True coffee lovers know the best way to buy coffee is to get it directly from the roaster. Green beans, those that are not yet roasted, can hold their flavor for years if stored correctly, but once the roasting process is completed, the peak of freshness begins to wane quickly. By buying beans directly from the people who handle the roasting process or at least the next step in the chain, coffee connoisseurs can ensure the best quality and even save a little bit of the fun in grinding for themselves.
Coffee itself only comes from two main beans – the robusta and the arabica. The arabica is considered the most flavorful of the two and is used by most major coffee makers the world over. In fact, this bean accounts for some 70 percent of the world’s production of coffee. The key in getting different flavors often lies within the skill of the person handling the roasting process. The same batch of beans, for example, can be roasted in a number of different ways to produce coffee that’s very different in taste.
When a different end result is desired for flavor reasons, the roaster will ensure the beans stay in a special, commercialized roaster for the set amount of time. Expert roasters know exactly what to do and how long to “cook” beans to ensure the end result is masterful. Roasting can produce several different types of brews. They include:
* Light or American roast. When a less full bodied flavor is desired, the beans are kept in the roaster for the least amount of time. This produces beans that are ideal for American coffee. Tasty, yet not strong or “thick,” these beans are used throughout America for typical coffee shop, home and diner brews.
* European roast. Beans for typical French coffees, for example, stay in slightly longer than American brews. They produce a “darker” and often more flavorful cup of coffee.
* Dark brews. These are rich, bold and thick. This variety requires a longer cooking time to bring out more of the beans’ natural oils and sugars. The color comes from the beans’ sugars caramelizing.
* Espresso blends. These beans are cooked to the burn point and actually begin to smoke. The darkest of the darks, beans cooked this long are meant for use in rich, espresso drinks.
Other flavors, of course, may be obtained by adding them in after the roasting process. Designer coffees come with a whole grocery list of flavors that range from hazelnut and chocolate and mint to orange and beyond.
No matter the kind of coffee desired, it’s likely it can be found online. If purchased directly from a roaster or from a company that ensures freshness, online purchases can net much better coffee than typical grocery stores. Look for beans that are promised to be delivered within short time of roasting and plan on grinding yourself for the freshest of flavors. Grind only what’s needed one pot at a time for best flavors.