Choosing the best type of coffee beans is a matter of personal preference, but there are certain factors to consider:
Firstly, consider the type of coffee plant. Most specialty coffee today is Arabica, which offers a wide range of flavor notes and is considered superior. Arabica beans are commonly found in independent coffee roasters, whether in blends or as single origins. Robusta coffee, on the other hand, tends to be more bitter and is often used in commercial-grade coffee to add body and depth.
The roast profile also plays a significant role in the coffee’s taste. Dark roasted coffee generally has chocolatey and rich notes, medium roast can offer sweetness or fruitiness, while light roast tends to be more floral or acidic.
Your preferred coffee preparation method also influences the choice of beans. For espresso-based milk drinks like lattes or cappuccinos, a full-bodied coffee blend is recommended. Single origin coffees from Colombia, Brazil, or Sumatra with rich chocolatey notes can also work well for espresso. For black coffee, African coffees may offer delicate floral or citrus flavors, while naturally or honey processed coffees from Central America can provide fruitier flavors.
However, these guidelines can be flexible, as personal taste preferences may vary. It’s important to consider the roast profile, origin, and processing method of the coffee to make an educated guess on the flavor profile.
Regarding coffee processing methods, the majority of specialty coffee is washed. This involves depulping the coffee cherry and washing off the mucilage before drying the beans. Another common method is the natural process, where the coffee is dried with the cherry attached. Other methods, such as honey or semi-washed, also exist.
Coffee is grown in various regions around the world, with Brazil being the largest exporter, providing a quarter of the global supply. South American coffee is known for its high quality and rich flavors. Vietnam is the second-largest exporter but is mainly associated with Robusta used in commodity coffee. Africa, the birthplace of coffee, offers some of the best specialty coffee, with Ethiopia and Kenya being notable players known for delicate floral and citrus notes. Central American coffee from various origins is also highly regarded for its exceptional quality.
Ultimately, exploring different roasts, origins, and processing methods will allow you to discover your preferred coffee flavors and find the perfect cup for your taste preferences.