One-third heavy-roasted coffee beans combined with two-thirds medium-roasted beans
To further clarify the coffee roasts;
- Light roasts have several names that they are known by, depending upon the location that you purchase them. When you look at these coffee beans they will appear the color of milk chocolate. Contrary to popular belief,, the light roast coffes actually contain more caffeine than dark roasted coffee – as much as 10% more, in fact! Generally, origin coffees are roasted to a light degree to bring out the best qualities of the coffee.
- Medium roasts are familiar to you as a City Roast or Breakfast Roast or American Roast. These beans have a dark brown color and may display some oily spots of the coffee’s natural oils coming to the surface. Medium roasts are less acidic while more spicey and nutty undertones become apparent.
- Dark roasts are described as European, French, Italian, Espresso, Full City or Viennese. These descriptors are not of the origin of the coffees, but the degree of the roasting of the coffee beans. This coffee bean will be almost black in color and be shiney from the oils of the beans. The individual characteristics may be very discrete when roasted to this level. This coffee will have a deep flavor reminiscent of an earthy, smokey flavor. This roast has a bittersweet wash to it.
Choosing the Right Coffee Bean:
With the basics of coffee now in your repertoir, you still have some research to do in order to decide which coffee best suits your taste.
Because coffees grown in the same parts of the world can have similar characteristics, knowing your coffee’s origins can help you decide if it will be one you like. Coffees from Africa are often imbued with the aromas and flavors of berries, citrus fruits, cocoa and spices, while coffees from Latin America are known for their lighter body and cleaner flavors. Coffee beans from Southeast Asia are often full-bodied and smooth.
When selecting a coffee, think about whether you like bright, citrus notes or nutty, caramel flavors or even the earthy, smokey flavor in your cup. Once you’ve got this overall picture of origins and roasting styles in your mind, honing your personal likes and dislikes involves the enjoyable task of trying a little of this and a little of that when you have a chance.
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