Craft Coffee 101 - The Introduction
by Collin Lee
Mmm...is there anything that beats the aroma and taste of fresh coffee in the morning?
Though the origins of coffee are unclear, what is clear is that millions of people the world over have been enjoying this stimulating drink. If you have somehow managed to avoid trying coffee, or have always stuck to the pre-ground supermarket version, now is the time to find out what you’ve been missing out on.
Of course, not all coffee is created the same. So let’s take a quick crash course on some basic terms to watch out for when choosing your coffee and what they mean.
Single Origin Coffee vs Blends
As the name suggests, single-origin coffees come from the same place. The flavor profile tends to be unique, even between batches. It also tends to be available seasonally when the coffee is ready for harvesting in the chosen region. For a unique coffee-drinking experience, go for the single origin.
A blend offers a more balanced approach, giving you a more consistent taste that you can enjoy all year.
Whole Bean or Pre-Ground?
Coffee beans go through quite a process to become ready for brewing. However, it is at the final stage, grounding up the coffee beans, that the lack of freshness is easier to perceive.
In other words, grinding your properly stored coffee beans immediately before drinking them is the best way to get a rich, full-flavored, deliciously fresh cup of coffee. Pre-ground beans, while still good, will have begun to lose that little extra delight that is fresh coffee.
Coffees From Around the World
There are a number of factors affecting the taste of a particular coffee bean. These include:
- The acidity of the soil
- The climate where the beans were grown
- The altitude of the plant
- How the beans were washed
This is why single-source coffees have such a distinctive flavor profile. A true coffee connoisseur can refine their taste enough to tell you where the coffee beans were grown just from tasting a cup of coffee.
Let’s look at a few key differences.
As a giant country in South America, Brazil is a huge producer of coffee and the US gets about 25% of its beans from Brazil. Because the country is so large there isn’t one distinctive Brazilian coffee taste. Plus, Brazilian coffee is primarily processed in three different ways (dry, wet, and semi-washed) — which also affects the taste.
For this reason, some Brazilian coffees have a nutty, rich taste, which makes them popular for espresso blends. Others have distinct chocolate and spice flavors that linger deliciously on the tongue.
If your South American coffee doesn’t come from Brazil, it probably comes from Columbia as this country is one of world’s top three producers.
Columbian coffee makers tend to stick with wet processing (washing the outer layers off before drying) and the flavors are a bit sweeter and less acidic. You may notice hints of chocolate, caramel, and nutty flavors in these delicious cups.
Kenyan coffee makers also tend to use the wet method. Most of Kenya’s coffee is grown in the sun and just the right amount of rainfall creates a not-too-acidic coffee with full body and an intense flavor.
Kenyan coffee beans produce a rich cup of coffee and may have a hint of florals or fruity flavors.
Benefits of Small-Batch Roasting
Small-batch roasting gives the coffee maker greater control over how the beans turn out. With plenty of space in the roaster, it’s easier to keep the beans moving and produce a more consistent roast. Plus, the maker has more control over the humidity, temperature, and other factors that affect the way the beans taste after being roasted.
Another big benefit is the freshness. Roasting the beans in large batches means that whoever buys the last bit is getting beans that were roasted a few days ago. While grinding your own beans gives you a remarkably fresh cup of coffee, using freshly roasted beans will give you the best, freshest, most delightful cup of coffee.
Get Your Beans Today
Thirsty yet? Thrive Coffee is a nonprofit craft coffee roaster our of Richmond, Virginia. We encourage you to check out our selection of craft coffee!
There’s nothing quite like the rich aroma and delightful taste of a supremely fresh cup of coffee. Ready to continue developing your coffee taste? Get a fresh batch of beans today to get started!